3D Illustration of a man tripping while carrying boxes

In January 2017, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued updated safety standards to help prevent dozens of fatalities and more than 5,000 injuries that result from slip-and-fall accidents annually, according to an article on the Newsday website.

Even though the standards are nearly a year old, some firms haven’t taken action yet.

“Employers are now just starting to get up to speed on this,” according to Jennifer Stroschein, workplace safety editor at Neenah, Wisconsin-based J.J. Keller & Associates Inc., which provides safety and compliance consulting services.

As of May, half of the firm’s clients weren’t completely comfortable with the details and implications of the rules, and another 15 percent were completely unaware there were new rules, Stroschein said in the article.

The January 2017 rules make the “general industry” fall-protection standards — those that apply to most businesses, from manufacturing to retail to offices — more aligned with the construction industry fall-protection standards.

As part of the updated guidelines, employers must conduct a hazard assessment for falls and determine whether personal equipment would abate that hazard.

By May 17, they should have trained employees who use certain fall-protection systems and equipment.

According to an article on Cleanlink website, slips, trips and falls in the workplace are very costly in terms of monetary impact, reduced worker productivity, lower morale, worker injuries and even deaths.

These statistics shine a spotlight on to how such accidents impact both business owners and employees:

• Falls accounted for 5 percent of the job-related fatalities for women, compared to 11 percent for men, according to the BLS.

• Injuries from falls account for over 8 million hospital emergency room visits, representing the leading cause of visits (21.3 percent). Slips and falls account for over 1 million visits, or 12 percent of all falls, according to the National Floor Safety Institute (NSFI).

• Floors and flooring materials contribute directly to more than 2 million fall injuries each year, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

A recent study on floor safety suggests that many businesses' fall prevention programs may overlook the effects of flooring selection and maintenance.

The study was produced by CNA, a provider of insurance and risk management services. It found that floors in 50 percent of the surveyed sites failed to produce a dynamic coefficient of friction (DCOF) level above the minimum threshold of 0.42 (American National Standards Institute).

The Jan. 2017 OSHA rules list 15 areas that require fall protection, including unprotected sides and edges. Employers can use that as a checklist when inspecting their workplace, the Newsday article said.

The OSHA updates allow flexibility as to the types of fall protection employers may use, taking into account “technology advances in modern fall-protection systems.

Read the full Newsday article here.