It has happened to all of us: that trip on the uneven surface, slipping on ice, a stumble at a step.
Slip and fall accidents in the workplace are a reality in the U.S. According to statistics from the Department of Labor, about 65% of all workdays lost in America are due to slips, trips, and falls.
What causes these accidents?
Explained in slightly scientific terms, your shoe momentarily loses traction with the walking surface or made contact with some or other object that led to a fall. The list of situations and real-life stories out there are endless, but here are a few common situations that can cause a fall:
- Different floor types and the transition from one to another
- A freshly polished floor
- Loose carpeting or mats
- Muddy or greasy shoes
- Metal surfaces
- Cords and cables
- Wet and slippery floors
Anti-skid footwear can make a huge difference.
Why should employees wear anti-skid safety shoes?
Almost 20% of all workplace accidents are slip and trip related. It is estimated that these injuries result to about 11 days away from work for the employee. A slip-and-trip can cost an employer up to $40 000 per incident.
Footwear appropriate to the type of work you do can reduce the risk of an accident significantly.
Studies have shown that where U.S. employees in the fast food service were required to wear anti-skid shoes, the frequency of slip/fall injuries has diminished 5-fold. There is no reason why it should be any different in other industries.
Choosing your shoe
What type of shoe should I choose?
Slip-resistant shoes are rated from 0.0 (which are the rating of normal shoes without any resistance) to 1.0 (the best that you can get.) It is like walking on a carpet.
The measuring of the traction on a slip resistant shoe is called the CoF, or the “Coefficient of Friction.” Slip-resistant shoes are tested under wet or oily conditions. A shoe should have a rating of between 0.54 and 0.8 to be classified as non-slip.
It is the sole of the shoe that is the deciding factor. Different shoes have different soles for different types of environments. The worksite condition is, therefore, an important factor to keep in mind when choosing an anti-slip shoe.
If fluids are a hazard: the footwear should have a close-packed thread in soft material. It should have deep cleats and be flexible.
If there are loose solids, like sand or mud: shoes should have a wider tread pattern with wider channels.
Ice conditions: Spikes that can bite into the ice is preferable.
Remember, however, that no shoe is totally slip-proof. Every work environment should also have an overall safety system in place.
The responsibility of the employer
A clean, well-organized facility would be less prone to the incidence of employee injuries. Employers are responsible to keep house on an ongoing basis and to implement clean-up procedures.
Employers should identify all wet and slippery surfaces and remove the risk. This can be done by removing ice and snow as soon as possible, or by using anti-skid paint on wet surfaces. Indoor control is also important: the cleaning up of spills, displaying wet floor signs and the use of non-slip, stable floor mats in areas that can get wet. Walkways should be kept clear and cables and cords secured.
A hazard analysis can be insightful. How do your floor surfaces look? Are tasks for each job designed to be efficient and what role did employee ‘travel paths’ play in previous accidents? Did previous falls and slips have anything to do with the type of shoes that employees were wearing?
A non-slip shoe program
A slip accident at work is a huge headache for any employer. Not only should the employee be taken to the hospital and their shift must be covered by someone else, but you will also have a large amount of paperwork to do. A non-slip shoe program will save you time and money.
Such a program typically states that all employees have to wear shoes that are truly slip resistant.
Usually, an employer enters such a program with a reputable shoe company. They specify through promotional material which models are approved by the company. The company can deduct that cost of the shoes from employee’s salaries over a period of time. Some companies even reimburse employees for medical expenses if they suffer from a slip and fall while wearing the company-specified shoes.
Appropriate safety footwear is almost always part of the solution in slip- and fall accidents. The importance thereof should not be underestimated. The right shoe may ultimately avert or lessen damage from a slip and fall accident at work. Employers should not ignore this fact.