Slip, Trip, and Fall Prevention

Tokio Marine America’s mission as a Good Company is to provide Anshin (safety, security, and peace of mind) to our clients and the public during challenging times.

Slip, trip, and fall (STF) accidents cause thousands of serious injuries every year. Some result in permanent disability or death. According to the National Safety Council, 27.5% of all reported work-related injuries are from slips, trips, and falls, including 25,000 deaths annually, making this the second leading cause of work-related injuries in the United States.

Slip, trip, and fall accidents are a concern for both employee safety as well as commercial general liability.

A study of all Tokio Marine America workers’ compensation claims in the three-year period from 2018 through 2020 found that when compared to all reported accidents, slip, trip, and fall accidents accounted for 16% of the total accident frequency and 20% of the total accident severity. Next to strain and sprain accidents, this is the second most prevalent and costly accident cause for Tokio Marine America. The information provided below will help explain what causes a slip, trip, or fall to prevent these incidents from occurring.

Slips, trips, and falls can happen anywhere: in the workplace, at home, and in many other settings. They can occur at the entry of a building, in café and kitchen areas, in cold rooms and clean rooms, on manufacturing floors and loading docks, and even outside the building.

More serious slips, trips, and falls may result in:

  • Sprains or strains
  • Broken bones from forceful impact or when trying to break the fall
  • Back injuries due to the sudden and forceful impact during a fall
  • Cuts, abrasions, bruises, etc. when falling on or against hard and rough surfaces
  • Burns if it occurs near hot surfaces or if the person is handling hot fluids
  • And death due to falls from elevated surfaces.

Causes of Slip, Trips, and Falls

Various factors contribute to the risk of slips and trips. Slips usually occur when there is a loss of grip between the shoe and the floor, most commonly caused by a contaminant or debris. Trips occur when a person’s foot hits a low obstacle in the person’s path, causing a loss of balance. Often, the obstacle is not easily visible or noticed. It is usually a combination of factors that create the risk of a slip or trip.

Floor contaminants

Anything that ends up on a floor can be considered a contaminant. Contaminants can be wet such as water, oil, or grease, or dry such as dust, metal shavings, plastic bags, and pellets. Preventing contaminants from accumulating on the floor is one of the best things you can do to prevent slips.

Floor surfaces

Floor surfaces require sufficient grip to prevent slipping, especially where surfaces are not level or can become contaminated with wet or dry substances. The greater the thickness or viscosity of the contaminants, the greater the slip resistance of the flooring should be to protect against slips and falls.

Cleaning affects every workplace and everyone in the workplace. Besides regular cleaning programs, everyone has a role keeping the work area clear and taking responsibility for their own spills. Floors need to be cleaned properly to ensure:

  • Good inspection, maintenance, and housekeeping practices
  • Accumulations of contaminants are prevented
  • Accumulations of contaminants are immediately and effectively removed should they occur
  • Floors maintain slip resistant properties (non-slip flooring and cleaning agents)

Obstacles and other trip hazards

Trips most often occur because of uneven flooring or cluttered walkways with low obstacles that are not easily visible or noticed. Common examples of low obstacles are uneven floor edges, such as raised or depressed edges, grates, and covers. Other trip hazard examples are floor cracks and holes, loose and curled up mats, cables and wires, and changes in floor surface levels. Trips can be prevented by:

  • Good inspection, maintenance, and housekeeping practices
  • Ensuring the floor surface is in good order such as being free from holes, uneven surfaces, and curled up floor coverings or floor mat edges
  • Avoiding any changes in floor surface level, or if this is not possible, highlighting these changes
  • Providing adequate storage facilities

Environment, including lighting

Wet and icy conditions can be a factor causing slip and falls. Extreme cold and heat can be distracting and impact a person noticing slip, trip, and fall hazards. Other distractions such as unfamiliar or unexpected loud noises, interruptions by co-workers, or employee horseplay can lead to a person to not noticing a slip, trip, and fall hazard in their path. Poor lighting can hinder a person’s ability to see hazards.

Where wet and icy environments can be anticipated, make sure floor surfaces are made of slip resistant materials, the floor surface is dried when possible, and ice accumulation is removed, salted, or sanded for traction.

Adequate light levels without glare or shadowing should be used to highlight potential slip or trip hazards. Other distractions, like those mentioned, should be minimized as much as possible.

People and activity

Work activities, the way the work is organized, and attitudes toward safety can affect the worker’s ability to see or think about where they are going. For example, people hurrying, carrying large objects, pushing high trolleys, or talking on a mobile phone could contribute to a slip or trip. Workers need to be able to maintain their balance when performing tasks and be able to recover if they slip or trip.

For example, when handling loads, workers should have full view of where they need to travel and should also have a free hand to hold onto a rail when walking down steps.

Consideration should be given to:

  • Individuals’ physical attributes such as vision, balance, and agility
  • The work being carried out and how it is organized
  • Who will be walking through the area, including the public

Footwear

Footwear plays an important role in reducing the risk of slips, trips, and falls. Footwear should be:

  • Suitable for the type of work and work environment
  • Comfortable with an adequate non-slip sole and appropriate tread pattern
  • Checked regularly to ensure treads are not worn away or clogged with contaminants

HOW TO MANAGE SLIPS, TRIPS & FALLS

The simplest way of preventing slip, trip, and fall injuries in your workplace is to develop a risk management plan that identifies, assesses, controls, and monitors safety hazards and risks. The following information will help you develop a risk management plan and record your assessments.

Identify hazards

Identifying hazards is the first step to determine exactly where slips, trips, and falls can or have occurred in your workplace. You can find out this information by talking to workers and supervisors, inspecting the premises, and reviewing records such as incident and injury reports as well as workers’ compensation claims.

Another useful method is to sketch a layout of the work area and mark on it where slip and trip incidents or hazards have been reported.

Assess the risk

The next step is to assess the slip or trip risks. Usually a combination of factors create the risk. As part of your assessment you should also consider:

  • How many people are exposed
  • The consequences of the slip or trip – a slip or trip with or without a fall can be more serious if it occurs near hot, sharp, or moving objects, or at a height, such as near stairs
  • How often the situation occurs

Fix the problem

Look at the assessed risks and decide what needs to be done to eliminate or reduce the risks and how quickly these measures need to be implemented. Below are six types of control strategies to eliminate or reduce the risks and they are listed below in order of their effectiveness.

REDUCE YOUR RISK

Look at all the options available to you and select controls that will best reduce the risks. Often, a range of controls may be needed. If possible, test the preferred control options before putting them into practice permanently. Develop work procedures to formalize the controls, communicate the reason for the change with workers, and provide all staff with training and supervision.

  1. Monitor and review controls

    It is important to check whether the controls in place are effective, being used correctly, and have not introduced new hazards or risks. This can be done by talking with your workers, observing work activities, undertaking walk-through surveys, and reviewing incident and hazard reports. Other issues that you need to address in your risk management plan include design, maintenance, consultation, training, and record keeping.

  2. Design

    Prevention of slips, trips, and falls starts with good design of the workplace. When fitting out new premises/extensions or refurbishing the workplace, incorporate features to prevent slips and trips. When commissioning or purchasing new equipment, in addition to ensuring that it is safe, ensure it provides adequate containment of any possible by-product such as off-cuts, grease, and dust.

  3. Maintenance

    This is fundamental to ensure that control measures remain effective. For slips and trips prevention:

    • Maintain the condition of floor and ground surfaces, stairs, and ramps
    • Maintain machinery to prevent leaks
    • Ensure there is adequate lighting
    • Ensure workers wear suitable footwear to provide adequate grip
  4. Consultation

    Before making changes to facilities and processes or purchasing equipment, talk to workers in the work area about the changes.

  5. Training

    All staff should have a good understanding of slip, trip, and fall hazards and what they can do to prevent them. For example, train staff in the risks and control strategies that have been implemented, including relevant procedures for cleaning and hazard reporting.

  6. Record keeping

    Document all areas inspected and corrective actions taken using a self-inspection checklist form for slips, trips, and falls.

    As part of Tokio Marine America's commitment to providing high quality loss control services to our policyholders, we offer web-based resources that can assist you in Slip, Trip, and Fall Prevention training.

Tokio Marine America customers can contact their loss control representative or email TMALossControl@tmamerica.com for more information. Please visit our loss control page for more information regarding our services.

Additional Information

7 Secrets to Protecting Your Business

Sample TMA Self-Inspection Checklist

Slip, Trip and Fall Prevention

ASSP Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls

EHS Today Tips to Prevent Workplace Slips, Trips and Falls


About Author

Gerry Sammarco, CSP
Manager, Web Based Client Solutions, Loss Control Department at Tokio Marine America
Gerry is the Manager of Web Based Client Solutions but also a Senior Lead Consultant with our Casualty Loss Control Group. His focus is in general safety and casualty related loss control. He has 34 years of experience in the insurance industry and has been with Tokio Marine America for 26 years. Gerry is a member of the American Society of Safety Professionals.

About Tokio Marine America

Our Loss Control Department’s mission is to assist our policyholders in their efforts to maintain a safe and healthy workplace, and to deliver cost sensitive solutions in an effort to maintain profitability.

With over a 100-year history in the U.S., Tokio Marine America (TMA) offers tailored products to a diverse range of customers – from small to large-sized global businesses seeking traditional multi-line coverage, to larger private and public companies requiring full risk management solutions. Our commitment to providing the highest level of service is paramount. More than 93% of our customers recommend TMA based on our superior claims service. TMA is one of only three insurers with an A++ (Superior) XV rating from A.M. Best. With a solid foundation of financial stability, our strength lies in understanding your business and working in partnership to exceed your expectations.

By offering fully integrated solutions to meet our customer’s needs, we endeavor to deliver ANSHIN – safety, security and peace of mind to all our customers.

Tokio Marine America (TMA) is the marketing name for Tokio Marine America Insurance Company (TMAIC).