Hazard Identification And Assessment
I mentioned including a JHA in role procedures to ensure that your team is aware of their surroundings and their responsibilities to each other in maintaining a safe working environment. You see, it isn’t just the managers and owners responsible for safety – we are all responsible. Let’s discuss the four significant concepts behind identifying and assessing hazards in our work environments.
Every shift should begin with a thorough workplace inspection to ensure a safe work environment. In dangerous environments like construction sites, if multiple shifts occur, it’s best to have a hand-off session where members of the departing shift can share safety concerns and information with the incoming shift.
Suppose your organization works more with field crews and teams traveling from site to site. In that case, I recommend using a site inspection checklist to ensure team members follow the proper procedure in identifying potential safety issues. After all, proper identification is the only way to appropriate mitigation.
Hazard Assessment Tools
My favorite hazard assessment tool, hands down, is the 1st Reporting app. Okay, I’m a little biased, but seriously, using technology to effectively and efficiently report incidents like slips and falls is the way of the future. If someone came to you with a quill, bottle of ink, and parchment, would you accept that as a means of writing information?
No, you would not. You’d likely laugh. Well, that’s what your competition does when using tools like 1st Reporting, and you’re still using clipboards and paper.
Identifying High-Risk Areas
It stands to reason that if dangerous equipment or conditions are a normal part of operations in one area of a property or facility, you will identify that area accordingly. For example, a sawmill would identify areas where large machinery moves lumber or where industrial-sized saws fashion the raw wood into usable lumber. I would expect in this scenario to see appropriate signage and perhaps even lanes designated for pedestrians to avoid incidents.
A walk-through of your facility and a floor inspection will help you identify critical areas of concern. Oh, and in case you need it, we have a template for the assessment.
Reporting And Documentation
Continuing from standardized templates, documentation is critical in the preventive and mitigative processes. Hazard identification is crucial to determining the best action to prevent slips, trips, and falls. So, as we used a sawmill as a previous example, we might assume that the mill identified vital areas where slips, trips, and falls were potentially more severe due to the nature of moving equipment or other such things.
The point here is that there are two aspects to stopping incidents before they start. One aspect is the identification phase. The identification phase requires documenting and reporting the hazards you’ve identified. The next step is to prevent incidents from the information gathered during identification.
Prevention And Control Measures
We must prevent and control incidents and hazards in several ways before they become a problem that injures a person or worse. There are three key concepts to control measures you can institute at your place of business, engineering controls, administrative controls, and inclusion of appropriate personal protective equipment.
When considering engineering controls, consider the things you can physically do to control a threat. For example, an exterior elevated walkway would require appropriate guarding and railings. In this case, adding a handrail or guardrail is an engineering control to prevent falling. Let’s talk about ways we can control hazards, slips, and falls with engineering controls.
Proper Flooring And Traction
It all starts with the floor. You wouldn’t put an office in an ice rink (on the ice), so why would you put anything slippery in place? The concept here is that if a specific walking area is slippery, adding traction strips or other such things is an engineering control to prevent slipping.
Lighting plays a big role, believe it or not. Suppose workers can’t see an elevation change, or they can’t see in a dimly lit stairwell. In that case, the chances of them having a slip, trip, or fall incident increase exponentially. Therefore, adequate lighting is an engineering control measure to prevent slips and trips in poorly lit areas.
Handrails And Guardrails
I already mentioned handrails and guardrails, but just to ensure I’ve driven the point home here, let’s consider a stairwell. Stairs require handrails, and every commercial building with stairs likely has handrails already. These are the quintessential engineering control to avoid slips and falls. Give the people something to hold onto, which could save their lives.
Stair And Ladder Design
Since we are on the topic of stairs, let’s consider stair and ladder design. Sure, in a standard building, there’s little room to maneuver designs around. Still, it would be best to consider the design and use in industrial or construction sites where temporary ladders might become a reality.
Ladder and walkway construction and design come into play in many manufacturing facilities where new and even custom catwalks and other structures become necessary to navigate and service large pieces of fixed equipment.
Administrative controls differ from engineering controls in that they deal more directly with procedures and management concepts than with direct machine guarding or other such physical means that engineering controls utilize.
Housekeeping And Maintenance
Housekeeping policies and maintenance procedures must err on caution and have robust strategies for mitigating slip and fall hazards. Whether salting a freezing walkway or cleaning up an oil spill, housekeeping, and maintenance teams are crucial in slip, trip, and fall mitigation and prevention.
Signage And Warnings
As we just mentioned, housekeeping, let’s take that a step further to address signage and warnings. Take the scenario of housekeeping mopping up a spill. In most workplaces, you would see the proper process:
- Quickly deploy wet floor signs to surround the spill area.
- Utilize spill control equipment appropriate to the type of spill and clean up the area.
- Maintain the wet floor signs until the floor is dry and safe again.
It might seem foolish, but you would be surprised how many companies get this simple process wrong.
Further to a situational need for signage, as we discussed noting areas of greater danger and concern, we must ensure that each entry point to hazardous areas is properly signed. If a known slip-and-fall hazard exists, handrails and signage are the least you can do to prevent an incident.
Training And Awareness
Training team members is probably the most essential thing you can do to prevent incidents. When people are aware of dangers, they tend to do a better job of avoiding them. Similarly, when team members know what to do in case of emergencies, then they tend to handle those situations better than others who don’t know what to do or how to act.
Work Procedures And Policies
I’ve talked a lot in this guide about policy and procedures and for good reason. Implementing strict safety protocols, training team members on hazard identification and avoidance, and creating policies to mitigate risk are essential to a successful operation. However, you must still provide the right equipment to help promote safety and avoid injuries. That leads us right to the topic of PPE.
Personal protective equipment (PPE)
There will be times when you just can’t remove a risk. You can try everything you can, but sometimes there’s no winning. When risks of slip and fall incidents are unavoidable, the next thing after training your team to manage the situation is to equip them with appropriate personal protective equipment (or ensure they know it’s a job requirement, whichever case applies).
Suppose we’re talking about slips and falls, generally speaking. In that case, we’re discussing a problem relating to the connection between the foot and a stable walking surface. How do we mitigate such a scenario? With proper footwear, of course.
You wouldn’t ask a construction site worker to come to work in slippers, and you wouldn’t want to go trudging in snow and ice with a smooth-soled pair of loafers, either.
Appropriate footwear for workplace conditions is essential to preventing slip and fall incidents. Ensure you have a strict policy on the use of appropriate footwear. Similarly, I’ve gone as far as to send staff home when they arrive for work in the wrong attire. If it’s a safety concern, it’s a prime concern and mustn’t go overlooked.
Fall Protection Harnesses
Fall protection harnesses and lanyards are used whenever an individual or group of workers use elevating lift equipment. For example, a scissor lift or articulating boom lift both require the use of fall protection equipment.
Fall protection harnesses can save workers’ lives should they slip and fall while working at height. Fall arrest and fall restraint equipment must have an inspection before use.
You can use a fall protection harness inspection checklist to have your team document their harness, lanyard, and other fall arrest or prevention equipment. Due diligence is crucial when it comes to working at heights.
Proper Use And Maintenance Of PPE
By now, you should have a pretty good idea of the PPE requirements within your organization. However, you’ll want to confirm with a safety professional if you don’t. Ignorance, in the case of workplace safety, is no excuse or exception. Ensure you know what PPE your team needs, and enforce strict rules to ensure it’s used properly.
Incident Investigation And Analysis
If it’s one thing we know well, it’s incident reporting. 1st Reporting is all about providing a means for you and your team to manage and maintain the reporting process. Whether reporting a hazardous condition at work or documenting a floor safety inspection, we have the tools to get the job done.
Ensure your team knows how to complete an incident report. And don’t be afraid to implement technologies like 1st Reporting into your operations. Using a mobile form builder and management tool like 1st can save time and money and help you implement better safety practices. Furthermore, the onboard media tools help your team capture photos, audio, or video from their device to include in their reports.
Root Cause Analysis
Performing a root cause analysis following a hazard identification or an injury or incident is essential to determine prevention and mitigation policies. A root cause analysis can reveal further hazards that you may not have even considered, which is one of the reasons why these analyses are critical to safe operations.
Following an incident or root cause analysis, corrective actions are required to implement preventive procedures. Whether you go with engineering controls, administrative controls, or other means of prevention, it’s critical that you act accordingly to actively correct any issues that present hazardous conditions that could cause a team member or member of the public to face a slip and fall event.
Lessons Learned And Continuous Improvement
A part of the concept I’ve been getting at here is that we analyze a situation, document hazards for analysis, make plans and procedures, and learn from our mistakes. Whether a human error or an incident out of your team’s control, we must investigate and learn from each event. Remember, for every close call, there’s an injury. Let’s do our best to prevent these by analyzing reports, learning from accidents and incidents, and continuously striving to improve workplace conditions. As I said before, safety is everyone’s concern.
Training And Awareness
I’m certain we can all agree that accidents happen. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do our best to prevent them or at least attempt to lessen the potential. A robust training and awareness regiment is the best place to start with safety and incident prevention.
Team member Orientation
Team member orientations are critical for starting your team on the right foot. We recommend two forms of orientation training: Initial and comprehensive orientations and refresher orientations.
Initial orientations of new staff are critical to ensuring that your new team members start on a standardized program, emphasizing safety right from the start.
Refresher orientations are best carried out annually or when changes to facilities, equipment, or procedures deem it necessary to provide refresher training.
Ongoing Training Programs
As mentioned above, refresher training programs are critical to ongoing safety. However, it’s noteworthy to mention the difference between standard training programs and refresher orientations. In this case, orientation is intended to deliver a fresh perspective to the worker regarding facilities, equipment, and safety procedures.
On the other hand, ongoing training programs are far more focused on a more targeted topic. For example, you may require machine operators to have satisfactorily completed equipment safety training once per year with a safety refresher course halfway through the year.
Toolbox talks are a great way to get your team involved in company safety discussions while promoting safety and offering easily managed tips and strategies for ongoing safety. Toolbox talks also allow you to learn how your front-line workers could improve safety aspects. This feedback is invaluable for ongoing policy and procedure changes to help prevent incidents from occurring.
Promoting A Safe Work Environment
Promoting a safe work environment is the job of every manager and supervisor. When you promote safety and a safe work environment, you also promote buy-in from your team. Leadership starts at the top, so ensure your management team is on board with mitigation strategies for a safer work environment.
Emergency Response And First Aid
Depending on where your business operates, it may be necessary to have one or a few of your staff officially trained in first aid and CPR. For example, suppose your business operates in Ontario, Canada. In that case, you must have at least one staff trained in first aid and CPR when your company size gets six employees. However, if you are in the United States, OSHA doesn’t require any first-aid training, but they recommend it.
Emergency Action Plans
Emergency action plans are an integral part of your health and safety manual. Furthermore, any roles within your organization that are exposed to hazards should include emergency action plans to follow as applicable. You can include these emergency action plans, or EAPs, as a part of each role’s Standard Operating Procedures, or SOP, if you like. If you’d like to learn more about Standard Operating Procedures and how to write them, check out this guide.
You can also use an SOP template on our app or via download here.
First Aid Training
First Aid Training is usually from a few hours to a day, depending on where and who is teaching the course. Every major city has several companies offering first-aid training, so setting up your team for safety success is easy.
Regarding the typical injuries that occur due to slips, trips, and falls, having a first-aid-trained team member is a good idea, even if it isn’t mandated in your region. After all, it could be you who is saved.
Post-Incident Medical Care
Suppose a slip, trip, or fall incident occurs and someone sustains any serious injury. In that case, there is a high likelihood that post-incident medical care is a requirement following the incident. For example, suppose a person slips and falls and brakes their wrist. In that case, they may need physiotherapy to bring their hand back up to strength after enduring a cast for an extended period. Or, even more common, a person throws their back out from a simple slip or trip and needs repeated care for, sometimes, months or even years.
Post-incident medical care needs documentation and should be included with any other medical or incident-related documentation as necessary, ensuring the injured party and your organization maintain transparency and follow legislation for your state or province.
Monitoring And Evaluation
Monitoring, evaluating, and re-evaluating processes, facilities, and operations are key to evolving your organization’s workspaces into smooth, efficient, and safe environments. We need to cover three concepts here: inspections, indicators, and final review. Let’s start with the preliminary monitoring action, inspections, and audits.
Regular Inspections And Audits
Ongoing monitoring is necessary in any workplace, whether it’s fast-paced or not. Regular inspections and audits are a necessity to ensure that any potential trip, slip, or fall hazards are prevented from becoming incidents as much as possible.
There are few ways more transformative for an organization than evolving from paper inspection and audit reports to digital reporting. Using a digital reporting platform, like the industry standard 1st Reporting, is a sure way to optimize your team’s safety and operations.
With 1st Reporting’s powerful custom form builder, you can customize many forms, inspection checklists, audit templates, or other documents in the app’s library. Furthermore, you can make your custom suited to your specific needs. Add a dash of GPS and Microsoft Teams® compatibility, and you have a powerful mobile reporting tool to help you manage your teams more efficiently.
Key Performance Indicators
Once you have an established schedule and procedures for monitoring safety and hazards within your facility and job sites, you’ll start to determine the key performance indicators essential to your operation’s improvement.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are quantifiable measurements that reflect the critical success factors of an organization. For a Health and Safety Department, some essential KPIs to monitor relating to workplace slips, trips, and falls might include the following.
- The number of incidents. A basic KPI measures how many slips, trips, and falls occur over a set period of time. You can break it down by department, job site, or injury type to better identify areas of concern in which improvement is necessary.
- Incident severity. Every incident is different. One might be a pulled muscle, while another a broken bone. Therefore, it stands to reason that identifying trends about incidents involving injury is good to break down by how serious each injury was for the person involved.
- Near misses. Using a near-miss report template for your organization is a great way to improve safety and gain insights into how you could improve safety.
- Lost work days. Monitoring the amount of lost-time days is one-way organizations can keep track of potential causes for insurance rate increases, costs to both the organization and the worker, and more.
- Cost of incidents. This KPI helps you measure the cost of incidents. The cost will quickly show you that inaction costs you more than action.
- Training and education metrics: This includes the number of safety training sessions conducted, the percentage of employees trained in safety protocols, and feedback on the effectiveness of the training.
- Training and education metrics: This KPI includes the number of safety training sessions conducted, the percentage of employees trained in safety protocols, and feedback on the effectiveness of the training.
One of the best standards to have is that of continuous improvement. By analyzing and reviewing near misses, site inspections, safety audits, and incidents, you can start to find trends that reveal weaknesses. When you find a weak link in the chain, you can strengthen it to avoid breaking. In other words, when you notice trends relating to accidents like slip, trip, and fall incidents, you will have insight into areas of concern within your operations.
If your team has completed their paper reports, then depending on the size of your operation, the task of sifting through reports can quickly become more tedious. That’s one of the reasons we made the app, 1st Reporting – to help managers like you overcome safety hurdles and promote a safer work environment for all.
The Last Word
That concludes our two-part series on slips, trips, and falls. Remember that safety is everyone’s job, starting with the leaders and the management program you institute. So, keep moving forward; try the 1st Reporting app today, and find out how efficient and effective a digital reporting platform can be for your organization.