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Seemingly minor risks might be unrecognized workplace hazards

Regardless of the industry in which you work, there is sure to be slip, trip and fall risks. Also known as STF hazards, people often ignore them or regard them as insignificant. Who would think that stepping over a tool or an extension cord could cause a fall with traumatic consequences? Striking your head as you land can leave you with life-changing brain injuries.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health says most workers' compensation claims in Missouri and other states cite slip, trip and fall incidents. The typical resulting injuries include ligament and muscle tears, dislocations, sprains and strains.

Definition of STFs

  • Slip: Insufficient friction between the walking or working surface and the worker's footwear could cause the worker to lose balance and fall.
  • Trip: When a worker's leg or foot hits a stationary object, but the rest of the body continues in a forward motion, or when a foot catches on something while stepping down to reach a lower surface, the loss of balance can cause a fall.
  • Fall: Falls include those resulting from slips and trips, from heights and same-level falls.

Circumstances that cause STF accidents

Although the industry in which you work might have typical slip, trip and fall hazards, some STF hazards could be present in any workplace, from offices to construction sites. Learning to be alert and look out for the following risks might help you stay on your feet:

  • Walking surfaces outdoors: Irregularities, such as wide cracks and unexpected elevation changes can cause trips.
  • Weather conditions: Snow and ice on sidewalks and parking lots can cause serious injuries if left to accumulate. It can also cause indoor hazards if carried in on workers' footwear.
  • Irregular indoor walking surfaces: Damaged vinyl tiles and loose or frayed rugs and carpets might not be seen as a risk. Any cracks or ramp changes greater than half an inch can also cause trip-and-fall accidents.
  • Wet floors: Various contaminants on the floor can cause slips, and warning signs are crucial. Along with liquids unique to your workplace, general floor cleaning procedures can be dangerous if not dried properly.
  • Drainage problems: When drains and drain pipes are incorrectly aligned, downspouts that lead to pedestrian walkways will cause wet areas and pose slip hazards. Clogged drains need addressing immediately to prevent overflows.
  • Insufficient lighting: Walkways, storage rooms, parking structures and stairways with inadequate lighting are dangerous. Along with sufficient, working light fixtures, handrails and luminous tape on stair and elevation changes can help in areas without natural light.
  • Tripping hazards: Storage areas, walkways and work areas must be free of clutter, wires, tubing, hoses and loose cords, all of which could cause trips.
  • Ladders and stepstoolsAlways check that ladders or stepstools are in good order. Maintain the three contact points when you climb up or down a ladder.
  • Rugs, runners and floor mats: Mats in typically wet areas must have non-slip backing, and it is a good idea to secure loose rugs to prevent them from slipping. Report worn, frayed or ripped floor coverings for immediate removal and replacement.

Workers' compensation

If you are facing the consequences of a slip, trip or fall accident at your workplace, you will be eligible for workers' compensation benefits to cover all your medical expenses. Furthermore, if your injury caused temporary disability, you might receive a percentage of lost wages. An experienced Missouri workers' compensation attorney can provide support and guidance throughout the benefits claims process.

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