Risk Management Focus


Slips/Trips/Falls

The Florida School Boards Insurance Trust safety staff have reviewed claims data from the past five years and identified the most common causes for injury with the Trust. The overall winner in both terms of frequency and severity is Fall/Slip, accounting for 32% of all claims. FSBIT Safety will work with districts to establish clear safety goals and to bring these loss numbers down so the next five years look brighter!

There are two basic causes of slip/trips/falls; the environment and the person. Let’s talk about the environment. Falls from same level can be caused by wet surfaces, unrepaired rugs, an object in a walking area, poor lighting just to name a few. Many environmental causes of falls from same level can be corrected before they cause a fall. First, in a good safety culture, if someone sees a condition that can cause a fall it is noted right away and corrected. In a poor safety culture, when an unsafe condition is noticed it is ignored and the person thinks, “I didn’t fall, let someone else take care of that”. If you put a $20 bill in the middle of the floor, how many people would just walk passed it? Not many I would wager. In a good safety culture, employees would realize a tripping hazard is the same as a $20 bill, if it is not picked up, a fall of another employee can cause everyone money at a District.

The next way to get a handle environment issues to prevent same level falls is internal inspections. Real inspections with specific areas checked at specific times. Those items noted as hazards are corrected or protected immediately. I visited a District that preformed inspections but when I asked what they do with the hazards they found I got, “yeah, these are the same things I find every week.” When inspections are completed, the corrective actions also have to be tracked. If the same thing comes up every week, then find out why and see if that can be changed. A while back I reviewed an inspection form of a location and found the same tripping hazard every inspection. We changed a process so those items were no longer used in the area. We never had that falling hazard again in that area (also increased efficiency in that location).

Another way of removing or controlling environmental fall from same level hazards is to have a good accident investigation program in place. Doing an accident investigation and not finding the root cause of an accident is like not doing an accident investigation at all. If a conclusion of an accident investigation is, “the employee needs to be more careful”, you have not found to root cause of the accident. Also, if you have found the root cause of an accident and no one that can effect a corrective action sees the report, or no one tracks to see if the corrective actions have been made, again, there was no reason to do the accident investigation. And yes I have heard, “but we do not have the funds to make the repair”. Ok, understandable, but controls can always be put into place until those funds are available. Example, tape down that ripped rug until it can be replaced.

These are just three environmental improvements that can be made. In the upcoming months we will discuss other along with the exposure of the employee themselves. If you can’t wait, just contact me, Jackie Scott or Tracy Wade and we can come out and help you with your programs.

Scott Blaser at sblaser@fsbit.net