By Bill Tricarico
Senior Risk Management Consultant
McNeil & Company, Inc.
When someone falls on TV or in the movies it generally provokes laughter, but if someone falls on your organization’s premises it is not a laughing matter. If it is a resident stopping in or a pedestrian just passing by it could mean a lawsuit along with a ton of bad publicity. If it is a member it means a potential workers’ compensation claim along with the hidden costs such as loss of productivity.
Every year slips trips and falls cost all types of organizations millions of dollars. The National Safety Council estimates that these types of injuries account for nearly 8.6 million visits to the emergency room. In addition, the US Department of Labor indicates that slips trips and falls are the second leading cause of worker injuries after vehicle accidents and that 17% of all disabling worker injuries are as a result of falls. The real shame is that most of these incidents could have been prevented.
Spills should be cleaned up quickly, wet surfaces should be so noted, stairs should be in good condition, free from obstacles with adequate handrails, objects such as electric cords should be removed from floors, changes in grade clearly marked, keep floors clean, have good lighting, and keep desk and file cabinet drawers closed when not in use.
Apparatus areas present their own issues with the potential of oil or grease as well as soap from washing the vehicles.
Don’t stop inside your building. Slips and falls by pedestrians account for many legal actions against emergency service organizations. Keep sidewalks in good condition, free from cracks and uneven surfaces. Clear snow, ice, and fallen leaves as quickly as possible and prevent potential problem areas by making certain that water drains away from sidewalks. Parking lots also need similar attention.
Since all of these variables can change, it is always a good idea to do regular inspections. Develop a check list and assign someone to be certain all areas are free of hazards. Keeping a file of these check lists could have a positive effect in the event your organization is sued. Video cameras will also reduce the opportunity of fraud.
Falls are funny on “You Tube”, but the damage they can do to your organization can be devastating and prevention is the key.