Over a third of all major injuries reported each year are caused as a result of a slip or trip (the single most common cause of injuries at work). These cost employers over £500 million a year in lost production and other costs. Slips and trips also account for over half of all reported injuries to members of the public.
During 2010/11 over 30,000 workers suffered a serious injury following a slip, trip or fall at their place of work. Statistics show that particular groups of workers are more likely to be involved, injured, or incapacitated in some way as a result of a slip tip or fall at work. Construction workers, electricians, gas fitters other trades people, and site managers, kitchen managers and chefs, food retail staff, area and store managers, food operatives and their shift managers feature prominently in the figures.
However slips, trips and falls accidents do happen in any workplace and the HSE urge anyone where slips, trips and falls are a risk to ensure that a good management system is in place that will help:
- Identify problem areas
- Check for a suitable walkways?
- Are they in the right place?
- Are they being used properly?
- Are they available for use at all times as required?
- What tasks are taking place on the walkway?
- Is the task preventing the employee from seeing where he is going for example?
- Decide what to do to minimise the risk
- Design and maintenance
- Is the floor suitable for the environment, fitted correctly and properly maintained?
- Are the walkways wide enough and level?
- Are stairs suitable, are risers consistent?
- Are nosings highlighted where necessary?
- Are usable handrails available?
- Environmental factors also fall into this category,
- Is the lighting good enough for employees to see hazards?
- What about distractions that might prevent them from seeing where they are going?
- Ensure that checks are made to check that the actions have been and continue to be effective
- Choose only suitable floor surfaces and particularly avoid very smooth floors in areas that will become wet/contaminated (such as kitchens and entrance halls).
- It is not just good enough to have a designated walkway, it must be kept clear, no trailing wires, no obstructions. Employees and cleaners need to have ‘a see it, sort it’ attitude to ensure these and other work areas are kept clear. Is the cleaning regime effective? Are there enough bins, storage facilities etc?
- Ensure lighting levels are sufficient, properly plan pedestrian and traffic routes and avoid overcrowding
Normal conditions still have potential to cause slips
Remember slip accidents do not only happen outside, or during winter months, or where there are cold stores/freezers, where ice may be a problem
It is true that most slip injuries are on icy, wet or contaminated (e.g. food, oil) floors. Far fewer slips happen on clean, dry floors – so this should be your first aim. When someone slips his or her foot slides on the film of contaminant instead of making firm contact with the floor itself. Don’t forget that dry contaminants, such as dust or plastic bags, can also cause people to slip and fall with equally damaging outcomes.
Train workers in the correct use of any safety and cleaning equipment provided. Cleaning methods and equipment must be suitable for the type of surface being treated. You may need to get advice from the manufacturer or supplier. Take care not to create additional slip or trip hazards while cleaning and maintenance work is being done.
Floors need to be checked for loose finishes, holes and cracks, worn rugs and mats etc. Take care in the choice of floor if it is likely to become wet or dusty due to work processes. Seek specialist advice when choosing a floor for difficult conditions.
Obstructions and objects left lying around can easily go unnoticed and cause a trip. Try to keep work areas tidy and if obstructions can’t be removed, warn people using signs or barriers. Cardboard should not be used to absorb spillages as this itself presents a tripping hazard.
Footwear can play an important part in preventing slips and trips. This is especially important where floors can’t be kept dry. Your footwear supplier should be able to advise on shoes/boots with slip-resistant soles. Employers need to provide footwear, if it is necessary to protect the workers’ safety.
Further information is available in HSE publication INDG 225 Preventing slips trips at work
Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence v1.0’.
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