In the best of circumstances, anyone can slip, trip or fall. As owners and operators, you must keep your garages and structures as safe as possible. Below are some steps you can take to prevent these types of injuries from occurring on your properties.
The National Safety Council (NSC) notes that slips and falls are the most common reasons for an emergency room visit. The most frequent types of injuries are those to the back, shoulder, elbow, wrist and knee. In general, joint injuries tend to be most common.
Per the U.S. Department of Labor, an average slip and fall injury costs about $28,000, which in turn puts financial strain on individuals as well as companies where such an injury occurs. Slips and falls are the third-largest cause of workplace injuries. Within North America, they lead to about 104 million lost workdays each year, and in turn, end up costing approximately $36 billion annually.
The two primary regulatory standards that apply to slips, trips and falls are OSHA 29 CFR 1910.22 Walking-Working Surfaces and ANSI’s A1264.2-2006 Provision for the Slip Resistance on Walking/Working Surfaces.
The causes of slips, trips and falls vary considerably and can include one or more of the following:
• Walkway surface substances and spills (e.g., oil, water or other liquid surface contamination).
• Lack of training and/or knowledge about slips, trips and falls.
• Mats or rugs that become unanchored or loose.
• Weather-related conditions such as rain, snow and ice.
• Use of inappropriate footwear.
• Walkway surfaces that are in disrepair.
• Sheen or smooth walkway surfaces that do not allow for adequate footwear-traction.
Believe it or not, about 70% of slips, trips and falls occur on level walking surfaces. Training employees on awareness of slip, trip, and fall hazards and methods to prevent them is essential to reducing the likelihood of becoming a statistic.
Once they are trained and made aware, common sense also plays an important role in preventing slips, trips and falls.
OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) offers some very good floor-safety recommendations, including:
• Keep floor surfaces clean and dry.
• Provide and maintain adequate drainage.
• Make sure wet-floor warning signs are posted.
• Maintain clear aisles and passageways, and prevent obstructions in them.
• Make sure walkway surfaces are in good repair.
• Provide floor plugs for equipment to ensure that power cords are not run across walk areas.
• Report and clean up spills immediately.
• Provide non-slip coatings or surfaces in slippery locations.
• Minimize carpet and matting trip hazards.
• Provide adequate lighting in areas such as halls and stairwells.
Safe Luggage Handling
Valet attendants often are responsible not only for parking vehicles, but also for assisting customers with handling their luggage. Doing that, particularly when loading and unloading luggage from vehicles, carts and storage areas, often results in awkward back postures.
Employees may not feel pain or discomfort when in risky postures, but the potential for injury is still present. Provide them with guidelines, such as the following, to minimize the risk:
• Instruct employees to plan the lift.
• Think about the lift first, then do it
• Move feet to face the load. Do not twist the body.
• When lifting luggage from a car’s trunk, face the trunk.
• Get close to the load before lifting. For example, pull bags in the back of the trunk closer to you.
• Bend at the knees, not at the back.
Other Luggage-Handling Tips
• Lift heavy items using a dolly or ask for help.
• Use a cart to eliminate the need to carry luggage long distances.
• Push rather than pull carts.
• When pushing a cart, place hands just below shoulder level on the cart handle.
• Make sure carts are maintained properly. Tires should be fully inflated; and wheels should not be bent or misaligned, which will increase the amount of force required to push the cart.
• Wear substantial shoes with non-slip soles and enough cushioning to relieve the stress on the knees and back.
Kathy Phillips, CIC, CPP, is First Vice President of Alliant Insurance Services. She can be reached at

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Kathy Phillips
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