Whether it’s watching Wiley Coyote and Roadrunner or the Three Stooges, you must admit that slips and falls are always good for a cheap laugh.   My favorite version of this kind of adolescent humor is to see the Roadrunner trip up Wiley Coyote causing him to fall, usually a very long distance, to the ground. Then what follows is a complex series of events, resulting in additional rocks, or dynamite in rocks, to rain down on Wiley and flatten him into submission … beep, beep.  Another great example of this slapstick, slip and fall humor is Home Alone.  That movie is absolutely painful to watch.

While this kind of entertainment may satisfy our inner thirteen-year old, we don’t want to be replicating slapstick humor with real life examples of slips and falls. In the past several years, our retro program has been hurt by a number of serious injuries including suspected traumatic brain injuries, serious knee, shoulder, neck and back injuries exceeding a million dollars in aggregate negative impact on our program.  From a financial standpoint, slips and falls are no joke to our retro program’s performance.  Likewise, these injuries can be life altering to your employees.  The sad thing about so many slip and fall injuries is that they could have been easily prevented. 

  • Footwear  – We have discussed this previously, but we need to remind you that if there is one thing your organization could do to prevent slip and fall injuries it would be to mandate appropriate footwear for all staff, including management, at all times and in all locations of your community.   For example, no one, in slick soled or high heeled shoes, should ever be exposed to walking on wet floors.  Likewise, unstable high-heeled or platformed shoes are very dangerous going down flights of stairs and must be avoided even though they may meet fashion needs associated with marketing or other managerial responsibilities.
  • Clear Walkways – Objects on floors, below an employee’s knee level, are sometimes not capable of being seen in an employee’s peripheral vision.   That is one reason that hallways and aisleways, along with storage areas, need to be kept clear of trip hazards.   Wet floors also need to be properly marked to put employees on notice of a wet floor hazard. However, even with adequate warning signage, if the employee’s footwear is improper, accidents can occur.
  • Flooring Surfaces – Does your organization use flooring most likely to prevent slips and falls?    Carpet provides good traction even when wet but is not appropriate in all areas. On the other hand, worn carpet can present a trip hazard.   Tile is best in kitchen or dishwashing areas, but water on a tile floor can present a significant hazard.  Remediation efforts like mats that drain away water from the employee’s standing surface can make a slick tile floor much safer.
  • Employee Awareness – As with all things safety, employees consciously working to be safe to avoid being victims is critical.   If you think about defensive driving courses, essentially, they teach drivers to assume all other drivers are idiots and, to drive accordingly.  A similar situational self-awareness in your employees will prevent many injuries.  For example, walking quickly down some stairs, in pair of high heels, with arms overloaded with materials, is a prescription for disaster and demonstrates a complete lack of situational awareness by the employee.  If the employee had thought through her exposure for injury, maybe different choices could be made.

We want to encourage you to look at your employee Accident Prevention Plan to determine if there are areas you could spruce up so as to encourage your employees to avoid any Wiley Coyote/ Roadrunner replays.