According to the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation, slips, trips and falls are the leading cause for worker injury. When staff or customers fall in your business, it doesn't just hurt them; it also hurts your reputation and your bottom line.
Most falls in businesses can be prevented, and prevention can be done largely through staff and customer education and motivation. The Ohio Council of Retail Merchants and the Golden Buckeye Program have partnered with STEADY U Ohio to provide tips and resources to retailers to make their businesses "fall-free zones."
Fall-Free Zone Tip Sheet
- Create a falls prevention policy for your business and make sure your employees know and understand it. Download our Sample Slips, Trips and Falls Prevention Policy
- Use the Slips, Trips and Falls Hazard Checklist to identify issues with flooring, stairs, lighting and housekeeping that could cause accidents.
- Post signs at your entrance and around the business advising customers to notify staff of slipping or tripping hazards. Download and print our sample signs.
- Ensure that walkways are clean and clear of cords and obstructions. If you must use rugs or mats, ensure that they remain flat and that they do not move under foot.
- Ensure that people can move freely around displays in the aisles without adjusting their gait. Avoid displays at the end of aisles that obscure a customer's view of other customers and obstacles.
- Have staff regularly monitor aisles for items that have fallen off shelves and are blocking. Quickly clean up all spills (dry materials can be just as slippery as wet). Provide supplies (i.e., towels, "wet floor" signs, trash cans) in convenient locations around your business.
- Keep outdoor walkways and entryways free of ice and snow. Regularly clean up water and salt that is tracked inside. Encourage customers to wipe their feet and use umbrella bags.
- Ensure that holiday decorations and displays do not protrude into walkways or cause "traffic jams." Assure that lighting levels are not too low or too high.
- Provide seating around your business, particularly in areas where customers may have to wait during busy times (e.g., near checkout lines, the service desk, the pharmacy, restrooms and exits).
- When it's snowy or icy, extend sales or offer shopping options for older customers (e.g., delivery or rain checks by phone) so they don't have to risk falling to get a good deal.
- Educate staff on proper lifting and carrying techniques and equipment, and instruct them to help customers carry large or bulky objects and bags.
- If someone falls, document the incident and examine the cause so that you can prevent future accidents. View a Sample Slips, Trips and Falls Incident Report.
- Empower staff to offer assistance to customers who appear to be having trouble getting around. Download a tip sheet on how to assist an older adult who appears to need help
A Business Case for Falls Prevention
Work-related slip, trip and fall incidents can frequently result in serious disabling injuries that impact a workers' ability to do his or her job, often resulting in:
- Lost workdays;
- Reduced productivity; and
- Expensive worker compensation claims.
However, the rate of slips, trips and falls in Ohio workplaces has been steadily declining. Employers are doing more to manage risk by implementing comprehensive prevention programs that include employee training, hazard assessment and creating policies.
How do falls impact businesses?
According to the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation, 21,513 of the 101,013 workers' compensation claims filed in 2011 were for occupational slips, trips, and falls. That's more than one in five workplace injuries due to falls! Employees who are age 45 or older are more likely to fall in the workplace than younger workers. Twenty-nine percent of these injuries result in the worker missing eight or more days of work.
Occupational slips, trips and falls rates by age
||Rate per 1000 employees
|65 and older
Injuries due to slips, trips and falls are most common in the service and manufacturing sectors. Ice, snow, water, grease and stairs are all risk factors.
More facts about slips, trips and falls in the workplace:
- Workers age 45 and older who slip, trip or fall are most likely to sprain a knee, while younger workers are most likely to sprain their ankles.
- About one-third (33.1 percent) of slips, trips and falls claims for workers age 45 and older result in lost time, while only one in four (24.6 percent) younger workers lose time at work.
- Among workers under age 45, men are more likely to fall than women; this trend is reversed for workers age 45 and older.
- The average BWC claim for lost time due to slips, trips and falls is $31,935.
Protecting Older Workers: A Call to Action (Ohio BWC)
Preventing Falls at Construction Sites (WorkSafe BC)
OSHA Falls Prevention
Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety & Health
Falls Injuries Prevention in the Workplace (CDC)
Prevention of Slips, Trips and Falls (Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety)
Slip, Trip and Fall Prevention for Healthcare Workers (CDC)
Don't Fall For It! (Campaign to Prevent Falls in Construction)
Top 10 simple strategies to reduce falls at work
- Provide and maintain a written housekeeping program.
- Keep floors clean and dry.
- Use proper cleaning procedures for floors.
- Wear slip-resistant shoes.
- Prevent entry into areas that are wet.
- Have adequate lighting.
- Take your time and pay attention to where you are going.
- Provide and maintain a written snow/ice removal plan.
- Place additional mats if necessary in entrances during ice, snow, and rainy conditions.
- Use step stools rather than standing on furniture.
Five focus areas for falls prevention
Bad housekeeping is estimated to cause 50 percent of all slip, trip and fall injuries. So improving housekeeping would eliminate a large number of injuries. Good housekeeping doesn't cost money; it just takes a little personal effort.
- Ensure there is a suitable walkway; keep it clear and free of cords and obstructions.
- Keep rooms tidy.
- Store items out of the way.
Stairs and handrails
A leading cause of injury on stairs is missing or damaged handrails. Enclosed stairways should have a handrail on at least one side, preferably the right side when descending. Open stairways should have a handrail on both sides. Handrails have two safety functions: 1) to act as a brace for someone walking up or down the stairs, and 2) to offer protection against falling on the open side.
- Make certain that all handrails are secure and that all stairways are well lit and free of obstacles such as shoes.
- When carrying a load on the stairs, always hold the handrail.
- If you have a landing and intend to use a small area rug, secure it with a nonslip pad.
Contaminants on and defects in walking surfaces
Contamination or defects can be classified as anything that ends up on a walking surface or is part of the walking surface. Examples include rainwater, oil, cardboard, product wrapping, dust, rugs, linoleum, etc. Most walking surfaces become slippery once they become contaminated. Defects may develop over time or be due to a major event. Preventing contamination and immediately fixing defects of the walking surface will reduce or even eliminate the risk of slips, trips and falls.
- Use nonslip pads with rugs.
- Repair leaking pipes.
- Secure loose steps.
When the contamination or defect occurs, employers should have a policy and procedure on how to report the hazard and take measures to address it.
Environmental issues that contribute to slips, trips and falls include lighting (natural or otherwise), loud or unfamiliar noises, the weather, humidity, condensation, and more. Here are some ways the environment can contribute to slips, trips and falls:
- Too much light on a shiny floor can cause a glare.
- Too little light can prevent an employee or customer from seeing a hazard.
- Unfamiliar and loud noises may be distracting.
- Rainwater on a walking surface may create a fall hazard.
- Cold weather can cause frost and ice to form, which may create slippery surfaces.
- Condensation may make a smooth floor slippery.
Good footwear may prevent many slips, trips and falls. Generally, footwear at work should be suitable for the working environment. To determine the most appropriate footwear for your workplace, consider these characteristics:
- Sturdy, well-fitting shoes with non-skid soles;
- Sole tread patterns;
- Sole material type and hardness;
- Comfort; and
Tip Sheet: Make Your Business a Fall-Free Zone
Tip Sheet: How Businesses Can Prevent Falls
Tip Sheet: How to Assist an Older Adult Who Appears to Need Help
Slips, Trips and Falls Hazard Checklist
Sample "Fall-Free Zone" signs
Sample Slips, Trips and Falls Incident Report
Sample Slips, Trips and Falls Prevention Policy