Slips, Trips and So Much More
Slip and fall prevention is usually the main concern in wet and oily working environments. Slip and falls are responsible for 20 - 30% of the accidents which cause long-term interruption of work. Loss of productivity is often an unfortunate side effect with nearly 30% of same-level falls resulting in more than 21 workdays lost.
The four main causes of slips and trips accidents are:
• slippery/wet surfaces caused by water and other fluids;
• slippery surfaces caused by dry or dusty floor contamination, such as sawdust or other debris;
• obstructions, both temporary and permanent;
• uneven surfaces and changes of level, such as unmarked ramps.
However, data from the NIOSH* on reported workplace accidents also cited overexertion and repetitive work as a contributing factor to long-term absenteeism. In fact, this cause was almost double the number of reported incidents. Combined, these two factors are the largest cause of non-fatal injury and illness cases involving days away from work.
Floors can become dangerously slippery when they are wet or exposed to oil or grease. This is due to a condition where at the moment of shoe touchdown, a fluid or film is trapped under the shoe. This phenomenon is similar to an automobile hydroplaning.
In other words, the foot, as it descends, has no traction. An uncontrolled skid occurs. The person loses control and falls.
Wet sources of contamination include water, oils, grease, and soap from cleaning solutions.
This can be addressed by increasing traction on the floor through footwear and slip resistant matting.
Floors can also become slippery due to dry or dusty floor contamination, such as sawdust or other debris that accumulates on the surface.
Sand, bits of gravel and dirt are commonly called ‘boulder dust’ because they act as miniature ball bearings when caught between a hard floor surface and a smooth shoe sole. The shoe loses its traction due to the “ball bearing” effect. The foot “skids away“. The person loses control and falls.
Dry contamination includes dusts, powders, granules, and other small objects, such as metal nuts and bolts spilled on the floor. The accumulation of dry contamination can also attribute to slips.
This can be addressed through large drainage holes that drain or remove dry or wet debris to keep the surface clean and clear.
Standing on hard surfaces for long periods can lead to several problems. First, standing causes muscles to constrict, which reduces the blood flow. This makes muscles and joints hurt, and it causes blood to stagnate.
In addition, long-term standing causes pronation, or excessive flattening of the foot. While this can be simply tiring and a bit painful, it can also lead to plantar fasciitis and other serious foot conditions. Lower back pain is highest in workers who stand 4 hours or more per day.
As noted by James Kendrick in the April 1999 issue of 'Occupational Health & Safety', the cushioning effect of anti-fatigue matting allows continuous micro-movements of the feet, which minimizes blood pooling in the legs.
Prof. Dr. Redha Taiar (2011) at the University of Reims in France also noted imbalance as second cause of fatigue. In addition to overuse of the same muscles, when the system is out of balance, the muscles must work harder to search for balance and the quick reaction speed is maintained at the cost of energy (fatigue).
He emphasized that “without a mat there is a dysfunction in the balance of a person which can cause pathologies that are accelerated by a repetitive task and other constraining work”. Such unbalance is very harmful for the human body. The use of anti-fatigue mats enables correct balancing and a uniform distribution between the right and left leg. Prof. Taiar’s findings confirmed that pains are substantially reduced with the use of anti-fatigue mats compared to the initial situation without mats.
Notrax® Workplace Solutions for Wet Areas
Notrax® Floormatting has a dedicated line of anti-fatigue matting with extra traction and drainage characteristics specifically for dry, wet, greasy or oily areas with slippery floors.
Notrax® industrial matting is manufactured to withstand harsh industrial environments. In order to achieve this, our mat solutions are manufactured in specialized compounds to meet the distinct needs of various industrial or production environments.
This variation in compounds allows companies to select only their specialized product characteristics needed such as oil resistance, fire retardant matting for welding areas, and Grip Step®, an abrasive coating for extremely slippery areas, or a combination thereof. This keeps matting for general applications affordable while offering extremely specialized matting solutions. The compounds connect seamlessly for easy transitions. The Notrax® product stamps clearly mark each mat with the product number and compound characteristics making it easy to distinguish between the various compounds.
*Source: NIOSH is the federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations to prevent work-related injury, illness, and fatalities. Its mission is to generate new occupational safety and health knowledge and to transfer that knowledge into practice.