1st December, 2021
Slips, trips and falls are all huge contributors to the number of workplace injuries each year. The great news is, you can reduce slips, trips and falls on a budget, and you can put in place all of the suggestions in this post relatively quickly to start. Here are 15 quick ways to reduce the risk.
Every year, thousands of people in the UK slip, trip or fall at work. Falls from height can often be deadly, but you shouldn't only worry about falls when working at height. The majority of slips, trips and falls tend to be on the same level and can result in injuries from bruising to broken bones.
In fact, according to HSE statistics in 2019/20, slips, trips, and falls accounted for over 29% of non-fatal injuries at work, and falls from height were responsible for around 25% of fatalities at work.
That's a big chunk of workplace accidents and a huge number of people injured at work. And these are not always minor injuries. Around 25,000 were reported through RIDDOR, which means that the injuries were serious enough to require a significant amount of time off work.
If we can reduce the risks and prevent these accidents, we can make our workplaces safer.
Better still, what if reducing the risks of slips, trips and falls could be quick and easy?
When we think of slips and trips, we often think of slip and trip hazards, like a spill or a trailing cable. And, yes, these are two of the most obvious causes. But there can be many other factors at play, including flooring, footwear, housekeeping, cleaning, contamination, environment and people.
The great news is, you can fix problems with slips, trips, and falls on a budget. Many of the suggestions in this post are going to be cheap and quick to put in place. Once you've put the controls in place, they just need to be maintained as part of a good health and safety management system.
Here are 15 quick ways to reduce the risk of slips, trips and falls:
If items are discarded all over the place, the risk of slips and trips are more likely. Untidy workplaces will see increased risks of slips, trips and falls. “Who left that there?” is a common phrase used after a trip.
But it is equally dangerous if your workplace is usually tidy. If something is left where it shouldn't be, and the route is usually clear of obstacles, people won't look for a trip hazard!
Improve housekeeping in your workplace to reduce the risk. And once you have a tidy workplace, keep it that way. Be careful not to slip(!) back into bad habits.
Walkways are often heavy pedestrian traffic areas used as escape routes, access and egress. These areas should be kept clear of obstacles that will increase the risk of slips trips and falls.
Obstacles in walkways such as boxes, cables, and materials, are slip and trip hazards. People moving around your workplace need to be able to safely. Remove any trip or slip hazards from walkways to keep them clear.
Trailing cables are a common trip hazard within workplaces. But because electrical equipment is often portable, cable management is an ongoing process.
But it costs little (if anything) to fix this issue. Just a bit of time for planning and on the job training to make sure everyone knows how to route cables safely.
Plan the layout of your workplace to avoid trailing cables. Place desks close to power supplies, or route cables along walls or under raised floors to prevent trip hazards.
Make sure your team is aware of the dangers and knows how to manage the cables they use.
Get the cable management toolbox talk to raise awareness with your team.
Spills and trips can often be the result of not storing things correctly. A tin gets knocked over and leaks, and you have a slip hazard. Or materials are piled up loosely and spill out into a walkway, and you have trip obstacles.
Plan storage within your workplace to minimise the risk. For example, if liquids and substances are stored unsafely, upside down or in areas that containers may easily be damaged, leaks could occur. Or, if your storage area is in a real mess, people are less likely to use it, creating trip hazards elsewhere.
Waste materials can increase slip, trip and fall hazards within the workplace. A half-empty bottle might get knocked over, causing a slip hazard. A pile of waste materials next to a bin in a walkway will cause a trip hazard.
And the thing is, these waste materials have no place being there. You don't need them. They just cause problems. More slips and trips. Not to mention the fire hazards from waste.
So getting rid of waste quickly is an easy win. You need to dispose of it anyway, so get it moved before it causes a problem.
This tip will probably cost you nothing but your imagination.
Take a look at the layout of your workplace. Could you plan it better to reduce slips, trips and falls? Think about where work activities get carried out, where walkways and traffic routes are safest, and where entrance and exit points are situated.
Could you improve the layout to make it safer? A change could lead to productivity improvements too.
Uneven walkways will increase the risks of trips and should be made level. Dusty floors and loose floor coverings can also cause slips and trips.
Replacing flooring might be a more costly suggestion, but it's probably cheaper than having an accident.
You know your workplace, and you know where your walkways are. But what about visitors and new employees? Would they know how to get about safety?
Make sure walkways, access routes and escape routes are marked and signposted if necessary. This will also help to prevent your employees from taking shortcuts across cluttered or uneven areas.
Falling down the stairs can lead to nasty injuries, and unfortunately, slips down steps and stairs are fairly common. There are a few things you can do to reduce the risks and make your stair safer:
Speaking of visibility, it is easier to trip up if you can’t see the hazards.
Good lighting helps everyone see where they are going and reduces the risks of slips, trips and falls. If a box has been left in the walkway, or a drink has been spilt.
Your workplace might have good natural lighting but think about different times of the day or year. Do you need extra lighting in winter when it gets darker earlier? And does anyone work at night?
Clear signage to locate access routes, emergency escapes, entrance and exit points will help users who are unfamiliar with the layout find their way about safely – particularly important in the event of an emergency.
Put yourself in the shoes of someone unfamiliar with your workplace. Or better still, get someone new to take a look. Are signs clear? Can they find their way?
Spillage control is important to reduce slip hazards in the workplace. Spillages happen, but it’s important to ensure that any spillages are cleared up immediately and safely (particularly in the case of hazardous substances).
Some parts of your workplace might be dangerous. Perhaps work is being done and the floor is uneven. Or a floor covering has become loose and not been replaced yet. Or there are unguarded edges at risk of falls from height.
These areas should not be used as walkways and should be guarded or fenced off to prevent accidents.
Make sure your employees wear appropriate footwear for the environment they are working in. Shoes with good tread, for example, will help prevent slips.
Equally, if not more important, than suitable footwear is providing non-slip surfaces. This is especially necessary for areas that can get wet such as kitchens, bathrooms, washrooms etc, and floors that are regularly moped.
Suitable flooring will help reduce the risk of slips in these areas. Ok, changing flooring might not be as quick to put in place as the other suggestions, but you can use non-slip mats until the flooring gets replaced.
If you think of any more quick and easy ways to reduce slips trips and falls in the workplace, let us know and we will add them to the list!
Download the free slips and trips toolbox talk as a reminder and to raise awareness with your team.
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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