Slips, trips and falls
Tips and advice for winter at the workplace
- Black ice isn’t always visible and so can be an even greater hazard for both motorists and pedestrians – reduce the chances of slips on your premises by ensuring that any areas of traffic (both pedestrian and vehicle) are sufficiently covered in de-icing salt.
- Pre-salting paths and car parks based on forecasts of heavy frosts is more effective than spreading de-icing salt afterwards. For larger areas such as car parks, use a spreader to gain maximum effectiveness and coverage of your de-icing salt.
- Source your de-icing salt during autumn to avoid being caught short re-acting to a sudden heavy frost or snowfall. De-icing salt can be conveniently stored in grit bins designed to protect the salt all year round.
- When snow or icy roads are forecast inform your staff that they should adjust their driving to suit the conditions – if you have sales staff who travel allow them more time to reach appointments.
Nearly 11,000 workers suffered serious injury as a result of a slip or trip last year.
The HSE’s current powerful campaign ‘Shattered lives,’ which aims to reduce the number of slips, trips and falls in the workplace by 10% by 2010, moves away from the old ‘slipped on a banana skin’ image. As the case of the worker who slipped on a tomato (below) shows, the issue of slips and trips is no joke for employee or employer.
The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 imposes a duty on all employers to take steps to ensure the health and safety of their employees and third parties (such as customers or workmen), including controlling risks such as slips, trips and falls.
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 state that floors must be suitable and in good condition. They must also be free from obstructions and people must be able to move around safely.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 impose a duty on employers to carry out risk assessments, including hazards involving slips, trips and falls.
- Look for slip and trip hazards (e.g. uneven floors, trailing cables, slippery surfaces – wet or otherwise)
- Identify who may be harmed and how (e.g. older or disabled people)
- Consider the risks and whether current safety measures adequately deal with these
- Record findings (if five or more employees); and review the risk assessment regularly
Dealing with hazards:
Flooring – wet floors and ill-fitted or damaged floor coverings can lead to tripping. Spillages should be wiped up as soon as possible and safety signage used.
Contamination – oil, grease or even rainwater can make floors very slippery. Clean thoroughly, mop quickly and utilise safety signage.
Obstacles – keeping areas clear of obstructions and work areas tidy can reduce accidents.
Cleaning – access to wet areas should be stopped and cleaning carried out in sections, using signs and/or cones.
Environment – lighting, weather and condensation are contributory factors. Gritting should be carried out when frost, ice or snow is forecast, or when walkways are likely to be wet and the floor temperatures are at, or below, freezing.
‘Shattered lives’ – HSE slips, trips and falls webpage: www.hse.gov.uk/slips