Need to decrease slip-and-falls among employees at your company? You could measure the coefficient of friction (COF) on all flooring areas. Or, you could …
… just ask your employees.
New research from the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety and the Harvard School of Public Health shows there’s a strong link between workers’ perceptions of floor slipperiness and the actual number of slips.
Researchers measured the COF in eight areas in 36 restaurants. Each area received a COF, and the areas were averaged to calculate each restaurant’s mean COF.
Then 475 employees were asked to rate floor slipperiness on a four-point scale:
- 1 = not slippery
- 2 = a little slippery
- 3 = more slippery, and
- 4 = very slippery.
Researchers averaged the ratings for each of the eight areas in each establishment and an overall average for each restaurant.
Employees were also asked to report their slip experiences for 12 weeks. They reported their number of slips, the number of hours they had worked and the area of the restaurant where they slipped.
The result: For each increase of one point on the four-point scale there was a 2.71-times higher rate of actual slips. This held true both for individual areas and entire restaurants.
“The strong association between perception and actual slipping means that workers’ perceptions can be used to help identify and control slipping hazards,” said researcher Theodore Courtney, who adds that this approach can be used in smaller and larger companies.
And this doesn’t end with slip-and-falls. “This suggests that workers’ perception ratings should be considered in risk assessment and reduction strategies,” Courtney said.
For many safety pros out there, this won’t come as much of a surprise. They’ve known for some time that the best contributors toward hazard reduction are those employees who encounter the risks in their everyday work tasks.
Just the same, it’s nice to have the scientific confirmation that what you’ve suspected for years is actually true.
The research was published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine (Vol. 70, No. 11, 2013).
How have you engaged employees in hazard reduction strategies? Let us know in the comments below.