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Painful Costs of Slips, Trips and Falls

Julie Copeland

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According to the 2016 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, the most disabling, nonfatal workplace injuries amounted to nearly $62 billion in direct U.S. workers’ compensation costs. This translates into more than a billion dollars a week spent by businesses on these injuries.

Near the top of the list are, slips, trips and falls which the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), states were involved in most general industry incidents. Slips, trips and falls cause 15% of all accidental deaths, and are second only to motor vehicles as a cause of fatalities.

Slips, trips & falls can happen anywhere in your operation. These incidents can cause injury, disability or even death and the results can be extremely costly to employees and employers.

Liberty Mutual’s Workplace Safety Index reported that “fall from the same level” ($10.17 billion) and “fall to lower level” ($5.4 billion) were the second and third highest causes of disabling workplace injuries.  

Fall from the same level is defined as a fall to the same walking or working surface or fall into or against objects above the same surface. Fall to a lower level is a fall to a level below walking or working surface.


What are the leading causes of slips, trips and falls in the workplace?

  • Slips can occur when floors or other working surfaces become slippery due to wet or oily processes. This includes floor cleaning, leaks, or from materials and debris left in walkways.
  • Uneven floor or working surfaces can lead to trips. This may include protruding nails and boards, bunched floor mats or uneven carpeting, holes or depressions in working surfaces, and also step-risers on stairs that are not uniform in height.
  • Both slips and trips can result in falls, which can occur when ladders are not properly maintained, and when stairways and elevated working surfaces are not properly designed.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

  • 65% of fall-related injuries occur as a result of falls from same-level walking surfaces

  • The services, wholesale, and retail trade industries together accounted for over 60% of injuries that resulted from same level falls

  • The manufacturing sector alone accounted for 16 percent of injuries that resulted from same-level falls

  • Same-level falls are more common but elevated falls are often the most serious and cause more severe injuries

  • Over 60% of all elevated falls are from a height of less than 10 feet

  • Over one million Americans suffer a slip, trip, and fall injury every year

  • An estimated 20 – 30% of people who experience a slip and fall will suffer moderate to severe injuries such as bruises, hip fractures, or head injuries

  • The most common fractures that occur from slip and fall accidents are fractures of the spine, hip, forearm, leg, ankle, pelvis, upper arm, and hand

  • Slip and fall accidents are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and these account for 46% of fatal falls among older Americans

  • Slips, trips and fall accidents can also cause other complications including death, broken bones and fractures, long-term medical complications, head trauma and spinal cord injuries

  • 1 in 6 of all lost-time work injuries result from slips, trips and falls

  • Slips, trips and falls make up almost 20 percent of all job-related injuries

  • It is estimated that these injuries result in an average of 11 days away from work

  • Approximately 19,565 people die in the U.S. annually due to injuries caused by unintentional falls 

  • According to OSHA, slips, trips and falls cause 15% of all accidental deaths

  • Slips, trips and falls account for between 12 - 15% of all workers' compensation expenses

  • These injuries cost employers approximately $40,000 per incident

As outlined above, slips, trips and falls are costly to both employees and employers. However, you can take steps to prevent these incidents:

  • Design workplace and processes to prevent potential exposures to slip and trip hazards

  • Maintain clear, tidy work areas free of clutter and properly store all equipment

  • Establish safe walking practices and routes and ensure proper lighting and signage in your facility

  • Wear proper fitting footwear with good traction and additional safety features such as steel-toe if needed

  • Ensure employees have the proper fall protection equipment for their specific jobs

  • Offer a program that teaches employees to recognize the hazards of falling and trains each employee on the procedures to be followed

A good first step in preventing slips, trips and falls is to schedule a consultation with an Arbill Safety Expert who can assess your facility and check for any hazards that may exist. From there we can design a training program that can work for you and provide you with the proper fall protection equipment and other PPE your employees need.

Have a Safe Day!


Topics: workplace injury, workplace safety, preventing slips trips and falls, slips trips and falls, OSHA

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