How you can minimize and prevent these risks to keep your tribal insurance rates low
Definitions, stats, costs, frequency
Slips, trips and falls (STFs) are occupational hazards found in almost every type of work setting within tribal businesses, from gas stations to offices or restaurants. STFs occur in even the most safety conscious tribal companies occasionally, because of the human factor (i.e. not paying attention, carrying a load unsafely, compromising known safety habits, etc.). This article will help you spot areas that may need evaluating and provide options to increase tribal workplace safety, minimizing claims to your tribal insurance.
First, let’s define slips, trips and falls
Slips occur when there is too little friction or traction between footwear and the floor surface, such as from wet floors or loose rugs.
Trips happen when the foot strikes an object, resulting in a loss of balance. In a trip, momentum causes your body to continue forward. Common causes for trips can be uneven pavement, cords or clutter.
Falls can occur from a slip or trip that results in the body being too far off balance to be able to regain balance. It can be a fall at the same level or a fall to a lower level.
Next, let’s talk numbers
- 3.8 million disabling work injuries are caused each year by slips, trips, and falls
- STFs are the cause of the majority of general industry accidents, says the US Dept. of Labor
- STFs comprise 25 percent of the most frequently reported injuries, accounting for 12 percent to 15 percent of all workers’ compensation costs
- The average disabling cost of a slip, trip, and fall claim is upwards of $28,000
- STFs cause 15 percent of all accidental deaths, second only to motor vehicle accidents
Use this checklist for pinpointing hazards in tribal workplace safety
Causes of slips
- Fluid spills on smooth floors or walking surfaces, such as water or grease
- Dry spills such as powder, dust, granules and small objects such as metal nuts and bolts
- Highly polished floors such as marble, ceramic tile or polished concrete
- Unanchored rugs or mats
- Sloped walking surfaces
- Loose surfaces such as gravel
- Weather hazards (rain, ice)
- Leaves, pine needles and other plant debris
Causes of trips
- Rumpled carpets or mats, or those with curled edges
- Uneven flooring, or flooring with irregularities, particularly at thresholds
- Cables or cords across walkways
- Clutter or debris in walkways
- Damaged or irregular steps on stairways
- Sidewalk or curb drops
- Speed bumps
- Uneven pavement
- Impairment due to alcohol or drugs
- Failing eyesight or visual impairments
- Fatigue or distraction
- Stress or illness
Conditions worsening the risk
- Poor lighting and shadows
- Glare from sunlight or flashing lights
- Excess noise
- Poor housekeeping
- Fog or mist
- Missing or inadequate signage
How you can minimize/prevent STFs for tribal workers and patrons
Good housekeeping: a safety culture. Establishing excellent housekeeping practices for tribal workplace safety and holding the team accountable to maintain the standards is crucial to preventing STFs both for your employees and your customers. Employees should be tasked with always keeping an eye out for debris or other obstacles that could cause a stumble. Ensure that employees in behind-the-scenes work areas use designated walkways that are kept clear, not taking shortcuts that can trip them up. Adhering to high housekeeping standards, and rewarding those who contribute, help build a culture of safety.
Regular management inspections focusing on housekeeping can encourage better housekeeping and a higher performing safety culture. Management inspections might include:
- Walk-throughs of the work area focusing on general cleanliness
- Audits of spill response and spill response stations
- Inspecting work areas just after daily cleaning is completed and after periodic deep cleaning has been performed
Stepping up your safety game in inclement weather is critical, by adding larger floormats at entrances, monitoring exterior walkways, parking lots and stairs for debris and adding caution signs where appropriate.
Restrooms and entrances are especially susceptible to customers’ STFs.
For patrons, restrooms are prone areas for STFs. Ensure housekeeping keeps the floors dry and debris such as paper towels picked up.
Ensure kitchens and other wet work areas include proper mats, drip pans and drains, and that exhaust ventilation is working properly. Train kitchen staff to prevent spills from reaching the floor whenever possible, to minimize hazards.
Cords cause a lot of trips. Whether it’s cords for construction tools used for maintenance, the vacuum cleaner cords used by housekeeping, extension cords in the offices, or cords in thousands of other places – they are a major trip hazard. Whenever possible, cover the cords with a mat or rug. Ensure vacuum cleaner cords are brightly colored – and clearly distinguished from flooring. Tightly wrap and secure cords for office equipment.
Immediate spill response. Train the staff at your tribal business to react to spills immediately, cleaning up the spill themselves if possible. If the employee can’t leave his area, he should isolate the hazard and get the clean-up crew on the scene, pronto. It may be wise to station an employee next to the spill to verbally warn passers-by of the hazard. After the spill is cleaned, a hazard sign should remain until the floor is once again dry.
It seems like a minor point, but it’s important for staff to promptly remove the wet floor sign once the floor is completely dry. If wet floor signs are regularly left out when the floors are dry, staff may begin to disregard them. By having the signs put away as soon as the floor is dry, employees will be more likely to exercise caution and walk slowly when they see a wet floor sign.
Slips, trips, and falls occur outside at any time, but winter months tend to have the highest frequency of these injuries because of rain, ice and snow. In addition, it may often be dark when patrons and staff arrive and leave during the winter, and reduced visibility can increase risk.
Winter months have the highest incidence of slips, trips and falls.
Here are some issues to check to minimize those risks.
- Tire bumpers: Ensure that they are not so wide as to stick out beyond the normal car width; otherwise, people can trip over them as they walk between cars.
- Visible bumpers and curbs: Paint these to make them more visible, especially during evening hours.
- Uneven surfaces: Regularly inspect and maintain walkways and pavement, watching for raised sidewalks, tree roots, potholes, and uneven paving materials such as brick or pavers.
- Ice and snow: Establish an inclement weather procedure that addresses who’s responsible for clearing snow and ice from sidewalks, steps, and pathways and how this will be done. Provide easy access to shovels, de-icer, kitty litter, sand, a tractor, and other tools staff will need. If you use sand or small gravel to increase traction when snow and ice are on sidewalks or in parking areas, promptly sweep it up once the snow or ice melts. Sand and small rocks on dry sidewalks can increase the risk of a slip and fall injury.
The costs to provide necessary equipment and training to ensure the safety of both your employees and your customers pale in comparison to the lawsuits that may result when a person slips, trips or falls, and the resulting rate increases to your tribal casino insurance. Following these tips and procedures can help you minimize that risk.