Slips and Trips

Slips and trips are the most common cause of major injuries at work. They occur in almost all workplaces and 95 per cent of major slips result in broken bones. They can also be the initial cause of a range of other types of accident, such as falls from height.

There are several factors that can contribute to a slip or trip. Considering these factors can play an important part in preventing slips and trips:

•  Flooring – needs to be suitable and maintained in good condition.

•  Contamination and obstacles – most floors only become slippery when substances like water, oil, grease and dust end up on the floor. Half of trip accidents are caused by bad housekeeping.

•  Cleaning – can remove contamination and obstacles – but the moist surface created by cleaning can also create slip and trip hazards.

•  People – human behaviour and attributes can affect the risk of a slip or trip.

•  Environment – lighting, noise and weather conditions can affect the risk of a slip or trip.

•  Footwear – needs to be suitable for the work environment and can play a key part in preventing slips and trips.

To tackle the slips and trips issue in an organisation it should:

•  Take slips and trips seriously.

•  Understand and recognise their causes.

•  Think that they’re preventable.

•  Use controls to minimise the risk.

When a risk assessment of work activities is being completed the assessor should also:

Look out for slip and trip hazards – for example, uneven floors, trailing cables, areas that are sometimes slippery because of spillages.

Also, take account of older workers and people with disabilities, who may be at particular risk.

Your employer should:

•  Get things right from the start – when designing new work areas, choose only suitable floor surfaces and make sure there’s enough light and plan pedestrian routes.

•  Where possible provide designated walking routes – encourage team members to use these and make sure they use them themselves, too!

•  Specify and provide appropriate footwear at work – footwear plays an important part in reducing risk of slipping and tripping and is particularly important where floors can’t be kept dry.

•  Keep floors in good condition – encourage everyone to keep an eye out for any defects in a surface, such as loose finishing, holes, cracks, worn rugs and mats, and spillages, and report them.

•  Make sure lighting is checked as part of regular inspections – people need to be able to see any obstructions or slippery areas, so make sure damaged lights are replaced or repaired promptly.

•  Keep work areas tidy and free from obstructions – these can easily cause a trip. If obstructions can’t be avoided, make sure that people are warned of the hazard by signs or barriers.