Slips, trips and falls are major contributors to workplace injuries each year, and you shouldn’t just think 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 2017/18, slips trips and falls accounted for over 35% of non-fatal injuries at work, and falls from height were responsible for 25% of fatalities at work.
That's a big chunk of workplace accidents.
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, reducing slips, trips and falls can be done on a budget and all of these suggestions can be put in place relatively quickly to start. Then, 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:
Untidy workplaces will see increased risks of slips, trips and falls. “Who left that there?” is a common phrase used after a trip. If something is left where it shouldn’t be, and the route is usually clear of obstacles, trips and falls become more likely. Improve housekeeping in your workplace to reduce the risk.
Obstacles in walkways such as boxes, cables, materials and other trip or slip hazards should be removed. Walkways are often heavy pedestrian traffic areas and are also often 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.
Trailing cables are a common trip hazard within workplaces. 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.
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 increasing slip risks.
Waste materials can increase slip, trip and fall hazards within the workplace. A half-empty bottle might be knocked over causing a slip hazard. A pile of waste materials next to a bin in a walkway will cause a trip hazard.
Take a look at the layout of your workplace. Could you plan it better to reduce slips, trips and falls? Plan where work activities will be carried out, where walkways and traffic routes are safest and where entrance and exit points are situated.
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.
You know your workplace, and you know where your walkways are. What about visitors and new employees? Make sure they know where the safe routes of access and escape are by clearly marking walkways. This will also help to prevent your employees from taking shortcuts across cluttered or uneven areas.
Slips down steps and stairs are common and can be prevented through non-slip edges. Reflective edges on stairs can also help to improve 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.
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.
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).
Unguarded edges at risk of falls from height and hazardous areas full of trip hazards, cables, uneven or loose flooring that should not be used as walkways 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 good footwear is providing non-slip surfaces, particularly in 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, so this might not be as quick to put in place as the other suggestions, but non-slip mats can be used until flooring is 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.