The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the Bureau of Labor Statistics research in 2014 tabulates 261,930 slip and fall accidents yearly with 798 incidents resulting in death. According to the CDC, many of those deaths were experienced by workers in the construction industry, with many of the non-fatal accidents occurring in the healthcare, janitorial and transportation worksites. Although OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) regulations and suggested policies are designed to lower the number of accidents, dangerous practices continue to plague many workplaces. Organizations can benefit from new technologies and safer standards and practices to prevent those costly occurrences, which add up to $70 billion in costs annually according to the CDC.
Technology to Prevent Workers from Dangerous Falls
Just as technology has transformed the way many workers complete their duties, technology can also be helpful in preventing dangerous falls in the workplace. One such type of technology, ArgosRisk, tracks statistics on job sites, including critical incidents. The software compares those incidents with regulations and practices supplied by OSHA and other governmental agencies. When a risk or poor practice is detected and logged, the software supplies suggestions in order to mitigate risk and make the workplace safer for everyone.
Another technology, the NIOSH Ladder Safety App, available for both Apple and Android phones, focuses on individuals who regularly utilize step and extension ladders as a part of their everyday work. The app can analyze how ladders are used and suggest the right angle at which the ladder should be placed in order to prevent accidental injuries. In addition, it supplies information on proper safety practices. Overall, the goal of the app is to drastically reduce the number of slip and fall accidents, particularly those that result in the death of the employee.
Other corporations use drones and/or cameras in potentially dangerous work areas to monitor outcomes and ensure employees are utilizing safe practices while conforming to regulations. When incidents are spotted by these drones or cameras, companies have the opportunity to emphasize the importance of following safety standards and mitigating the inherent risk of slip and fall occurrences. Employee practices are reviewed in real time, allowing for strategic responses to deploy and prevent falls and other injuries.
Safety Signs in the Workplace
Workers are often bombarded with a litany of signs governing everything from safe practices to warnings about the potential of accidents and injuries. Unfortunately, many workplaces post so many signs that workers become blind to reading them. A best practice companies can follow is to not only post just the signs necessary by regulations and policies but also to provide training and educational opportunities to the workers who much employ those practices. Continued emphasis can be placed on the workers most impacted by safety violations to foster safe outcomes.
Utilizing Proper Equipment on the Jobsite
Businesses must ensure that their employees are equipped with the best possible equipment, including ladders and scaffolding, to prevent accidents and injuries. OSHA regulations require fall protection practices to be followed in equipment that places workers between four and eight feet above the floor, depending on the industry. Although those heights may not seem very high, a fall from them could result in serious injuries or even death. Some of the OSHA requirements include utilizing guard rails on platforms and scaffolding, as well as toe boards, safety netting and even safety harnesses for particular high ladders and scaffolding. Ladders and scaffolding must also be inspected on a regular basis to find and correct any defects in the equipment.
Mitigating Injuries with the Removal of Potential Safety Issues
In addition to falls from ladders and scaffolding that have not been appropriately set up or that have become defected due to age or overuse, workplaces also have a duty to provide employees with uncluttered working conditions. Those workers utilize many different pieces of equipment during the course of their daily work. That makes it imperative for companies to foster a safety culture within their workplace. Companies must also train employees as to best practices including removing any clutter that could cause workers to trip, including cords, equipment, and construction debris. Additionally, it falls to companies to ensure their workers’ safety in areas that are wet or slippery through signs and mitigation plans to eliminate falls in those areas.
Employers can fulfill their responsibility to ensure employee safety by engaging in a workplace safety audit. These audits, which should be completed by workers most familiar with worksite tools and practices, should include a look at the standards and practices already in place. Then, sites, tools and equipment should be studied carefully with information gathered to track deficiencies and possible unsafe work zones, as well as past accidents and their causes. From that safety audit, companies and identify areas in need of attention as well as develop training programs for workers.
With that training, employees are empowered to monitor for safety breaches during the course of their normal workday and to either employ solutions taught during training or report the problem spots so that they can be quickly addressed to prevent slip, trip and fall injuries. Additional best practices may be gleaned from the Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety and Health (ELCOSH). This repository contains up-to-date guidance on monitoring and ensuring safe practices within the construction industry. The information provided by ELCOSH can also transfer to other injuries with inherent unsafe conditions.
Upholding Safe Practice is Everyone’s Job
With so many occurrences of accidents and death in the workplace due to slip and fall industries, ensuring safe practices must become a job embraced by every employee. Through training, technology, and apps, the number of accidents can be reduced, leaving behind a worksite that employees feel safe working within. Adopting safety as a core pillar in workplace culture, employers can uphold their duty to provide an accident and injury free work environment to every employee.