How to Prevent Slip and Fall Accidents for the Aging Workforce
Millennials are quickly coming into the workforce, but the fact remains that almost a quarter of employed Americans are older than 65, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Our aging workforce’s experience and knowledge of their jobs are extremely important to have within a company, however workplace injuries often are more severe and take longer to heal when they do happen to this group of the workforce. On top of that, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health states that 75 percent of the aging workforce is also battling chronic health conditions that require some sort of management in order to allow them to perform their duties. With facts like slips and falls continually being the most common causes of work-related injuries and deaths according to OSHA, falls in adults ages 65 and older being the leading cause of head injuries and broken hips and falling once doubling your risk to fall again, it is extremely important to have fall prevention strategies in place to help make your workplace age-friendly.
Jessup’s has several easy to implement tips to help create a safer work environment for the aging workforce:
- Start by creating or updating your workplace slip and fall program. A fall prevention program can offer both employers and employees with the necessary training and tools to recognize, assess, and control potential slip, trip, or fall hazards. These fall prevention programs should include a clear company policy, slip and fall training programs (these should be used during onboarding and continually as reminders for employees) and a complete slip and fall workplace assessment.
- Don’t rush workers. We all know the temptation to rush through a job when it is near the end of a shift or because of pressure from a manager to meet a deadline. Unfortunately, this type of carelessness is a top reason that slip and fall accidents occur. Consider offering flexibility or give the aging-workforce a say with their schedule, work tasks and conditions, when possible to prevent being rushed. Another consideration would be to avoid assigning repetitive tasks or prolonged sedentary tasks and let employees work at their own pace to prevent rushing.
- Have the right slip and fall prevention products. Once you complete a slip and fall workplace assessment, you will easily be able to spot areas where you need to add non-slip adhesives, stair treads, signage or other prevention products. Some locations are more prone to slip and fall accidents than others, including:
Everywhere you go and all the research you do on fall prevention (and we do a lot of research on that topic here!), always points back to bathrooms being a huge culprit of slip and fall accidents. Make sure you review all your bathrooms and talk to your employees about how they feel the bathroom conditions are. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that over 235,000 people 15 years and older visit emergency rooms each year because of bathroom-related injuries, so it is well worth a bit of extra effort to invest in the right products to prevent bathroom slip and fall accidents. Considering that as we get older, we generally need to use the bathroom more often throughout the day, the aging-workforce will likely be visiting the bathroom during work hours.
- Consider applying a medium grade non-slip product around the sinks and toilets. A medium grade non-slip tape like Safety Track 3500 can withstand shoe traffic, is certified “High Traction” by the National Floor and Safety Institute (NFSI) and is also mop-friendly for easy cleaning.
- Take a second look at all your bath mats or rugs which can be worn or have curling edges that cause a tripping hazard, especially for the aging-workforce. Make sure to use a non-slip tape underneath all rugs and mats to prevent any shifting.
- Double check the bathroom conditions. Chipped tiles or peeling linoleum should be replaced and bathrooms should be regularly inspected for water spills. When cleaning, remember to use a slip resistant product so you aren’t undoing all your hard work.
No matter what age, stairs can easily be a slip and fall hazard. Stairs can include flights of stairs, or the couple stair steps into a forklift machine. Wherever you see stairs in your facility make sure you pay special attention to “slip and fall proof” them. Luckily the investment in products is generally very minimal and can make a huge impact on the reduced number of accidents. Easy tips and products to use to prevent stair slip and fall accidents include:
- Both carpeted and non-carpeted stairs should be considered. Add non-slip stair treads to both is a simple and easy way to prevent trips and falls.
- A product like Flex Track 4100 is not only easy to apply and remove if needed, but is available in both fine or medium grade. If your employees have bare feet it is also comfortable.
- Double check all railings are secured in place
- Provide “Watch your step” signage if a single step exists
By having the proper slip and fall prevention products you will greatly reduce your aging-workforces risk to have a slip and fall accidents. These products may vary depending on the job (construction vs office job for example, but common products used throughout businesses for slip and fall prevention include:
- Slip resistant shoes. By requiring the proper footwear for your employees, such as having closed toed rubber soled shoes, you will prevent a slip and fall accidents
- Handrails for any stair series greater than three
- Caution signs alerting of turns, drops, ramps, or random stairs
- Use grit tapes and grit treads around areas that see liquid (this could be oil, gas, water, etc) or require heavy duty resistance of your workers. This could include: ships, pool decks, or water parks.
- PVC tapes and treads that are rubberized and textured are a great choice for the restaurant industry, fitness centers or spas. These tapes and treads are strong enough to prevent slips with work shoes, but also comfortable for bare feet.
- Vinyl anti-slip products are a great option in nursing homes, doctors offices, and hotels
- Use mats and runners with caution. Although they provide slip resistance, make sure they are in good shape, not curling at the ends and that they aren’t able to shift on the floor to create a potential tripping hazard.
- Use de-icer, shovels and salt right away to prevent slips and falls outside in incremental weather.
Some final helpful and easy tips to prevent slip and fall accidents in the aging workforce include:
- Provide extra training for management on managing an aging workforce
- Offer ergonomically correct workstations for those who require or request them.
- Open the lines of communication and start a conversation with older workers to develop strategies to help avoid issues. Consider creating an anonymous reporting system to protect employees from being called out on reporting unsafe practices or offering tips.
A senior citizen’s quality of life can change instantly with a slip or fall so these prevention tips are so important to follow. By not doing so and having an older employee slip you could be potentially playing a role in their physical decline, depression, social isolation, and feelings of helplessness, according to the National Council for Aging. On top of that, these types of slip and fall accidents not only can injure your employees, but could potentially cost thousands of dollars in worker’s compensation and increased insurance premiums. By implementing the tips we have presented today and incorporating a slip and fall prevention program, the number of falls among the 65+ population can be substantially reduced. Ultimately, these types of fall prevention tips will not only benefit your aging workforce, but your entire workforce. Everyone can appreciate training, products and tips to make the workplace safer, which will also help to increase team morale and communications.