This article has been created to give you some useful tips and ideas for the prevention of Slips, Trips & Falls. If you are looking to input the correct control measures and want to create a Slips, Trips and Falls risk assessments for your workplace, then we recommend that the appropriate training is undertaken. Our online Slips, Trips and Falls training course will give you the knowledge that you will need to do this.
Slips, trips and falls hazards exist in nearly every workplace, but it mostly those that are obvious that are less likely to be controlled and these can lead to serious injury. In our workplace, appropriate actions and precautions must be put in place to avoid these accidents from happening. We all have the right to feel that the workplace we are in is safe, and it is the employer’s duty to ensure that the risk of slips, trips and falls are removed or reduced so far as is reasonably practicable, this involves weighing the risks against the trouble, time and money needed to control them. It is only when the latter grossly outweighs the risks (i.e. the likelihood and severity) that employers are not duty-bound to control such risks. Generally controlling slips, trips and falls hazards is inexpensive in comparison to the serious injuries that may occur.
This article will work as a useful reminder that even the most common objects that we come across in our daily lives, such as boxes, a loose mat or a wet floor can cause slips, trips and falls in the workplace, resulting in severe injury.
Statistics on Workplace Slips, Trips and Falls
The HSE (Health and Safety Executive) Summary Statistics for Great Britain 2018 states…
- 31% in non-fatal injuries, slips, trips and falls on the same level were the most common form of injury
- 8% Falls from height being the fourth most common
- 144 fatalities – an increase if nine deaths from 2016/17
It’s easy to forget that these statistics represent real-life events. But this demonstrates how an avoidable accident at work involving a slip, trip or fall can cause detrimental consequences on a person’s health or even their life.
Everybody in the workplace has a duty of care to protect themselves and another person’s wellbeing, whether you are an employer or an employee.
It is the duty of the employer to ensure that all control measures are in place, to prevent the rise of risk, but it is the responsibility of the employee to ensure that these measures are upheld and followed thoroughly.
Minimising the Risk of Slips
Slips can be easily prevented if the correct precautions are put into place. Usually, slips occur when certain hazards are on the ground, such as wet floors, slippery surfaces and even some loose dust or powders, which can be considered as a slip hazard.
Slip hazards may be caused by:
- Liquid spillages, such as drinks, chemicals or other work-related items, e.g. oil or paint
- Wet floors from mopping or cleaning resulting in puddles or wet patches on smooth floors
- Wet weather, resulting in the stream of wetness from shoes, leaves and mud
- Poor flooring, causing slips with certain types of footwear
5 Tips on Preventing Slip Hazards
Cleaning activities: Always use wet floor signs after cleaning floors to ensure that people are aware that floors may be slippery. This will also deter people from walking across wet floors, allowing them to air dry properly. To speed up the drying time of a wet floor, a dry mop can always be used. Ensure that no unnecessary excess water, such as puddles, are left on floors.
Maintaining housekeeping: If you see a spillage or cause one, it should be cleaned as soon as possible. If chemicals have been spilt, you must contact the correct qualified persons to clean it immediately. Localised tea and coffee making areas could be spread across office areas, limiting the carrying of drinks and consequently reducing the risk of spillages. Always ensure that liquids are stored correctly.
Weather: In the UK, wet and cold weather is always making a common appearance. It is therefore important that pathways are cleared of wet leaves, snow, ice and mud. Having correct light fittings in darker weather will brighten up dimly lit walkways when there is less natural light.
Anti-slip equipment: There is a variety of anti-slip equipment available, such as covers, mats, anti-slip tape and grating. Implementing these into your place of work reduces the risk of slips in areas that could cause danger, such as stairs and entrances.
Working with liquids: Job roles, e.g. waitressing and bar staff, use liquids daily as part of their working activities. Control measures can be put in place to prevent spillages, such as drip trays, containers with fill lines, and using lids. Keeping up the mantra of ‘clean as you go’ will also help to prevent a build-up of liquids and spillages.
Minimising the Risk of Trips
When someone trips, is it usually due to the person’s foot or feet being caught or obstructed by an object, resulting in their balance being lost and causing a fall. This could result in a person seriously injuring themselves or other people around. There are many common trip hazards, such as cables, loose mats and some of these hazards, and these are commonly unnoticeable.
Trip hazards may be caused by:
- Obstruction of view when walking, i.e. carrying a pile of objects such as folders, will obstruct your view and may cause you to trip. Our Manual Handling course has more information on the risks of this.
- Loose cables on the floor can cause trip hazards; these may be from equipment such as computers, hoovers, desk fans or other objects used within the workplace.
- Broken carpets and mats that need replacing or have been poorly installed
5 Tips on Preventing Trip Hazards
Maintaining housekeeping: Ensure all walkways are clear from any objects that shouldn’t be there; this could include rubbish, boxes or deliveries. You should report any broken flooring, such as mats, carpets or loose wooden planks
Manual handling: As mentioned previously, manual handling can cause a trip hazard. When carrying objects from one place to another, ensure that you can see where you are always going and that your view is not restricted. Manual handling training is recommended.
Lighting: Insufficient lighting will prevent people from seeing potential hazards in walkways or rooms. Ensure that adequate lighting is always provided and report any broken lights straight away.
Cables: Plug-in equipment is used commonly throughout many working establishments. For fixed equipment, such as computers, ensure that loose wires are organised and tied together and do not obstruct walkways.
Premises: Providing lots of plug-in sockets around your workplace will prevent the trailing of wires and cables across floors. If there are the use of single steps in the workplace, make sure that these are clearly signposted with the appropriate hazard signs.
Minimising the Risk of Falls
Falls from height should be considered a major hazard, and we recommend that if you are working at height daily, then adequate training should be taken, such as an ‘Understanding Working at Height’ course.
When thinking of falls from height, you may assume that the person is working with scaffolding, ladders or on roofs. But falls from below head height can also cause serious injury, as the health repercussions of this could include head injury, broken bones amongst other injuries.
Fall hazards may be caused by:
- Using unsuitable platforms to access shelves or other objects at height, such as chairs, stools and tables
- Using a broken or unstable ladder
- Using a ladder incorrectly
- Working on scaffolding
- Working on machines that access height such as mobile elevated platforms (MEWPs)
5 Tips on Preventing Fall Hazards
Equipment: The use of safety equipment is highly important when working with height. The use of harnesses and safety nets can save lives in the event of a fall from height. The use of scaffolding can prevent falls from happening if it is constructed correctly.
Practices: Do not climb on inappropriate platforms, such as tables or chairs, to access height. Always follow the correct safety procedures.
Ladders: Do not lean the ladder against fragile surfaces such as plastic guttering or windows that might shatter. When erected, the ladder must be at an angle of 75°. The ladder should be long enough to extend the three rungs above the area where you will be working.
If the ladder is for access to another level, it must be firmly tied and extended at least 1 metre or 3 rungs above the working area.
Training: As mentioned previously, members of staff who will be working at height regularly, should have undergone proper training to ensure that they hold the knowledge of the risks and hazards of working at height.
Planning: Planning the work correctly is crucial. Check again that there is no practical alternative to working at height and if that is the case, then the work MUST be carefully planned, well supervised and carried out in as safe a way as reasonably practicable.
Slips, Trips and Falls – Risk Assessments
As well as complying with the law, a risk assessment is intended to focus on the specific dangers and hazards of the job to enable them to be addressed and controlled before anyone is harmed. The law acknowledges that not all risks can be eliminated but aims to protect people as far as is reasonably practicable.
Implementing a successful risk assessment into your business will highlight any risks or hazards surrounding slips, trips or falls. It will then give an opportunity to prevent or minimise these risks from happening, resulting in the protection of worker’s health.