Slips Trips and Falls
Can I afford to pay the price resulting from slip and trip hazards in the workplace?
Hospitalisation, time off work, broken bones and insurance claims – just some of the results of what may appear to be low–risk slips and trips in the workplace. However with annual costs to employers running to hundreds of millions of pounds, its time for some serious soul-searching as to whether you are doing enough to mitigate and control the risk.
The startling facts are that every hour someone in Britain breaks a bone at work and each year an average of two people die from slips at work. Causes vary from unsuitable footwear to slippery surfaces, poor lighting and lack of concentration. There are many reasons why people slip trip and fall at work and sometimes apparently innocuous, mild injuries can have chronic consequences in the longer term.
The good news is that there are some simple things that can be done to reduce risks. Poor housekeeping and floors in poor condition are responsible for most trip injuries at work. So keeping main walkways free from obstructions, general debris and misplaced items and making sure that floors are kept in good condition with no holes or unevenness are immediate and simple solutions – so simple that in many instances they are commonly overlooked.
Nearly all slips happen when floors are wet or dirty (for example contaminated with water, oil, food debris, dust etc). If the floor has a smooth surface such as standard vinyl, glazed ceramic tiles, varnished wood and some metal floors, even a very small amount of contamination can present a real problem.
All work equipment and personal possessions should be stored correctly, rather than being left on the floor. Walkways and thoroughfares should be clearly identified. Use a system for damage reporting and repair and encourage a culture (that is fully supported by senior management) whereby staff can challenge bad housekeeping practise with impunity. Ensure that any slopes or changes in level are clearly visible and use colour-coded safety signs to convey clear warnings where necessary.
It is a legal requirement that employers control the risks of slips, trips and falls in the workplace, but all employees have a reciprocal duty of care to assist in the control and reduction of slip and trip hazards. With an effective management system in place and the co-operation of staff, you can.
- Plan: work with all staff to identify potential problem areas and set goals for improvement.
- Train: Provide staff with the knowledge and authority to identify and take action over potential risks.
- Organise: make employees, including cleaning and contract staff, responsible for specific areas and ensure that line management view safety as an integral part of their job role and description.
- Control: make sure practises and processes are being carried out properly, keep a record of all cleaning and maintenance work.
- Monitor and review: talk to your employees so they can feed back on how measures are working.