JANUARY 2016                                                             FRANÇAIS


As Northerners, we are accustomed to living with ice and snow, and more often than not, our days are shrouded in cold and darkness. Unfortunately, this familiarity with our cold and dark climate does not mean we slip, trip, or fall any less.

Although it has been statistically proven that risk is higher in the winter months, slips, trips, and falls don't just happen as a result of winter hazards such as ice or snow-covered sidewalks. They also occur, and remain a major cause of injury, in the workplace.

Here are some 2015 statistics to get you thinking:
  • In 2015, 1 in 5 claims were due to a slip, trip, or fall (20.7%).
  • On average, the WSCC received 1.92 slip, trip, and fall claims per day.
  • The most commonly injured body part from slips, trips, and falls? The knees.
  • October saw the most slip, trip, and fall injuries in 2015.
  • Over the last 5 years, the average slip, trip, and fall claim costs $5,785.95.
  • The WSCC paid out approximately $4,866,870 to 798 slip, trip, and fall claims in 2015.
Slips, trips, and falls are dangerous and costly, but you shouldn't let this keep you from going about your everyday business. It's important to know that slips, trips, and falls are preventable. By taking your time, paying attention to your surroundings, wearing the proper footwear, and maintaining good housekeeping practices both at work and at home, you can reduce your risk of injury from slips, trips, and falls.


A slip is a movement causing an individual to lose their balance and may lead to a fall. Slips occur when there is not enough friction between your feet and the surface you are walking on.

Any and all of the below can lead to slips:
  • Weather hazards (ice, rain, or snow);
  • Spills;
  • Inappropriate footwear, including shoes with worn soles;
  • Travelling/moving from a dry surface to a wet surface;
  • Wet, oily, or otherwise contaminated walkways;
  • Floor surfaces in disrepair; and
  • Loose or unanchored mats or rugs.
A trip is a stumble, most often due to an obstacle, and can happen when your foot or body hits something, causing you to lose your balance and potentially leading to a fall.

Trips can be caused by:
  • Cables or cords;
  • Snow or frozen ice ruts;
  • Uneven surfaces, stairs, walkways, or doorways;
  • Wrinkled carpets or mats;
  • Materials on the floor (wood, tubing, clothing, books, buckets, paper, tools); and
  • Open cabinet drawers.
A fall is defined by a sudden drop in position, resulting in an individual coming into contact with the ground or another surface. Falls can occur when an individual loses their balance at any height, and as seen above, are often caused by slips or trips. The height an individual falls from and the surface they land on can increase the severity of an injury.

Falls happen as a result of:
  • Stepping into an unmarked hole;
  • Inattention when coming down from equipment or a platform;
  • Using an unbalanced ladder or makeshift ladder extension; or
  • Overextended leaning while on a ladder or platform.

The good news is this: there are universal truths that can prevent slips, trips, and falls. We've narrowed it down to the big three for you:
  1. Take your time. No matter the situation, do not rush. Plan ahead whenever possible. A few minutes taken to plan ahead can save you days, weeks, or months in recovery time, and in time lost from work due to an injury.
  2. Pay attention. Too often, one momentary lapse in attention or a temporary distraction is all it takes. Make sure you are aware of your surroundings at all times, and have proper lighting: visibility is important. Ensure your view is not blocked when carrying items.
  3. Practice good housekeeping. A clean and clear workplace is a safe and productive workplace. Remove any obstacles and clutter from walkways, and close filing cabinets or storage drawers so trip hazards can be eliminated. Immediately clean all spills, and if you work in an environment with a wet or slippery surface, make sure your employer provides rubber floor mats to ensure traction.
In the workplace, it is everyone's responsibility to ensure and maintain a safe work environment. Both the employer and worker can take steps to reduce the risk of accidents. Just take a look at our handy checklists below.

The Employer's Checklist:
  • Do I have company policies in place regarding safe work practices that address slips, trips, and falls? Do I maintain and update these policies regularly?
  • Have I implemented a program to maintain a safe work environment, and a procedure for reporting hazards?
  • Do I provide my workers with proper and regular employee orientation and training?
  • Have I provided workers with safe operating procedures regarding certain tasks and machinery?
  • Have I provided workers with the necessary tools to keep slip, trip, and fall hazards at bay? This includes lightbulbs, ladders, mops, buckets, shovels, salt, rubber mats, and wet floor signage.
  • Have I assigned responsibilities for housekeeping where appropriate?
  • Do I conduct periodic inspections for slip, trip, and fall hazards?
  • Do I ensure safe surfaces in and around the work area? This will include repairing and maintaining light fixtures, keeping employee parking lots and walkways in good repair, and when snow and ice are present, removing those hazards and treating the affected areas.
  • In the event of an injury, do I have a procedure in place to investigate the incident and eliminate the cause?
  • Do I have a Return to Work program in place to ensure my employees have modified or alternative duties to consider?
The Worker's Checklist:
  • Wear the appropriate footwear for your job. Ensure your footwear fits properly, and the soles are in good condition - not worn out and no longer slip-resistant.
  • Wear ice cleats in slippery outdoor conditions.
  • Take breaks to stay alert. Fatigue will lead to inattention, and inattention will lead to accidents.
  • Vigilance and inspection: always check your worksite for potential hazards, and report any you see to your employer.
  • Take shorter strides and point your feet slightly outwards to improve balance.
  • Keep one hand free to balance or break a fall, and when using the stairs, maintain a three-point contact at all times.
  • Use your hands to provide three-point contact when getting in and out of vehicles, equipment or climbing ladders.
  • Wear a safety harness or personal protective equipment (PPE) when working above 1.2 metres without a guardrail.
  • Always use a ladder or step ladder to reach high shelves (never stand on a chair or box).
  • Use guardrails as warning devices for open sides and edges, and pylons to mark openings.
  • Put that cell phone away! Just as you should pocket your phone while crossing the street, so should you put away your cell phone when moving around the workplace.
Both employers and workers should follow these other housekeeping tips:
  • Prevent slipping hazards by painting smooth floors with sand set in the mixture.
  • When using floor mats, keep them from moving with pressure-sensitive adhesives.
  • Prevent tripping hazards by covering cables and cords that cross walkways, or marking potential tripping hazards with brightly-coloured tape.
  • Make sure ladders, platforms, or other equipment are in safe working condition. If you notice signs of disrepair as a worker, report these to your supervisor immediately.
  • If a spill cannot be cleaned up right away, cordon off the wet area and display wet floor signage until it is taken care of.
Slips, trips, and falls are preventable. Whether you are an employer or a worker, remember to do your part to ensure your workplace remains a safe environment for all. For more information, visit wscc.nt.ca or wscc.nu.ca for our Codes of Practice, Safety Bulletins, Hazard Alerts, and Posters.

We wish you all a safe start to 2016.


Employers, check out Safety Share, our new online safety forum. Ask each other questions, collaborate, and share your safety practice success stories and learnings. Start sharing here.


Welcome to Assessment Rates 101! In the WSCC's first video for YouTube, join our President and CEO Dave Grundy as he explains assessment rates and answers some frequently asked questions.

If you have any questions or feedback for us, send us an email at info@wscc.nt.ca or info@wscc.nu.ca.

This information will soon be available in Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun on our website.
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