Slips, trips and falls are chronic hazards in all industries in California, and despite all the focus on it in safety training and protective gear and devices, the number of incidents increases every year. This rise is also reflected in the number of workers' compensation benefits claims for lost work days. According to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, over 20,000 such injuries were reported in 2015.
Federal safety regulations require all walk and work surfaces that are elevated 4 feet or higher above another level to have edge protection. Cal/OSHA's regulations to prevent falls are significantly stricter, and the type of job, the trade and the height of the work area along with the dangers underneath all trigger the need to use fall protection. Instead of 4 feet, Cal/OSHA requires all elevated areas higher than 30 inches to be protected.
Along with the appropriate use of guardrails, personal fall arrest systems and safety nets, Cal/OSHA recommends additional strategies to be included in safety protocols. These include keeping work areas uncluttered and unobstructed, and floor surfaces clean and free of splashed or spilled liquids, grease, food, oil, soap, sawdust or any other forms of debris. Furthermore, employees should be encouraged to wear low-heeled, closed-toe shoes with nonslip soles.
Despite all the precautions, falls will continue to follow slips or trips, and victims of such workplace accidents might have to face high medical bills and lost wages. Fortunately, the California workers' compensation insurance program endeavors to provide financial assistance in the form of benefits to cover those costs. Resources are available to assist injured workers with the legal and administrative steps of the claims process.