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California State University, Long BeachCalifornia State University, Long Beach
Spring 2017

EHS News

Avoiding Slips, Trips, Falls

 caution wet floor, saftey sign

Did You Know?

  • Slips and falls account for over 1 million emergency room visits annually
  • Fractures are the most serious consequences of falls and occur in 5%of all people who fall
  • Slips and falls represent the primary cause of lost days from work
  • Slips and falls are the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims and are the leading cause of
    occupational injury for people aged 55 years and older
  • Floors and flooring materials contribute directly to more than 2 million fall injuries each year
  • 85% of workers’ compensation claims are attributed to employees slipping on slick floors
  • Compensation & medical costs associated with employee slip/fall accidents is approximately $70
    billion annually
  • 22% of slip and fall incidents resulted in more than 31 days away from work
  • According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics [2009], the incidence rate of lost-workday injuries from slips, trips, and falls (STFs) on the same level in hospitals was 38.2 per 10,000 employees, which was 90% greater than the average rate for all other private industries combined (20.1 per 10,000 employees). STFs as a whole are the second most common cause of lost-workday injuries in hospitals.
  • Slips, trips, and falls result in 17% of all nonfatal workplace injuries—the highest frequency of injury of any single regulated activity

Top 10 Slip, Trip and Fall Hazards

  1. Contaminants on the floor
  2. Poor drainage
  3. Indoor walking surface irregularities
  4. Outdoor walking surface irregularities
  5. Weather Conditions
  6. Inadequate lighting
  7. Stairs and Handrails
  8. Stepstools and Ladders
  9. Trip hazards (clutter, loose cords, medical tubing)
  10. Improper use of floor mats

What Can You Do?

Safety is everyone's responsibility. Do your part!

  1. Report and/or clean up spills immediately; if a spill can’t be cleaned up right away, place “wet floor” warning signs for others
  2. Keep walkways and hallways free of debris, clutter and obstacles
  3. Practice good housekeeping- remove trip hazards from your work area
  4. Remove cables or cords that may pose a trip hazard
  5. Keep cabinet doors and desk drawers shut when not in use
  6. Make sure stairs are safe; use the handrail
  7. Be mindful when walking- watch where you’re going, and wear comfortable, properly fitted shoes
  8. Don’t carry loads that block your vision
  9. Report uneven floor surfaces immediately
  10. Report burnt-out light bulbs promptly

The “EHS News” is a quarterly newsletter published by Physical Planning/Facilities Management. Suggestions and comments are encouraged! Environmental, Health & Safety is staffed by:

Peer Gerber, Director Environmental, Health & Safety
Phone: (562) 985-8893

George Alfaro, Environmental Compliance Specialist
Phone: (562) 985-2378

Michael Kitahara, Occupational Safety & Environmental Specialist
Phone: (562) 985-1761

Dylan Wood, Hazardous Materials Technician
Phone: (562) 985-1761

Safety for Forklift Operations

Forklift Saftey, Man with hard hat looking at lift.

Forklifts are one of the most useful types of powered equipment that are operated on a daily basis, and within a wide variety of applications. Throughout the California State University system they can be seen in shipping & receiving, facility maintenance, furniture services, shops, agricultural & reserves, and academic departments. They can also be one of the most dangerous pieces of equipment when used improperly or by an inadequately trained operator.

According to OSHA statistics, there is an average of 260 forklift-related injuries every day in the United States. Additionally, every two weeks a person dies in a forklift-related incident. Twenty-five percent of these injury incidents are the direct result of inadequate operator training. The three most common of forklift injuries are: a) forklift overturn, b) workers struck by forklift, and c) falls from forklifts. Each one of these types of incidents involves some form of operator error such as speeding, turning too sharply, or using the forklift in a manner that is unsafe.

Federal and state training requirements and rules of operation for forklift operators are located in 29 CFR 1910.178(l) and CCR Title 8 Section 3668, Powered Industrial Truck Operator Training.

According to OSHA, operator performance scores increase by 61% after completing a comprehensive forklift operator safety training course.”

Each of these regulations clearly outline what subject areas operators need to receive training on, how frequently training is required, how training must be verified/documented, and what the requirements (skills/experience/certifications) are to be recognized as a forklift safety trainer. Initial training is required prior to operators being authorized to operate a forklift. Refresher training is required for all trained operators every three years. Both types of training require classroom instruction and a “hands-on” operator skills evaluation conducted by the trainer/evaluator. Additionally, operators must receive familiarization training prior to operating a new or different type of forklift than what they were initially trained on. How important is it for operators to receive thorough training and a “hands-on” skills evaluation? According to OSHA, operator performance scores increase by 61% after completing a comprehensive forklift operator safety training course.

There are other contributors to increased forklift operations safety. These include proper maintenance and inspections, safety warning devices, fuel/power types, and operational environment. Forklifts are required to be inspected at minimum on a daily basis prior to operation. These inspections must be documented in writing. Any deficiencies noted regarding steering, brakes, horn, seatbelt, tires, or fuel/power source must result in placing the lift immediately into non-operational status. The work unit supervisor should be notified, and a repair order should be initiated. Regularly scheduled maintenance is required and can only be conducted by a trained forklift mechanic. Contracting with a vendor to perform quarterly and annual forklift maintenance and inspections is highly recommended.

Safety warning devices such as automatic back-up alarms, rotating/flashing beacon lights, and horns help to alert pedestrians, vehicles, and other equipment operators that they are in an area where a potential hazard exists. Finally, when selecting or purchasing a forklift, it is very important to match the forklift to the task and operational environment. Smaller, battery-powered forklifts would not be good in a construction environment due to their smaller tires and limited lifting capacity. Similarly you would not want to use a rough-terrain forklift in a warehouse, due to its larger size and exhaust emissions.

As you can see, forklift operations and safety are a complex and challenging subject area that requires extensive planning, training and oversight. Hopefully this article will help you to understand and address these challenges on our campus.

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