Please Help Me - I'm Falling
Every day across Canada, numerous employees sustain broken bones and other injuries from same-level and elevated falls.
Sometimes the injuries are fatal.
Many times an injury from a fall could have been prevented with more awareness of potential hazards and careful attention to proper procedures.
As an owner/manager, you are keenly aware of the regulations within your industry for safety standards and employee instruction. But in spite of regulations and numerous safety programs, people continue to sustain injuries from falls. To ensure you are taking every reasonable precaution to protect employees and customers from accidental falls, take time to walk around your work areas - the office, store, plant or remote work site - and observe carefully.
• Are aisles and walkways clear of obstacles and adequately lit?
• Are snow and ice on outside walkways cleared promptly?
• Are wet floors cleaned promptly?
• Are safety zones and hazardous areas clearly marked?
• Are employees wearing protective equipment? Is it in good repair?
• Are employees securing equipment such as ladders and scaffolds properly when in use? Are they storing equipment properly?
• Are guardrails, safety lines and safety screens in place where needed? Are they in good repair?
• Do employees consistently demonstrate safe work practices? (A rush job should not mean slack safety procedures.)
Reduce the risk of falls
To reduce the risk of falls in your work areas, consider setting up a company-wide fall prevention program.
• Provide training and post information to ensure everyone knows and understands the company's efforts to prevent falls. This safety awareness should be ongoing and include both full-time and part-time employees.
• Assign a safety monitor in each employee group to identify and report potential hazards that could cause someone to trip or fall. Remind this person that this responsibility is not static.
• Encourage all employees to be attentive to potential hazards that could cause a fall and to take quick action when a problem is identified.
Consider posting practical tips in your work areas to remind employees about such matters as the following:
• Wear the required safety footwear and other protective gear.
• Return items to their appropriate place when a job is finished.
• Switch on lights before entering dark areas.
• Secure and store cords, ropes, and cables properly. If cables or cords must be run through a walk area, make sure they are securely anchored with duct tape.
• Attend to spills immediately. Clean it up or notify the person responsible for clean-up and post warning signs.
• Keep to the indicated safe walkways in hazardous areas.
• Be alert to, and correct, potential hazards such as protruding pipes or lumber.
• Report any unsafe floor conditions such as damaged carpeting or uneven flooring.
To find more information and training resources for setting up a fall prevention program, contact your provincial Workers' Compensation Board or visit its Web site. There are also many safe workplace associations and health and safety centres that can provide you with industry-specific fall prevention strategies and training programs.
A safe workplace ensures a better quality of life for employees, improves productivity, and minimizes the company's insurance costs. Make safety everyone's concern.