Workplace safety: preventing slips, trips, falls in office

  • Published
  • By Galen B. Williams
  • Electronic Systems Center Safety director
As a safety and health professional, I recognize that safety and health adds value to the work place. It's not just the right and socially responsible thing to do, it also saves critical resources. It saves money, avoids costs and maximizes returns on our most critical investment -- our Airmen.

The benefits include greater productivity, higher quality work, increased morale, reduced turnover and other tangible benefits. Clearly, safety and health add value to one's life. For our employees, getting hurt or sick is not just physically painful. It can reduce income, increase stress and hinder a full family life. We all need to understand this clearly enough to ensure personal ownership of our actions and ultimately our own safety. 

Slips, trips and falls are a leading cause of injury in the workplace and result in approximately 30,000 accidents daily in the United States. A wide variety of safety hazards can cause slips and falls, including: 
· Unguarded wet and slippery floors, which can result after cleaning or be caused by rainwater or snow being tracked inside. 
· Loss of balance. 
· Tripping over objects on the floor, such as trash, unused materials, open drawers, electrical cords, tools or anything else left in the way. At home this can include pets, children, and toys. 
· Falling from an elevated position, such as a ladder or stairs. · Foreign substances such as water, food, grease, oil or debris. 

To avoid becoming an unsuspecting victim, pick up out-of-place things and put them away. Don't risk others' safety by waiting for someone else to do it. If a contractor's materials present a safety risk, let them know right away that they have a safety hazard. 

Other safety tips
 · Walk in designated areas only -- shortcuts may contain unexpected hazards. · Maintain situational awareness -- concentrate on the task at hand.
 · Hold onto handrails when using stairs.
 · If you are carrying a heavy load, get help or use an elevator if one is available. 

The worst falls are from elevated positions, such as ladders. They can result in serious injury or even death. Ladder Safety tips include: 
· The proper length for a ladder positioned against a wall is three rungs above the highest point. 
· The proper angle for climbing a ladder is one foot away from the wall for every four feet of height. If you don't have that, be sure to tie the ladder securely to something. 
· When climbing or descending a ladder, place both hands on the side rails. Never climb a ladder with your hands full. Climb as high as you need to and hoist any tools or materials up with a rope. 
· Once you're at the necessary height, don't overreach. Your body and legs should be within the ladder side rails. Extend only your arms. 

Stay safe and be a good Wingman -- practice safety daily.