Slips, trips, and fall accidents (STF) are a leading cause of workplace injury in industrial facilities and warehouses. Walking-working surfaces, including stairways, walkways, ramps, and ladders, pose risks to employees and visitors. While all employees should remain aware on the work floor and throughout the facility, implementing a safety plan, identifying hazards, and clearly marking STF dangers all help create a safer space for all. Explore these five tips for reducing slip, trip, and fall injuries on-site, and tailor a plan to your location.
1) Identify Hazards Throughout the Facility
Slip, trip, and fall hazards can cause minor to serious injury—and even death. Identifying these hazards may seem like an obvious step, but keep an eye out for the not-so-obvious dangers throughout the facility as well. Explore the assembly line, warehouse, loading dock, materials storage spaces, offices, visitor areas, and parking lots to determine what risks must be addressed. Common STF hazards include:
- Loose objects such as tools or dropped items left on floors or elevated surfaces
- Debris from pallet breaks or other damaged tools or goods
- Seasonal hazards such as slippery or icy walkways
- Trip or strike hazards from jutting objects such as pallets, products, or open doors and drawers
- Hoses, tubes, wires, and cables in traveled areas
- Clutter and personal items, such as coats, gloves, briefcases, or bags
- Uneven or damaged work surfaces
2) Use Visual Cues to Bring Attention to Hazards
Floor marking tape, shapes, and signs improve navigation and highlight dangerous areas or trip hazards. While barriers, safety nets, railings, and guardrails add a layer of safety, highly visible signage should be available to bring attention to danger before an accident happens. Reducing fall-related injuries means including proper warnings so employees can avoid the danger in the first place. Use highly visible, durable floor tape to:
- Mark elevation changes, such as the edges of stairs or ramps
- Direct foot traffic flow
- Bring attention to hazards in slippery areas, such as entryways, loading docks, and freezers
- Highlight sloped walking surfaces
- Designate Do Not Enter or Authorized Personnel Only zones
- Emphasize caution where floor surfaces transition, such as carpet to tile or unpolished to polished flooring
- In case of emergency or loss of power, glow-in-the-dark floor marking tape aids in navigation
3) Standardize Housekeeping Procedures
Ensuring floors are clean and dry is only the beginning: To prevent walking-working surface accidents or injuries, create site-wide standards to ensure safety. This includes cleaning and maintenance requirements, spill control methods, and effectively using space for work or storage. Implement procedures to use facility-wide; some requirements to consider include:
- Floors must be clean and dry, and wet floor signs—including permanently affixed and temporary sandwich board-style signage—should be used to warn of danger.
- Keep icy walkways, steps, and entrances cleared, salted, and properly marked with warning signage. Freezer-rated floor tape holds securely even at below-freezing temperatures.
- Pedestrian walkways are included in regular housekeeping. Clutter, debris, and waste materials must stay out of footpaths—floor marking tape can present a visible boundary to reinforce the requirements.
- Create a waste disposal plan to prevent build-up in work areas, and implement a Red Tag holding area for tools and items that are no longer needed.
- Proper lighting is important in preventing STF accidents. Ensure areas are well-lit, blown bulbs are replaced right away, and emergency lighting is in place in case of a power outage.
4) Improve Organization with Designated Storage Space
Improve safety and keep track of tools, machinery, and supplies by marking assigned locations with durable vinyl tape, Superior Mark® floor marking tape, and signs. Clearly labeled spaces make it easy to see where items belong, which encourages employees to return things, rather than set them aside. A tidy, organized workspace means a reduction in trip hazards and other injuries. Additionally, post reminders for drawers, cabinets, and doors to remain safely closed and latched. To create a safer facility, appoint and label space for:
- Forklifts and loaders
- Lifting, pulling, and positioning equipment such as pallet jacks and hand trucks
- Manufacturing or packing scrap, recycling, and waste
- Housekeeping and cleaning supplies
- Individual tools, tool cabinets, and storage bins
5) Train Employees and Audit for Safety
Safety goes beyond requiring a fall hazard training program and slip-resistant footwear. While training will reinforce implemented preventative measures to reduce fall-related accidents, regular audits ensure the safety program is working as it should and helps catch areas that may be lacking. Implementing required safety checklists at the start of each shift ensures staff are aware of layout changes and on-site dangers, and hazards are either properly cordoned off or cleaned up before accidents can happen. Keep an eye out for:
- Icy entryways
- Grease, water, sawdust, or other slippery debris in walkways
- Floor mats or cords that may cause trip hazards
- Drawers or cabinet doors left open
- Temporary work areas that may change locations
While some of the most common workplace injuries are caused by slips, trips, and falls, there are a variety of solutions to minimize risk and prevent accidents. From visual cues and barriers to organizational methods and regular training, there are plenty of options for improving safety facility-wide. Explore our Resource Guide for more safety solutions.