Slips and Falls: How To Prevent Them From Happening in Your Business

Small business owner mopping their space

Running a small business can be stressful. Not only are you responsible for the administrative duties that keep the lights on and the business running smoothly, you also have to ensure that your workplace is free of hazards.

That’s where it gets tricky. In many industries, workplaces are full of potential dangers. Anything from operating heavy machinery to water spilled on the floor could lead to a workplace catastrophe. In this article, we’ll explore two of the biggest dangers your business faces — slips and falls — and what you can do to help prevent them and how to help protect your business if an accident happens.

What are the Main Causes of Slips, Trips, and Falls?

To better understand the causes of slips, trips, and falls, it is important to know how to distinguish the three mishaps. According to OSHA:

  • A slip is a loss of balance due to a lack of friction underfoot.
  • A trip is being thrown off balance after your feet make contact with an object.
  • A fall is when you are thrown off your center of gravity to recover your balance. According to the National Safety Council, falls are the top cause of death in older adults.

The following are five common causes for loss of balance in the workplace.

1. Wet or slippery surfaces.

One common cause of workplace slips and falls is wet floors. According to the National Floor Safety Institute, slipping on slick surfaces accounts for 85% of workers’ compensation claims. Causes for slick floors could include:

  • Water and slush as the result of inclement weather conditions
  • Spilled water and drinks
  • Recent floor or surface cleaning (such as mopping)
  • Sleek flooring materials

2. Uneven surfaces.

If you’ve ever gone hiking or walked down a poorly maintained sidewalk, you probably understand how uneven surfaces could be dangerous. Slight deviations in surface level can be difficult to see, and can be major hazards. An uneven surface at a worksite could include:

  • Flooring with an unexpected step
  • Raised door thresholds
  • Bunched-up rugs or mats

3. Loose objects on the ground.

Tripping on something may not sound very sinister, but they can cause some serious problems. Sprain injuries, for instance, account for 8.9% of workers’ compensation claims. Objects such as crates, boxes, ladders, tools, and smaller pieces of equipment being left in walkways can lead to a dangerous work environment.

4. Poor lighting.

It may seem basic, but adequate lighting is crucial in the workplace. A burned-out bulb, a dark stairwell, or a dimly lit room can make it difficult for workers to see obstacles in their paths.

5. Distractions.

No job is easy when you’re surrounded by distractions. In some industries, distractions can actually create a potential hazard for employees. Excessive and sudden noises can startle people, potentially causing them to lose balance or fall. Wearing headphones on a jobsite can prevent workers from hearing warning signals.

Who Is Responsible for a Slip-and-Fall Accident?

While the importance of maintaining workplace safety should be impressed on every employee, employers ultimately bear the responsibility of providing the tools necessary to keep their workplace safe. These might include:

  • Equipping worksites with preventative features such as nonslip mats, handrails, and high-quality cleaning products.
  • Regular training programs to keep employees up-to-date on workplace safety.
  • Having clear procedures to avoid slips and falls and making sure it is accessible to all employees.

If safety protocols are not consistently maintained, it could lead to workplace injuries. The business owner could be held liable for these injuries. If a client becomes injured on your commercial premises, you as the business owner may be held responsible.

That’s where general liability insurance comes in. General liability insurance — also named business liability insurance — can protect businesses from major financial loss following workplace injuries. With liability insurance in place, If someone gets hurt, you are better protected against being left footing major medical bills.

Get Insured in Under 10 Minutes

Get an affordable & customized policy in just minutes. So you can get back to what matters: Your business.

Coverage to Keep Your Business Safe

While every business owner knows the key to preventing injuries in the workplace is maintaining a high standard of safety protocols, maintenance is only the beginning. But, even with the best preventative measures, accidents can happen.

We can help you from there. At Simply Business, we work with small business owners to find coverage that works for them. A workers’ compensation policy can provide benefits to employees in the event of injury, while a general liability policy is there if a client or customer becomes injured at your work site.

Start your quote online today. We’ll provide a personalized quote based on your business and insurance needs. Because helping small businesses is our business.

How to Control Slips, Trips, and Falls in the Workplace

While there is no singular way to avoid workplace mishaps entirely, there are plenty of ways to reduce them. Here are some actionable steps that you can take to ensure that your workplace is as safe and hazard-free as possible.

1. Address spills.

Any wet patch of floor could be dangerous if left for too long. Make sure to clean up wet floors as soon as you notice them. Use the right type of cleaner — some cleaning products can make the floor more slippery so you’ll want to avoid those. Use clear signage to alert people to wet floors.

2. Keep walkways clear.

Be on the lookout for anything that could potentially cause someone to trip. Make sure furniture and equipment are situated out of walkways so that everyone on the worksite has a clear path. Keep an eye out for any stray objects and clutter such as boxes, tools, and cables that could cause issues if undetected. Move anything out of the way that is blocking a walkway.

3. Use protective floor mats.

Floor mats can serve a number of purposes in the workplace. If you have areas that regularly get slippery or where extra traction is needed, consider a floor mat to add tread. Peel-and-stick floor mats can prevent the mats from bunching up and causing an additional hazard.

Additionally, it’s good practice to have mats available during inclement weather. Having mats at your entryway or anywhere water or slush could get tracked in can prevent slick floors.

4. Consistent housekeeping.

Good housekeeping is not limited to cleaning up spills. It includes maintaining a clean and functional workplace. Be sure to keep storage drawers closed when they’re not in use. Cover or tape down cables that lay across walkways. Tape down any rugs or mats to ensure they lay flat.

5. Good lighting.

Clear lines of sight are crucial, particularly around heavy machinery and tools. Make sure all walkways, stairwells, and work areas are fully and clearly lit.

6. Safety training.

Even with the best of intentions, it is easy for anyone to become lax with their workplace safety protocol. Provide regular safety training sessions to keep every employee up to speed and knowledgeable on how to maintain a safe work space.

7. Signage.

If your workplace contains sudden changes in floor height that can’t be quickly corrected, be sure to use signage to notify workers and clients of the change. This might include signs alerting people to watch out for a sudden step or drop, or a raised door threshold.

8. Proper attire.

Some industries have regular water and oil spills, creating a high risk of slips. Make sure your employees have appropriate, slip-resistant shoes to avoid a catastrophe.

How to Handle a Slip-and-Fall Accident

Accidents can happen to anyone. The best thing you can do is be as prepared as possible. Here’s how to respond in the event of a slip, trip, or fall:

Have a plan in place.

Make sure you have a clear plan and that your staff is trained on it as well.

Seek medical help.

Before anything else, call for medical assistance. Even if the injuries end up being minor, you don’t want to take any chances. It’s best if the injured party stays still — don’t try to move them before their physical condition has been assessed.

Examine the area.

Once the victim is safe and has received care, take photos or videos of the scene where the fall occurred. This will not only be important for insurance if a repair is needed, but also if the fall becomes a legal issue.

File an incident report and contact your insurance carrier.

Be sure to put all details on record.

Make changes to avoid future falls.

Assess how the fall occurred. Was there something that could have been done to prevent it? Could a repair make the incident scene safer? If so, make upgrades and repairs to reduce future risks.

Don’t Get Tripped Up

Your business is your livelihood. While it may be impossible to avoid any workplace mishaps, it’s important to do everything in your power to reduce risks. Always be on the lookout for ways to increase safety at your worksite. Be prompt and thorough with cleanup and repairs. Create a culture of safety among your employees, with regular training and clear communication,

You’re not just taking steps to keep your employees and clients safe — you’re keeping your business safe, too.

Kristin Vegh

After several years of working in insurance while also freelance writing, I’ve finally found where the two interests intersect. I’m a writer with Simply Business with an insurance processing background and a love of research.

Kristin writes on a number of topics such as small business trends, license reciprocity, and BOP insurance.