Workplace Slips, Trips, and Falls
In California, as in much of the country, slip, trip and fall accidents are the second-most common causes of workplace injuries and fatalities, right behind vehicle accidents on the job. This, despite the fact that safety standards, developed, implemented and enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) directly address such problems as walkways and working surfaces for most industries, including those most prominent in California, like construction worksites, shipyards and marine terminals.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2018 there were 5,250 worker fatalities nationwide, which amounts to a staggering 3.5 deaths per 100,000 full-time workers. The largest single cause of those accidents were slips, trips and falls. The numbers were so staggering that OSHA has been conducting a two-year campaign to address fall safety and tightened the rules for fall protection. In recent years, California workplaces have become somewhat safer, but the numbers still aren’t great. The construction industry in particular is prone to slips, trips and fall accidents, which accounted for 33.5% of total construction deaths in 2018.
People often slip and fall at work when they lose traction on floors that are slippery due to a variety of possible conditions, including spilled liquids or other substances, or after being freshly waxed. Other potential conditions that lead to slips, trips or falls include unstable or uneven walking surfaces, such as a floor with irregular tiles or carpeting that is uneven or coming up at an edge or a corner. Sometimes, they happen because cables and cords run across the floor or because of debris and clutter on the floor. Regardless of the cause, such slips, trips and falls can lead to serious injuries.
The purpose of OSHA regulations and established industry standards and best practices is to ensure that workplaces are safe and floor and walkway maintenance procedures are no exception. Employers can prevent the vast majority of slips, trips and falls by establishing, implementing and enforcing procedures and standards designed to keep the workplace clear and free of hazards. In addition to good housekeeping practices and regular inspection and maintenance practices, it is also essential to implement proper lighting throughout the workplace, so that workers can easily see and avoid any potential walkway hazards. In addition, as much floor area as possible should have skid-resistant surfaces, and all sloping walkways, like ramps, should be equipped with handrails.
When someone is injured in a slip, trip and fall accident at work, the employer may be legally liable if the employer or a co-worker can be shown to have directly caused the walkway or the floor surface to become unsafe, by spilling something or leaving objects in the walkway. They may also be held liable if they knew or should have known about the dangerous walkway and failed to alleviate the hazard. These situations can be very complex, especially since there are a number of avenues to getting compensation for your injuries, including making workers’ compensation claims with the employer or filing personal injury lawsuits against other parties that may be responsible.
If you or someone you love have suffered a slip and fall in the workplace, please contact Curtis Legal Group today. We have the experience and background necessary to help you protect your rights and obtain the compensation you deserve for a workplace injury.