Slips, Trips and Falls

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Occupational and non-occupational slips, trips and falls are the leading cause of emergency room visits, hospitalization and death in Canada.

Nationally, over 42,000 workers are injured each year due to falls and account for 18 per cent of all lost-time claims accepted by workers' compensation boards across Canada (Association of Workers' Compensation Boards of Canada, 2016). In Newfoundland and Labrador, falls account for over 16 per cent of lost-time injuries and over $234.8 million dollars in compensation benefits in the last ten years.

To prevent slips, trips and falls, it is important to understand how they happen, to identify the hazards, and then to eliminate or minimize these hazards.

Slips occur when there is a loss of footing due to incomplete contact between the foot and the ground, or from loss of traction between the foot and the walking surface. Slip hazards can include spills, slippery surfaces, unsecured mats, and footwear with insufficient traction.

Trips occur when walking is interrupted by an obstruction or an accidental error in stride. Common trip hazards include poor lighting, changes in walkway levels and slopes, obstructed view, and obstacles in walkways.

Falls occur when a loss of balance, such as from a slip or trip, results in the body impacting the ground or floor. There are two major types of falls – falls to same level and falls from height.

Injury, illness and death from slips, trips and falls can be prevented by eliminating or reducing hazards, such as: good housekeeping, well-maintained walking surfaces, wearing proper footwear, and appropriate pace of walking. Additional control measures include:

  • Incorporating slip, trip and fall hazards into the hazard assessment process;
  • Monitoring controls during workplace inspections;
  • Implementing a spill response program;
  • Selecting and designing flooring for slip resistance, adequate drainage and to minimize trip hazards;
  • Performing regular floor and stair maintenance (including rails);
  • Maintaining delineated and unobstructed aisles and passageways;
  • Securing floor coverings;
  • Installing barriers, covers or guardrails around changes in flooring elevation or openings;
  • Providing well-lit working areas and walkways;
  • Erecting signage;
  • Warning of temporary hazards;
  • Providing employee training;
  • Encouraging, requiring, or providing appropriate footwear for the work terrains and surfaces and for the type of work;
  • Designing work flow and work spaces such that there is little or no requirement to carry large loads (could obstruct the view) or to work in a very small area with obstructions for ease of movement; and
  • Performing workplace inspections which include identifying possible slip, trip and fall hazards, paying particular attention to electrical cords and the trip hazards they create.

Employer Responsibilities

Employers must:

  • Make sure that all buildings, structures (both permanent and temporary), excavation, machinery, workstations, places of employment and equipment are capable of withstanding the stresses likely to be imposed upon them and of safely performing the functions for which they are used or intended.
  • Make sure the workplace is sanitary and kept clean by:
    • Daily removal of accumulated dirt and refuse from floors, working surfaces, stairways, and passageways, using suitable methods; and
    • Weekly floor cleaning by washing, vacuuming, or other suitable methods.
  • Make sure all interior walls, partitions, ceilings, passages, staircases, floors, platforms, stairs, and walkways are suitably finished, maintained, and kept free of hazards.
  • Install floor drains or another suitable means to eliminate liquid spills from normal work. Maintain drainage and make sure that the workstations and other places where workers stand to do work are provided with a means to stay dry (e.g., false floors, platforms, mats) and that these are kept clean.
  • Clean spills with approved non-combustible grease and oil absorbent. Make sure hazardous substances such as solvents, oils, greases, paints or other flammable substances are cleaned up and put in a covered metal container before disposal.
  • Provide appropriate lighting (artificial or natural) as required by the ANSI Illuminating Engineering Society.
  • Make sure workers wear appropriate and properly fitted protective footwear, including toe protection, metatarsal protection, puncture resistant soles, or electric shock protection, if required. When selecting foot protection consider the following:
    • Slipping;
    • Uneven terrain;
    • Abrasion;
    • Ankle protection;
    • Foot support;
    • Crushing potential;
    • Temperature extremes;
    • Corrosive substances;
    • Puncture hazards;
    • Electrical shock; and
    • Other recognizable hazards
  • If required to have toe protection, metatarsal protection, puncture resistant soles, electric shock protection, make sure the footwear worn meets the requirements of CSA Standard CAN/CSA -Z195 Protective footwear.
  • Take reasonable efforts to make sure that a workplace or work area is not so overcrowded as to cause risk to the health or safety of a worker.

Worker Responsibilities

Workers must:

  • Take reasonable care to protect his or her health and safety and that of workers and persons at or near the workplace.
  • Properly wear or use personal protective equipment (PPE), safeguards and safety devices provided for their protection in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and training provided by the employer.
  • Remove any slip, trip or fall hazard immediately wherever possible, and immediately report concerns and hazards to the supervisor or employer.
  • Follow safe work practices and procedures.
  • Participate in training and hazard assessments, where it is offered.
  • Not use equipment or perform work tasks where the required training has not yet taken place.

Related topics

ANSI

ANSI is the American National Standards Institute.
Standards may be purchased from the ANSI store: https://webstore.ansi.org/

Metatarsal protection

Metatarsal protection consists of a guard that protects the top of the foot from crushing injuries.

CSA

CSA is the Canadian Standards Association Group. Certain CSA standards are available for online viewing.
To access these, you must first create an account with "CSA Communities".
Go to: https://community.csagroup.org/login.jspa?referer=%252Findex.jspa
Once you are logged in, click on the text below the "OHS Standards / View Access" graphic.
Click on the jurisdiction of your choice to see the CSA Standards as referenced in that legislation.
Standards may also be purchased from CSA Group: https://store.csagroup.org/

Personal protective equipment

Any equipment or device which protects a worker's body from injury, illness or death. PPE acts as a barrier to protect the worker from the hazard.
PPE should only be used:
  • Where other controls are not available or adequate.
  • As a short-term measure before controls are implemented.
  • During activities such as maintenance, clean up, and repair where other controls are not feasible or effective.
  • During emergency situations.

OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY ACT
R.S.N.L. 1990, c. O-3

Section 6 Workers' general duty

6. A worker, while at work, shall take reasonable care to protect his or her own health and safety and that of workers and other persons at or near the workplace.

Section 7 Specific duties of workers

7. A worker

(a) shall co-operate with his or her employer and with other workers in the workplace to protect

(i) his or her own health and safety,

(ii) the health and safety of other workers engaged in the work of the employer,

(iii) the health and safety of other workers or persons not engaged in the work of the employer but present at or near the workplace;

(a.1) shall use devices and equipment provided for his or her protection in accordance with the instructions for use and training provided with respect to the devices and equipment;

(b) shall consult and co-operate with the occupational health and safety committee, the worker health and safety representative or the workplace health and safety designate at the workplace; and

(c) shall co-operate with a person exercising a duty imposed by this Act or regulations.

[S.N.L. 1999, c. 28, s. 3; 2001, c. 10, s. 26; 2004, c. 52, s. 2]

Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, 2012
N.L.R. 5/12

Part III GENERAL DUTIES

Section 14 General duties of employers

14. (1) An employer shall ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that all buildings, structures, whether permanent or temporary, excavation, machinery, workstations, places of employment and equipment are capable of withstanding the stresses likely to be imposed upon them and of safely performing the functions for which they are used or intended.

(2) An employer shall ensure that necessary protective clothing and devices are used for the health and safety of his or her workers.

(3) The employer shall ensure that safe work procedures are followed at all workplaces.

(4) An employer shall ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that work procedures promote the safe interaction of workers and their work environment to minimize the potential for injury.

Section 17 General duties of workers

17. (1) A worker shall make proper use of all necessary safeguards, protective clothing, safety devices, lifting devices or aids, and appliances

(a) designated and provided for his or her protection by the employer; or

(b) required under these regulations to be used or worn by a worker.

(2) A worker shall follow the safe work procedure in which he or she has been instructed.

(3) A worker shall immediately report a hazardous work condition that may come to his or her attention to the employer or supervisor.

Part V GENERAL HEALTH AND SAFETY REQUIREMENTS

Section 33 Overcrowding

33. An employer shall, to the extent reasonably practical, ensure that a workplace or an area in that workplace is not so overcrowded as to cause risk of injury to the health or safety of a worker.

Section 34 Slipping hazards

34. (1) Where the regular work process results in liquid spilling on to the floor or work areas, and where this spillage could introduce a slipping or other hazard, floor drains shall be installed or other suitable means used or adopted to eliminate this hazard.

(2) Only an approved non-combustible grease and oil absorbent shall be used to eliminate a hazard referred to in subsection (1).

(3) Where wet processes are used, an employer or contractor shall ensure that reasonable drainage is maintained and that false floors, platforms, mats or other dry standing places are provided and kept clean.

Section 36 Illumination

36. (1) An employer shall provide sufficient and suitable lighting, whether natural or artificial, in every part of a workplace while a worker is present and the illumination shall comply with the standards set by the American National Standards Institute - Illuminating Engineering Society, or other standards acceptable to the minister.

(2) An artificial light source or reflective surface shall be positioned, screened or provided with a shade to prevent glare or discomfort or the formation of shadows that cause eyestrain or a risk of accident or injury to workers.

(3) Where the visibility in a work area is restricted due to the presence of smoke, steam or other substances in the atmosphere, and where this condition may result in injury to workers, corrective measures shall be taken to eliminate, control or reduce the hazard.

(4) Handling, storage and disposal of fluorescent bulbs shall be in accordance to manufacturers' instructions.

(5) Fluorescent bulbs shall be stored in suitable containers.

(6) Where fluorescent bulbs are disposed of by crushing or compacting, it shall be done in an area adequately ventilated to protect the health and safety of the worker and the worker shall be provided with and use appropriate protective equipment.

Part VI OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH REQUIREMENTS

Section 42 Hazardous substances

42. (1) An employer shall monitor the use or presence of substances at the workplace that may be hazardous to the health and safety of workers.

(2) In accordance with subsection (1), an employer shall implement a chemical and biological control program commensurate with the associated risks.

(3) In accordance with subsection (1), an employer shall eliminate hazardous substances from the workplace and where this is not practicable substitute a less hazardous substance.

(4) Where hazardous substances exist, an employer shall employ engineering and administrative controls to ensure their safe use.

(5) An employer shall ensure that a substance produced, used or handled at a workplace which by reason of toxicity, flammability or reactivity creates a risk to the health or safety of workers is controlled in accordance with the Safety Data Sheet or manufacturer's specifications.

(6) Where the minister determines that the use or presence of a hazardous substance at a place of employment may be injurious to the health of workers, the minister may inquire into the substance and may prohibit, restrict or modify the use of the substance until a time that an employer establishes to the minister that its use or presence is not injurious to the health of workers.

(7) An employer shall ensure that

(a) atmospheric contamination of the workplace by hazardous substances is kept as low as is reasonably practicable;

(b) a worker is informed of the nature and degree of health effects of the hazardous substances to which the worker is exposed;

(c) exposure of a worker to hazardous substances is as minimal as is reasonably practicable, and where a threshold limit value has been established by the ACGIH, exposure shall not exceed the threshold limit value;

(d) except as otherwise determined by the division, a worker is not exposed to a substance that exceeds the ceiling limit, short-term exposure limit or 8-hour TWA (time weighted average) limit prescribed by ACGIH; and

(e) where a substance referred to in paragraph (d) has an 8-hour TWA limit, a worker's exposure to the substance does not exceed

(i) 3 times the 8-hour TWA limit for more than a total of 30 minutes during the work period, and

(ii) 5 times the 8-hour TWA limit.

(8) Where extended work periods exist where the work period is more than 8 hours in a 24 hour day, the 8 hour exposure shall be adjusted accordingly as outlined in the ACGIH "Threshold Limit Values (TLVs)" Manual.

(9) Adjustment of TLVs, as required, shall be done in consultation with the occupational health and safety committee, the worker health and safety representative or the workplace health and safety designate, as appropriate.

(10) Where a worker is exposed to a substance which is designated as a reproductive toxin or a sensitizer, an employer shall develop policy and procedures appropriate to the risk, which may include protective reassignment.

(11) Where workers may be exposed to contact with chemicals harmful to the skin, facilities shall be available for the worker to effectively cleanse the contaminated body areas, including, where corrosive chemicals are involved, emergency water baths, showers, jump tanks, eyewash facilities or other effective means of treatment.

(12) The policy and procedures required by subsection (10) shall include

(a) informing workers about the reproductive toxin and identifying ways to minimize exposure to the toxin for a worker who has advised the employer of pregnancy or intent to conceive a child; and

(b) identifying ways to eliminate exposure to a sensitizer for a worker who is or may become sensitized to that substance.

(13) Solvents, oils, greases, paints or other flammable substances shall be cleaned up by using an approved non-combustible grease and oil absorbent which shall be placed in covered metal containers before disposal.

(14) Containers referred to in subsection (13) shall not be stored in work areas.

[S.N.L. 2019, c. 8, s. 20]

Section 67 Sanitary and orderly conditions

67. An employer shall ensure that the workplace is sanitary and kept as clean as is reasonably practicable and that

(a) accumulated dirt and refuse is removed daily by a suitable method from floors, working surfaces, stairways and passages;

(b) floors are cleaned at least once a week by washing, vacuum cleaning or other effective and suitable means;

(c) interior walls and partitions, ceilings, passages and staircases are kept in a reasonable state of repair and suitably finished and maintained; and

(d) floors, platforms, stairs and walkways used by workers are kept in a state of good repair and free of hazards.

Part VII PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT

Section 80 Foot protection

80. (1) A worker's footwear shall be of a design, construction, and material appropriate to the protection required.

(2) To determine the appropriate protection under subsection (1) the following factors shall be considered:

(a) slipping;

(b) uneven terrain;

(c) abrasion;

(d) ankle protection;

(e) foot support;

(f) crushing potential;

(g) temperature extremes;

(h) corrosive substances;

(i) puncture hazards;

(j) electrical shock; and

(k) another recognizable hazard.

(3) Where a determination has been made that safety protective footwear is required to have toe protection, metatarsal protection, puncture resistant soles, dielectric protection or a combination of these, the footwear shall meet the requirements of CSA Standard CAN/CSA-Z195, Protective Footwear.