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Slips are the most common cause of avoidable injuries in Colorado workplaces, according to a report from Pinnacol Assurance released June 28.

A recent analysis of Pinnacol claims data from January 2017 through March 2021 showed that the vast majority of workers’ injuries were a result of slipping, accounting for nearly 40 percent of all claims.

Pinnacol noted that these accidents also account for a considerable amount of reported pain and suffering, and sometimes even death.

These accidents are also a frequent precursor to long-term disability claims. The National Safety Council reports that falls are the third-leading cause of unintentional death in the U.S. 

“Slipping and tripping may seem like no big deal, but falling down at work can have serious, life-altering consequences for some workers,” said Cora Gaines, Pinnacol safety consultant. “At a minimum, these accidents can affect their ability to work, and have a negative impact on their personal life as well.”

There are many easy, low-cost solutions that workers and employers can use to prevent these accidents, such as keeping aisles clear from clutter, adding a rug to a slippery floor and asking workers to clean up any spills immediately, Gaines said. 

The most common causes of tripping include clutter on the floor, poor lighting, uneven walking surfaces, and sudden or unexpected changes in friction or contact between feet and the walking surface. 

Pinnacol reported the top 10 risk areas in Colorado businesses are: 

  1. Slips 
  2. Steps/stairs 
  3. Clients or patients (often moving/turning healthcare patients) 
  4. Lifting 
  5. Trucks/vehicles (driving or interacting with. Motor vehicle accidents are the largest driver of work-related fatalities in Colorado.) 
  6. Moving (often twisting or turning the body while moving items)
  7. Tripping 
  8. Working with metals 
  9. Ladders (most severe) 
  10. Cleaning (as an ancillary task) 

Working with metals puts workers at greater risk across all industries. So does cleaning when it isn’t the primary duty of the job (e.g., janitorial, house cleaning), with a remarkable diversity of industries affected, circumstances involved and harm caused.

Slipping and falling while cleaning is common, as are chemical exposures and interactions due to improper handling.

Pinnacol advises employers to ensure workers are trained properly when being asked to clean as part of their jobs and be given appropriate equipment, such as gloves, when necessary.

Pinnacol’s data also showed ladder-related accidents tended to be the most severe and tended to result in Occupational Safety and Health Administration violations. 

Pinnacol suggests a three-pronged approach to trip/slip avoidance

1.     Employee training and education

2.     Proper housekeeping standards, including those connected to weather-related hazards like snow and ice

3.     Wearing appropriate footwear.

Pinnacol, Colorado’s largest and longest-operating workers’ comp carrier, is using National Safety Month (every June) to raise awareness among workers and employers about the most common drivers of often avoidable workplace injuries.