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State of Slip, Trip, and Fall on Same Level Literature Review

Release Date: March 25, 2016

Occupational slips, trips, and falls on the same level (STFL) result in substantial injuries worldwide. “The State of Science: Occupational slips, trips, and falls on the Same Level,” written by Wen-Ruey Chang, Sylvie Leclercq, Thurman Lockhart, and Roger Haslam, was published in the Journal of Ergonomics. This paper summarizes the state of science regarding STFL, outlining relevant aspects of epidemiology, biomechanics, psychophysics, tribology, organizational influences, and injury prevention.

The authors highlight the injury activity in the United States, in the United Kingdom, in France, and others to illustrate just how widespread the problem of STFL is regardless of location. For example, the European Commission presented an analysis of almost four million non-fatal injuries that occurred at work during 2005 and STFL was the largest category of injury (14.4%).

This review reaffirms that STFL remain a major cause of workplace injury and STFL prevention is a complex problem, requiring multi-disciplinary, multi-faceted approaches. Despite progress in recent decades in understanding the mechanisms involved in STFL, especially slipping, research leading to evidence-based prevention practices remains insufficient, given the scale of the problem. The authors conclude that there is a pressing need to develop better fall prevention strategies using systems’ approaches conceptualizing and addressing the factors involved in STFL, with considerations of the full range of factors and their interactions. In addition, field trials of various fall prevention strategies are urgently needed to assess the effectiveness of different intervention components and their interactions.

Work-related STFL on the same level are a major source of occupational injury. The causes are broadly understood, although more attention is needed from a system’s perspective. Research has shown preventative action to be effective, but further studies are required to understand which aspects are most beneficial. The article addresses a number of issues including studies addressing the effects of age, obesity, and occupational STFL. The authors explore explanations for gender differences in STFL incidence. They list reasons such as composition of the workforce for different occupations and corresponding variation in exposure to STFL risk. Another reason might relate to differences in stature and strength, with females operating at a greater percentage of their capacity for more strenuous tasks. Another physical attribute that appears to have an influence on STFL is body mass. The authors review a number of studies regarding body mass and STFL risk.

The authors also address prevention tips including a primary approach of eliminating STFL hazards at the source through the design of the work environment and work/activity systems. They recommend that flooring should be selected with appropriate slip resistance for the different conditions to which it will be subjected and that walkways and walking areas should be designed and constructed to avoid trip hazards. They also indicate that the provision of sufficient lighting is important to help the visibility of walking surfaces. It is also recommended that cleaning and maintaining pathways and walking surfaces be considered prior to installation.

Despite progress in recent decades in understanding the mechanisms involved in STFL, especially slipping, research leading to evidence-based prevention practices remains insufficient, given the scale of the problem. There is a pressing need to develop better fall prevention strategies using systems’ approaches conceptualizing and addressing the factors involved in STFL, with considerations of the full range of factors and their interactions. The authors also believe that there is a need for field trials of various fall prevention strategies to assess the effectiveness of different intervention components and their interactions.

The Journal of Ergonomics offers the article as a pre-print version available at http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00140139.2016.1157214.

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The information contained in this publication was obtained from sources believed to be reliable. ISO Services, Inc., its companies and employees make no guarantee of results and assume no liability in connection with either the information herein contained or the safety suggestions herein made. Moreover, it cannot be assumed that every acceptable safety procedure is contained herein or that abnormal or unusual circumstances may not warrant or require further or additional procedure.


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