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Watch your step

Avoid slips, trips and falls this winter

February is often the worst winter month in Kentucky for ice, cold and snow, which increase injuries due to slips, trips and falls.

Surprisingly, these types of accidents not only result in moderate to severe injuries, but also cause numerous deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Tony Dempsey, safety and loss prevention instructor for Kentucky Electric Cooperatives, says, “While our safety team’s job is to train lineworkers at the 26 electric cooperatives across the state on how to stay safe on the job, this same information applies to our 1.5 million electric co-op consumer-members.”

He adds, “National data shows that 19,565 people die in the U.S. annually due to workplace injuries caused by unintentional falls, but there are over 30,000 deaths from unintentional falls for ages 65 and older. That’s significant, and many of those accidents are preventable.”

The National Safety Council lists accidental injury as the third leading cause of death, based on its Injury Facts publication, issued since 1903. Its most recent online data from 2017 lists falls as the leading cause of preventable injury-related deaths reported by 23 states.

Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration lists slips, trips and falls as the cause of 15% of all accidental deaths. This accounts for 12% to 15% of all workers’ compensation expenses, costing employers approximately $40,000 per incident, with workers off an average of 11 days.

How to prevent slips, trips, falls

“During winter, avoid going out during periods of significant cold, ice and snow,” says Dempsey.” Use salt to melt ice or spread other abrasive material, such as sand, cat litter or sawdust for traction. Accidents like this can happen anywhere and to people of all ages.”

Dempsey advises, ”To avoid slips, wipe your feet when coming in from rain or snow. Pay extra attention to highly slippery surfaces. If you are in a place of business and cause or witness a spill, caution others from crossing the spill. If it is a non-toxic substance, try to clean up the spill yourself, then report the spill to a store manager or employee.”

To avoid trips, Dempsey says, “Walk, don’t run. Be alert. Pick up any object you see on the floor and remove extension cords away from pathways.”

To avoid falls, keep work areas and walkways well lit. “Wearing good nonskid shoes is an excellent way to avoid falls,” Dempsey says. “And when you go up or down stairs, be sure to use the rails.”

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