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Trips, slips and falls
Slips and trips are the most common cause of major injuries at work. They occur in almost all workplaces, with 95% of major slips resulting in broken bones. They can also be the initial causes for a range of other accident types such as falls from height.
Trips and slips account for:
- 33% of all reported major injuries
- 20% of over-3-day injuries to employees
- 2 fatalities per year
- 50% of all reported accidents to members of the public
- cost to employers £512 million per year
- cost to health service £133 million per year
- incalculable human cost
Causes of slips and trips
Tripping, as it relates to health and safety, is essentially caused by the lack of awareness of the presence of an obstruction(s) in the path of an individual whilst walking or running, while slipping is caused by an combination of factors. These include the environment, the floor surface, contamination on the floor, the use the floor area and footwear of the individuals involved.
Health and Safety law on slips and trips
The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 requires employers to ensure the health and safety of all employees and anyone who may be affected by their work. Employees must not endanger themselves or others and must use any safety equipment provided. Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 requires employers to undertake risk assessment and where necessary take actions to safeguard health and safety. The Work Place (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 requires floors to be suitable, in good condition and free from obstructions
The risk of slips and trips needs to be assessed using good management methods. This should include:
- Planning: Identify areas of risks and take actions to improve. This should include consideration of the materials, equipment used and work practices
- Organisation: there should be individuals who have responsibilities to ensure that areas of work are kept safe. This preferably should be a supervisor or manager. Access routes should be kept clear and advice given to cleaning and other contractors
- Control: There should be checks to ensure that practices are carried out properly and any interventions that are necessary to control the risks are implemented
- Monitor and Review: Incidents involving employees and others should be monitored and where a review has indicated that other interventions are needed then it must be implemented where it is reasonably practicable to do so
- Step 1 Look for slips and trips hazards around the work place such as uneven floors, trailing
- Step 2 Decide who might be harmed and how. Who comes to the work place? Are they at risk? Do you have control over them?
- Step 3 Consider the risks. Are precautions already taken to deal with the risk?
- Step 4 Record your findings if you have five or more employees
- Step 5 Regularly review the assessments. If any significant changes have taken place make sure existing precautions and management arrangements are adequate to deal with the risks
Good work practice - the main control methods
- Pay attention to the design of work places and work activities to reduce hazards, eg no steep slopes, provide good lighting, and specify slip resistant floors especially in entrance areas and kitchen.
- Prevent contamination of floors eg. stop spillages of powders and objects by using suitable containers and dust extraction. Maintain equipment and buildings.
- Ensure that there are suitable cleaning and drying regimes for floors and that procedure is followed.
- Provide effective matting
- Keep walkways clear and clean up objects and spillages effectively and quickly
- Do not leave smooth floors damp
- Ensure good lighting and marked edges
- Where slipping risks remain, where the complete elimination of all floor contamination risks (water and ingredients) is not practical, provide slip resistant footwear.
- Encourage people to take care and use handrails, pick up objects, remove obstructions, avoid cables crossing pedestrian routes, don't leave tools lying around