Slips, trips and falls: 7 steps to prevent them and prepare for the February blitz

Jan 12, 2015

Wet floorNext month's slip, trip and fall inspection blitz is the second in two years. "There's no question the ministry is taking this hazard very seriously," says WSPS consultant Kevin Smith. "And for good reason: slips, trips and falls consistently rank among the top four causes of workplace injuries."

During last years' blitz, inspectors issued 11,800 orders, including 625 stop work orders. "This tells me that many workplaces can do more to recognize and control the hazards," says Smith. "It's not complicated, and it will make your workplace safer and more productive."

Take these seven steps now to protect your workers and your business.

  1. Understand what causes slips, trips and falls. Download these 6-page overviews: Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls, and Good Housekeeping at Work.
  2. Learn from last year's blitz results. See "Key findings," below.
  3. Conduct a hazard assessment: compile an inventory of locations, work practices and equipment that could pose a risk of injury. "It doesn't have to be elaborate," says Smith. "The important thing is to get a grasp of where the hazards are so that you can start controlling them.".
  4. Identify and implement quick fixes and create an action plan for longer term solutions. "For same level falls in particular, the solutions are often simple and inexpensive. The real challenge is to stay on top of the hazards.".
  5. Make slips, trips and falls the focus of ongoing inspections conducted by your joint health and safety committee or worker health and safety representative. Ensure they have the understanding and tools they need. Start with WSPS' slip, trip and falls resources page, which links you to free downloads, e-courses, consulting services, and a Certification Part Two course dedicated to slip, trip and fall hazards.
  6. Mount a slip, trip and fall poster campaign. Download WSPS' falls infographic poster.
  7. Add slip, trip and fall prevention to pre-shift and tailgate talks before, during and after the blitz. This will encourage people to work safely and alert their supervisor to any hazards they encounter. Most workers are conscientious about cleaning up a spill, but reporting the hazard can also prevent recurrences.

"Involve your joint health and safety committee or worker health and safety representative wherever possible," says Smith. "It helps them become more aware and skilled at identifying hazards and formulating recommendations, which has lasting benefits when dealing with any hazard."

More pragmatically, many hands make light work. Committees and representatives can manage some or all of these steps if they have the training, resources, and go-ahead from the employer. They can also help sustain the workplace's prevention efforts by:

  • tracking progress on implementing longer term solutions,
  • ensuring related policies and procedures stay up to date (e.g., housekeeping, footwear, snow removal…),
  • monitoring ongoing risk factors, such as lighting levels, floor condition, and access to spill clean-up equipment.

Key findings from last year's blitz

Inspectors visiting workplaces in the manufacturing and service sectors looked for hazards that could cause same-level falls, as well as falls from heights, ladders, mobile ladder stands, and platforms.

The three most frequently issued orders involved failing to:

  • ensure the safety of floor surfaces (48%),
  • ensure safe material handling (34%),
  • provide adequate guardrails (10%).

In almost half of the workplaces visited, at least one order was issued for failing to meet employer requirements involving joint health and safety committees and/or worker health and safety representatives. For more details, read the Ministry of Labour's 2013 blitz report.

We can help

WSPS has all the resources and expertise you need to: