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Workplace Safety 2

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Slips, trips, and falls are major sources of injuries to workers and the public. What can an employer or business owner do? Read on.

You may not have known that there is a National Floor Safety Institute. But there is:

And you may not know that overweight people requrie more slip resistant surfaces for safety (17% more resistance on average). But the NFSI knows.  Take a look at their safety info.

Our thanks to CNA Insurance for this link and for the following information about controling slips and falls. Surface maintenance, stair design, lighting, and periodic checks can help keep people on their feet.  Give GBW Insurance a call at 1-800-548-2329.

Slip, Trip and Fall Accident Control
Overall, slips, trips and falls are a major accident type in most industries, including schools and institutions. They account
for 10% to 30% of injuries to employees and the general public, and have an average cost ranging from $2,500 to $12,000.
According to the National Safety Council, slips, trips and falls are the second leading cause of accidental deaths.
Slips, trips and falls may occur on level walking surfaces as well as on ramps and stairways. Major hazards associated with
slip, trip and fall injuries are slippery surfaces, holes or broken surfaces, poor drainage or inadequate cleanup of spills or
mud, ice, and water during inclement weather. Falls are frequently the result of both unsafe conditions and unsafe acts.
Personal factors such as age, illness, emotional state, fatigue, inattention, and poor vision also contribute to falls.
Slippery surfaces can occur from: applying polymer over wax dressing; allowing inadequate drying time; buffing to a mirror–
like gloss; incomplete removal of grease or oil; or allowing cleaning residue to mix with freshly applied finishes.
Materials used to prevent slips may become tripping hazards. These include mats with curled edges, tears or warps and
abrupt changes in traction provided to adjacent walking surfaces. Mats that have become wet and dirty may make the soles
of shoes wet and dirty rather than drying and cleaning them.
Floor surfaces and materials may contribute to slips and falls among employees and the general public. Proper choices in
flooring materials, use of special finishes, mats, tapes, grooving, texturing and keeping the floor clean and dry can prevent
slips and falls.
Major hazards are slippery surfaces, holes or broken surfaces, poor drainage or inadequate cleanup of spills or tracked in
mud, ice and water during inclement weather. Identify and evaluate floor conditions during regular walk around surveys,
and pay special attention to:
• building entrances where water, mud, grit and dirt are tracked in
• loading platforms that may be open to the elements
• work areas around machinery or office equipment
• areas where floor level changes due to steps or ramps
Any specific deficiencies observed should be discussed with management. Inquire into reasons for the deficiencies and
review policies concerning floor maintenance, spill clean–up and actions during inclement weather.
A principal cause of floor accidents is the inherent slipping hazard of various types of floor surfaces. Terrazzo, marble,
ceramic tile, painted wood or concrete, metal and some vinyl floors may be slippery unless non–slip measures are taken.
Carpet is less slippery. Safety, appearance, initial cost, durability, and maintenance costs influence the selection of flooring
OSHA General Industry Safety Standards, 1910.22 require floors to be clean and dry. Proposed regulations require floor
surfaces to be free of recognized hazards and if the surface cannot be maintained free of hazards such as snow, ice or oil,
there should be a means to minimize exposure. Regular inspection and maintenance should keep the surfaces in safe
Opportunities for improvement include:
• Increasing the slip resistance of slippery floor areas
• Replacing rotted, worn, loose and warped wood flooring
• Repairing cracks and holes in concrete floors
• Repairing tears in carpet
• Conducting regular and frequent housekeeping surveys
• Following flooring manufacturer’s instructions
• Assigning maintenance and housekeeping personnel to specific designated areas
• Covering housekeeping principles and the need for clean up of spills in new employee orientation
• Establishing a procedure to clean only one section of floor at a time so traffic can pass safely
Increase the slip resistance of slippery floor areas. Contact floor covering suppliers and safety product distributors to
determine the best material for the floor involved. Most suppliers can furnish a floor finish to specification, so specify a friction level when ordering. Comparative tests of various treatments may need to be made to determine which one is mostpreferable from all standpoints.
Rotted, worn, loose, and warped wood flooring should be repaired or replaced to reduce tripping hazards. Repair cracks
and holes in concrete floors to reduce tripping hazards. Folded or wrinkled carpets should be stretched and tears should
be repaired promptly.
Conduct regular and frequent housekeeping surveys to identify and correct unsafe floor conditions. Inspections also
stimulate satisfactory housekeeping standards. Surveys should be documented. Follow flooring manufacturer’s instructions
to keep floors clean and safe. Use of the wrong cleaning materials, methods and surface finishing can cause suitable
flooring types to deteriorate and become slippery. Floor maintenance and housekeeping procedures should be
standardized and written. Assign maintenance and housekeeping personnel to specific designated areas to assure they
perform their function effectively.
Cover housekeeping principles and the need for clean up of spills in new employee orientation. Procedures should include
cleaning only one section of floor at a time so traffic can pass safely. Use warning signs, and rope off areas until floor
cleaning is finished and the floor is dry. Post signs indicating alternate routes. Block doorways to stairs and escalators.

In the United States, stair accidents annually result in about 800,000 injuries requiring emergency room treatment.
Approximately one person in seven will receive hospital treatment for a stair accident in his or her life. The Bureau of Labor
Statistics estimates there are nearly 33,000 disabling work injuries a year involving falls to lower levels on stairs. This
accident type accounts for 1.3% of all lost time injuries and illnesses. Eighty percent of the workers lost 18 days from work
with an average hospital stay of seven days.
Factors associated with high accident rates include:
􀀀 riser/tread dimensions such that the stairs are steep
􀀀 location of the stair between first and second floor, high use
􀀀 dimensional irregularities, turns
􀀀 low head room
􀀀 edges difficult to orient
􀀀 age of user
􀀀 careless and casual habits
A checklist for good stair features could be quite simple:
􀀀 steps should be readily seen
􀀀 treads are large enough to provide adequate footing
􀀀 handrails are reachable and grasp able (Small children need to be considered in handrail height and grab bar spacing
in residential, commercial and public buildings. A safe opening space for handrails is between 5 to 5.5 inches.)
􀀀 visual distractions in the vicinity of the stairs should be eliminated
NFPA 101 Life Safety Code requires the following stair dimensions for new stairs:
Minimum clear width of stairs 44 in, 36 in where less than 50 occupants use stairs
Height of risers 4–8 inches
Minimum tread depth 9–11 inches
Head room 6′ 8″
Maximum height between landings 12 ft
Treads may have a maximum slope of 1/4 inch per foot in order to shed water. The Life Safety Code requires handrails on
each side of new stairs and ramps with a slope of 1:15 or greater. Intermediate handrails are required within 30 inches of all
portions of the required stair width. A person can only reach about 24 inches to the side to grasp a handrail.

The Life Safety Code, NFPA 101 requires guards on all surfaces that are 30″ or more above the floor below to prevent falls
over the open side. Such changes in elevation can occur at landings, balconies, corridors, passageways, floor or roof
openings, ramps, aisles, porches or mezzanines. The code does not require guards on stairs with handrails on each side.
The Life Safety Code designates ramps as class A or B ramps:
Class A Class B
Minimum Width 44 in 30 in
Maximum Slope 1 in 10 1 in 8
Maximum height between landings 12 ft 12 ft
Proposed OSHA regulations require handrails on stairs over four risers, and guardrails when fall distance is over four feet.
OSHA allows riser height between 6.5 and 9.5 inches and minimum tread depth for closed risers of 8 inches, 6 inches for
open risers.
Major opportunities for improvement may include:
• make steps more apparent
• repair loose carpeting on treads
• turn guardrail and handrail ends into the wall
• install a handrail on the stair
• provide regular housekeeping inspections of stairs
Steps can be made more apparent by using handrails, warning signs, marking the nosing of the steps or through
Repair loose carpeting on treads. Carpeting can be fastened by providing eyes and rods where treads and risers meet.
Metal nosing can be installed flush with the tread material to provide a tactile clue at the step edge. Gritty, self-adhesive
tape can be applied to the stair tread and nosing but it requires regular maintenance.
Turn guardrail and handrail ends into the wall to prevent them from catching clothing. Install a handrail on the stair or ramp
to help prevent serious falls. A good handrail should be:
• Circular, oval or oblong in cross section for a good grip; the use of rectangular handrails that do not allow a power
grip is discouraged.
• Handrail circumference should be no less than 4.4 inches and no greater than 5.2 inches. For cylindrical handrails
this translates to a diameter between 1.4 and 1.65 inches.
• Handrail height, measured from the top surface of the handrail to the tread surface at the leading edge of the
tread should range from 31 to 33 inches, with 33 inches the preferred value whenever possible.
• Handrails should have a 4 5/8 inch finger clearance from any other object. A clearance of 2 1/4 inches is
considered minimum.
Regular housekeeping inspections can help to keep stairs clear and dry.

Include sidewalks in your inspection and preventative maintenance program. Check the condition of sidewalks as well as
what type of material was used to construct them. Smooth materials such as marble and terrazzo should be avoided if
possible. Rough finished concrete provides good slip resistance, even when wet.
Sidewalks should be level, with no ridges or height changes greater than 1/4 to 1/2 inch. They should have serrations or a
tactile change of surface at any change of elevation. Sidewalks should have no holes large enough for a heel to fit into (not
including spike heels). They should have a coefficient of friction greater than 0.6 when wet and have a non–slip textured
surface finish.
Major areas of risk improvement include:
• Initiate a sidewalk maintenance program
• Train maintenance or security personnel to inspect sidewalk conditions
• Remove any worn or slippery sidewalk paint
• Improve sidewalk drainage
• Barricade sidewalk holes or repairs
• Install ramps or barricades over pipes or wires
• Install heated sidewalks
Remove sidewalk paint or finish that may be worn or non–slip resistant. Smooth finished sidewalks can be very slippery
when wet. Improve drainage to prevent the accumulation of standing water or ice on sidewalks. Ice and snow are major
contributors to sidewalk slips and falls. Install a tactile change of surface if any visually impaired people use the sidewalk.
This will assist them in determining changes in elevation such as steps and curbs.
Barricade off any holes or areas under repair to draw attention to them and prevent unauthorized access. Cover with a
ramp or barricade, any pipes or wires laid across the sidewalk to prevent trips and falls. Install heated sidewalks to prevent a
buildup of ice and snow.
Train maintenance or security personnel to include sidewalk condition in their regular building checks. Initiate a sidewalk
maintenance program which includes inspection of sidewalk conditions and prompt repair.

Aisles, Walkways
Aisles should be wide enough to allow workers to move about freely while handling materials and allow safe passage of
equipment. Aisles should be kept free of obstructions and have dry, slip–resistant surfaces.
OSHA General Industry Safety Standards, 1910.22 require aisles to be clean and dry. Permanent aisles should be marked.
Proposed standards would require 18 inch clearance around obstacles. National Fire Protection Association standards
require access be kept clear to fire alarms and extinguishing equipment.
Opportunities for improvement may include:
• increase aisle width
• place mirrors, warning signs or signals
• mark aisles
• provide all–weather walk off mats
• assign supervisor responsibility for housekeeping
General lighting of work areas and walkways may help prevent slips and falls. General lighting includes natural sunlight,
general overhead lighting and task lighting. Adequate lighting can help employees and the general public detect hazards
and avert them.
Identify the areas where poor illumination or no illumination, as well as direct glare, reflected glare, dark shadows, and visual
fatigue can contribute to accidents. These areas may include:
• building entrances
• parking lots
• loading platforms and service entrances
• work areas around machinery and office equipment
• areas where floor level changes
• stairs
Opportunities for improvement include:
• Provide task lighting
• Reduce glare
• Missing or burned out light bulbs are indications of poor maintenance
Provide switches for stair lighting at each access to stairs so that lights can be turned on to reduce the risk of an employee
climbing or descending a dark stair.

For more information please call us toll-free at (866) 262-0540 or visit us online at
CNA is a service mark registered with the United States Patent and trademark Office. The information and suggestions presented in this document have been developed from sources believed to be reliable.
However, CNA accepts no legal responsibility for the correctness or completeness of this material or its application to specific factual situations. This document is for illustrative purposes only and is not a contract.
Only the policy can provide actual terms, coverages, amounts, conditions and exclusions. Copyright 2005 Continental Casualty Company. All rights reserved.

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