24th September, 2019

13 Causes Of Slips Trips And Falls In The Workplace

Did you have a nice trip? No, I spent 9 hours in A&E and I'll be off work for a month. It's not just minor injuries from slips, trips and falls - major injuries including dislocations and fractures also happen. Here's 13 causes of slips trips and falls that lead to 172,050 injuries last year.

13 Causes Of Slips Trips And Falls In The Workplace header image

Slips, trips and falls on the same level might not seem like a major issue. You don't have that far to fall. Apart from the obvious embarrassment if other people are watching, where's the harm?

172,050 injuries per year. That's right. More than a little embarrassing. According to the HSE statistics, slips and trips on the same level accounted for a massive 31% of all none fatal injuries reported.

Did you have a nice trip? No, I'm in agony. I spent 9 hours in A&E and I'll be off work for a month. It's not just minor injuries that result from slips, trips and falls. Many major injuries including dislocations and fractures can also happen.

And the causes of slips, trips and falls are often easy, and cheap, to fix. Simple quick actions, like cleaning up a spillage, or moving a cable, can prevent danger. And removing a slip or trip hazard is often all it takes to stop the problem.

Causes of slips

Slips can be caused by a variety of things, not just the obvious spillages. Let's look at some common examples you might find in your workplace.

1. Wet floors

Wet floors can be caused by a variety of things. Spillages are an obvious culprit. Cleaning activities can also create wet floor surfaces. When it's raining outside, entrance areas can become wet as rain travels in off peoples shoes and clothing. Poorly maintained buildings may also leak and let the outside in.

2. Slippery floors

Glossy polished floor tiles can be slip hazard if they are used in an unsuitable place, like a bathroom or entrance, where the floor may become wet. Depending on the type of footwear worn, flooring may be slippy even in dry conditions.

3. Dusty floors

It's not just liquids that can cause slips. Dusty surfaces can also create a slip hazard, preventing shoes from gripping the floor.

4. Loose mats and floor coverings

Some mats can also create a slip hazard if they don't grip well with the surface underneath. Step on it in the wrong way and it can slide from under you. Temporarily protecting a new floor with sheets or cardboard? These can also slip and slide underneath you.

5. Unsuitable footwear

Ever tried running in slippers, or socks? It's not recommended. Shoes with a slippery sole also aren't going to help you avoid slip hazards. In fact, they become one.

6. Icy conditions

Working outdoors in winter, or in cold environments? Ice is a slippery surface, even for the most robust footwear. Make sure you consider the possibility of ice forming on surfaces causing a slip hazard.

bandage on leg
It's not just minor injuries that result from slips, trips and falls

Causes of trips

Now you know what to look out for when it comes to causes of slips, but what about trips? Trip hazards can happen in any type of work environment, and it's not just cables you need to look out for.

1. Obstacles

Leaving materials, tools or equipment lying around, especially in walkways, are a common cause of trips at work. You need to use tools to work, right. But placing a tool or material in the wrong place can be unexpected to someone else. Packaging and waste materials are often culprits of becoming trip hazards.

2. Loose flooring

So we mentioning loose mats and floor coverings can be a slip hazard. They can also be a trip hazard. A rug curled up at the corner, a loose floorboard sticking up, and unlevel tile.

3. Uneven flooring

Potholes and uneven paving on footpaths can also create trip hazards where you don't expect them. Broken cracked slabs and other maintenance issues should be resolved as soon as possible before an accident has a chance to happen.

4. Trailing cables

Electricity is everywhere, or at least we need it everywhere. But unless you are using wireless equipment, you need to plug it in. And, that cable that you use, might just get in someone else's way. When you're moving around, so does the cable.

5. Obstructions

Like obstacles, but obstructions are fixed rather than temporary. Low walls, or a low kerb. Floor mounted socket covers left open. A step that you don't realise is there until you trip up it. That's an obstacle - and a trip hazard. It's why you see those yellow mind the step signs, that you also didn't see until it was too late.

sweeping brush
Poor housekeeping is a leading cause of slips, trips and falls at work

6. Poor housekeeping

Poor housekeeping leads to more of those obstacles we talked about earlier. But it's a problem in itself because poor housekeeping is a leading cause of slips, trips and falls at work. Removing waste and cleaning up regularly can help keep your workplace free from slip and trip hazards.

7. Bad lighting

Obstacles and obstructions are worse if you can't see them. If you can see them, you can't avoid them. Hopefully, they won't be there to begin with. But good lighting helps identify hazards, and get them cleared away. Lighting can be used to help highlight changes in floor level.

Now you know the causes, it's easy to see how a quick tidy up of spillages and obstacles and prevent many slips and trips from happening. It's not a one-time thing. But regular housekeeping can keep you on top of those hazards. Also, regular maintenance will help remove broken, loose or frayed floor coverings, and highlight when flooring needs replacing. Highlighting changes in floor levels or surfaces, and proving handrails can also increase safety where slip and trip hazards can't be fully removed.

Keeping your workforce aware of the dangers can also help increase compliance with housekeeping practices, cleaning up spillages, removing obstacles and wearing the right footwear. Download the free slip and trip toolbox talk to help raise awareness in your workplace.

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This article was written by Emma at HASpod. Emma has over 10 years experience in health and safety and BSc (Hons) Construction Management. She is NEBOSH qualified and Tech IOSH.

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