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Falling Down on the Job

Q. What commonplace incident is one of the top three causes of death in American workplaces?

A. Falls.

Yes, we’re serious. Falling is one of the leading causes of on-the-job death for American workers.

Falls on the same level (something like slipping and falling, or tripping and falling) cause far more injuries, but fewer deaths (only about 18 percent of all fatal falls in 2013 were on the same level). When workers fell from a higher level to a lower one, about a quarter of them fell 10 feet or less, and about a fifth fell more than 30 feet.

How do workers fall? Well, as many of us know, slips, trips, and falls can happen under almost any circumstances—particularly if people aren’t paying attention to their surroundings. But according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, falls in the workplace are most often connected with

  • Floor holes and wall openings
  • Slippery, cluttered, or unstable walking surfaces
  • Unsafely positioned ladders
  • Misused fall protection
  • Unprotected edges

Workers’ comp and medical costs connected with falls in the workplace have been estimated at about $70 billion in the United States annually—but of course, cost is only one of the negative considerations: no company wants to be responsible for the death of one of its employees.

Are your employees at risk for falls? Here are some tips to help manage that risk.

  1. Recommend that staff wear shoes that will have friction against slippery floors.
  2. Install railings to protect people when walking on stairways or on elevated surfaces.
  3. Place cones in areas where the floor is wet.
  4. Train staff in the proper use of fall protection systems and safe ladder use.
  5. Install signs to alert people to changes in floor elevation.

Beall Financial and Insurance Services has been working with business-owners for more than 25 years to help them protect their most important assets, and their companies’ future. If you have questions about insurance coverage for your business, contact us.


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