Slips and trips are the most common cause of injury at work. On average, they cause 40 per cent of all reported major injuries and can also lead to other types of serious accidents. For example the risk of falling or falls from height is increased if the surface is slippery or wet .
Slips and trips are also the most reported injury to members of the public.
Employers have a legal duty to ensure the health and safety of their employees, including steps to control slips and trip risks.
There are 6 main things to consider for how to reduce the risk of slips trips and falls at work or just in general.
People rarely slip on a clean, dry floor often a wet floor is involved. Contamination is involved in almost all slip accidents, that is anything that ends up on a floor, e.g. rain water, oil, dust etc. especially if the floor is smooth.
Stop floors becoming contaminated by:
Use entrance matting
Fix leaks from machinery or buildings
Make sure plant and equipment are maintained
Design tasks to minimise spillages
Plan pedestrian and vehicle routes to avoid contaminated areas
Encourage a 'see it, sort it!' mentality to deal with hazards quickly.
Effective cleaning is an important way of managing slips and trips risks. However, the cleaning process itself can introduce further risks.
Make sure that your cleaning method is effective for the type of floor you have
Don’t introduce more slip or trip risks while cleaning is being done
Leave smooth floors dry after cleaning or exclude pedestrians until the floor is dry
Remove spillages promptly
Have effective arrangements for both routine cleaning and dealing with spills
Clean during quiet hours when pedestrians are not around
Clean in sections, so there is a dry path through the area
Use the appropriate detergent, mixed at the correct concentration.
Environmental issues can have an impact on the risk of slipping so it is important to take them into consideration.
Make sure lighting is sufficient and that slopes or steps are clearly visible
Too much light on a shiny floor can cause glare and stop people from seeing hazards on the floor and stairs
Unfamiliar and loud noises may be distracting
Cold weather can cause frost and ice to form, which may create slippery surfaces
Condensation may make a smooth floor slippery
Keep walkways and work areas clear of obstructions
Where floors cannot be kept clean and dry, slip-resistant footwear can help prevent slip accidents.
The safety features of footwear, including slip resistance, are tested according to a set of European test standards written into EN ISO 20344:2004 (A1: 2007). Footwear which has passed the EN test for slip resistance will be marked with one of the following codes, SRA, SRB or SRC. The codes indicate that the footwear has met the specified requirements when tested as follows:
SRA - tested on ceramic tile wetted with dilute soap solution
SRB - tested on smooth steel with glycerol
SRC - tested under both the above conditions.
The floor in a workplace must be suitable for the type of work activity taking place on it. The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations (regulation 12) require floors to be suitable, in good condition and free from obstructions to allow people to move around safely.
Where a floor is likely to be subject to frequent contamination, people should still be able to walk on it without the risk of slipping.
Loose, damaged and worn flooring must be repaired or replaced as required
Stairs should have consistent risers and the nosings (rounded edge of a step) highlighted where necessary
Sudden changes in floor level should be highlighted
Suitable handrails should be available where required.
How people act and behave in their work environment can affect slips and trips.
Deal with spillages instead of waiting for someone else to deal with it
Wear footwear (Personal Protective Equipment - PPE) as it can make a difference
Rushing, carrying large objects which obscure the view or becoming distracted whilst walking e.g. by using a mobile phone, will increase the risk of an accident
If you have an accident or a near miss, make sure you report it promptly to someone in authority who could use the information to prevent future accidents
Keep the workplace tidy.
To fulfill the duties as an employer you must consider all 6 steps to control the risks from slip trips and falls. There is one other vital item at the heart of all health and safety plans and that is training. The simplest and most cost effective way of making employees aware of the risks and hazards and how to control them is an online interactive training course with a certificate.