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

In honor of National Safety Month, APTIM Health, Safety & Environment (HSE) teammates share their perspective on APTIM’s leading safety culture with blog posts throughout June.

Chris Guzzardo, EHS Manager of Government

APTIM | Resilience & Infrastructure Solutions

Monica Bissen, Site Safety Officer of Government
APTIM | Resilience & Infrastructure Solutions


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

Have you ever heard of the Focus 4: caught between; struck by; electrocution; and slips, trips, and falls? They are responsible for approximately 90% of job site accidents and injuries. Today, we will discuss slips, trips, and falls; how they affect us on the job; and how we can avoid them.

Causes of Slips, Trips, and Falls


As shown above, 16% of all slips, trips, and falls are from housekeeping issues. If you work in the manufacturing or construction industries, you most likely know someone who has been injured by a slip, trip, or fall incident. Do not assume that because you have walked across hosing, ice, piping, or another obstacle before without consequence, that you should do it again; you could easily misjudge the clearance, lose your balance, and fall to the ground. Alternatively, do not assume an item on the ground is noticeable enough; it could cause a teammate to slip.

Elevated Surfaces

Best case scenario is that falls from elevated surfaces cause debilitating injuries, but more often these incidents end with fatalities. As can be seen in the above illustration, keeping your work area clean, well lit, and free of wet or slick surfaces can reduce your likelihood of a fall from heights by 42% when working off scaffolding, mobile aerial work platforms, and even on fixed structures.

The human factor can lead us to make hasty or poor judgements, accounting for 54% of slips, trips, and falls. How many times have you climbed one step higher or reached a little further? These poor judgements can injure you and your teammates. The best way to prevent falling from ladders is to ensure you have the right ladder for the job:

  1. Inspect the ladder for damaged rungs, legs, and feet, and check that the ladder rungs are clean and dry (no water or oil). If damaged, red tag it and get it off the job site.
  2. Confirm that the ladder is the right height. Do not underestimate the size of ladder you need to complete your task safely. Avoid using a ladder that is too small just because you do not want to carry it around.

In addition, OSHA regulation 1926.501 requires individuals walking/working surfaces 6 feet (1.8 meters) or more above a lower level where leading edges are under construction, but who is not engaged in the leading-edge work, shall be protected from falling by a guardrail system, safety net system, or personal fall arrest system. Before being allowed to work from an elevated work platform, you have had to have training on fall protection. These types of tasks are often the focus of daily, weekly, or monthly safety topics.

Ground- and Same-Level Surfaces

Slips, trips, and falls seem to be overlooked the most while working on ground level or same level. We think that since we have walked the job site several times throughout the day, we know every excavation, hole, change in grade, step or stair, and trip hazard. Keep in mind that active construction sites are constantly changing. These changes include work progressing in an area; poor or no visual markers for trip and fall hazards; not paying attention to where we are walking; poor housekeeping; and environmental conditions, such as dew, rain, sleet, snow, and ice. Here is how you can stay vigilant on the ground:

  1. Inspect your work throughout the workday. Keeping a clean work area and addressing housekeeping can greatly reduce the slip and trip hazards on a jobsite.
  2. When working in wet, muddy, or winter conditions, choose appropriate footwear with proper treads for the environment. Over-the-boot cleats are also helpful when having to access icy work areas, even just to shovel snow, remove ice, or salt the area.
  3. Stay on cleared sidewalks and paths whenever possible. Plan your route so that you are aware of exactly where you are going and the conditions of the walking/working surfaces.

How APTIM Addresses Slips, Trips, and Falls

APTIM address slips, trips, and falls by continuing to stay vigilant with promoting safety, creating a safety-conscious environment throughout the company, and continually coaching crews. Buy-in from management and executives filters down though the project team, from the trades performing the work to the laborers conducting housekeeping on site.

By completing activity hazard analyses and job safety analyses and communicating the hazards on our sites to APTIM teammates and subcontractors across multiple projects, we are able to learn from one another. Biweekly safety bulletins have been a great tool used throughout the company to share learning experiences with others. APTIM also offers invaluable training materials for both teammates new to the industry or company and those around for years who want to refresh themselves with OSHA regulations, APTIM policies/procedures, and best practices.

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