Slips, trips and falls

  • Health & Safety
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Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

(Last updated )

Slips and trips can happen at any time in the workplace. Despite that, employers have a legal responsibility to prevent them so far as is reasonable practicable.

Following the right work practices can help prevent injuries caused by slips and trips. If you ignore this legal duty, you could face injury claims, tribunal hearings, and unlimited compensation fines.

In this guide, we'll look at what slips, trips, and falls are; what the law covers; and how to manage them in any workplace.

What are slips, trips, and falls?

Slips, trips, and falls are a type of hazard found in the workplace. They're considered as the most common cause for non-fatal injuries.

These incidents don't just happen to workers; they can happen to customers, contractors, and even the general public. Some injuries count as minor; but others can lead to permanent injuries and even death.

Managing them can help employers reduce the number of injuries linked to slips and trips incidents. Prevention steps can stop you from facing negligence claims, paying legal expenses, and losing insurance costs.

When do common slips, trips, and falls occur?

Slips, trips, and falls can occur due to all kinds of factors. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identify the most common causes through these areas:

Contamination

When workers slip, it's usually because of some form of contamination. Like dust, oil, or water being found on the floor.

Contamination may come from spills, leaks, or general cleaning. Workers can prevent slips by dealing with hazards correctly. For example, cleaning up spills themselves instead of waiting for someone else to do it.

Cleaning

Workplaces must have rigorous cleaning methods to avoid slips and trips. They often occur because cleaning wasn't done properly; or the process has caused hazards (like trailing cables from a hoover).

Cleaning should ideally be done when other people aren't around. And workers should follow a plan that uses the right cleaning equipment, products, and methods.

Human factors

The way people act or behave in a workplace often leads to slips, trips, and falls. For example, not reporting a chemical spill on a work floor.

Workers should also avoid rushing, carrying things that block their vision, or get distracted whilst walking. All these can help reduce the number trips and falls.

Flooring

Every workplace will have a distinct kind of flooring. And every floor will present its own slips, trips, and falls risks.

The law requires every work floor to be suitable, in good condition, and free from obstruction. Stairs should have handrails, elevated floor edges should have warning tape, and non-slip mats should be put in relevant places.

Environment

Workplace environments can present all kinds of slips and trips risks. The most common factors come from:

  • Lighting: Too much lighting can cause glares and reflections; too little lighting makes it hard to see hazards.
  • Noise: Loud or unfamiliar noises can distract people, causing them to slip, trip, or fall.
  • Weather: Cold weather factors (like ice or snow) can lead to slippery surfaces.
  • Water: Rainfall to condensation can cause watery surfaces.

Footwear

Employers must ensure workers wear the non-slip footwear if necessary. If this is required to protect workers' safety, you must provide this to them free of charge.

Suitable footwear covers a range of factors; like durability, comfort, and safety features. You can even seek more advice from the suppliers, or ask your workforce for direct feedback.

What law covers slips trips and falls?

Slips, trips and falls prevention come under a number of Health & Safety laws, like:

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA)

This law requires employers to ensure the health & safety of all employees affected by their work practices. This also includes non-employees like customers, clients, and the public.

Employers have a legal duty to prevent slips and trips risks. However, employees also have duties to take care of their own health and safety, as well as those around them.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSWA)

This law requires employers to assess risks (like slips, trips, and falls) and take necessary steps towards addressing them.

There are many things to consider for health and safety management. But the best place to start is by carrying out risk assessments.

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992

This law requires employers to ensure their workplace is suitable for both employees and non-employees.

This involves keeping stations, floors, and the workplace tidy. By keeping them in good condition, you'll be able to manage any risk leading to slips and trips.

How to prevent slips, trips, and falls in the workplace

Every employer and employee has a part to play when it comes to preventing slips and trips.

To tackle them, you can create an effective health & safety management system, carry out relevant risk assessments, and comply with legal regulations.

Let's look at ways to prevent slips, trips, and falls in the workplace:

Maintain work environment standards

Employers should maintain work environment standards; particularly when it comes to preventing slips and trips at work.

Inspect every floor for cracks, uneven surfaces, and other risks that can affect people. You can place non-slip mats in relevant places; and invest in non-slippery flooring.

Provide adequate lighting

The next step is to ensure your workplace provides adequate lighting. This includes the general work area, as well as non-access spaces (like stairwells and emergency exits).

Make sure your lighting isn't too bright, as this can cause vision issues - resulting in slip hazards. But it shouldn't be too dim either, as people may trip over objects on the work floor.

Install health & safety signs

Another great step to take is installing health & safety signs when and where needed. These prevention signs assist people walking in areas that could be potentially hazardous.

Different areas will require different types of health & safety signs. For example, workers should place a caution sign on wet floors that needs drying after cleaning.

Use proper personal protective equipment (PPE)

Some workers might require personal protective equipment (PPE) before working or entering certain floors.

If that's the case, make sure workers have the proper footwear needed to work safely. These should be shoes that are non-slip, durable, and have good traction. Workers are then protected from falling objects, chemical exposure, and slippery surfaces.

Conduct out a slips, trips, and falls risk assessment

The best way to prevent slips and trips is by conducting a risk assessment. This assessment can help with identifying hazards you may not have come across before.

Employers should also consider any other health & safety knowledge or practices related to your specific workplace. Remember, slips and trips in an office will be different to a construction site.

Get expert advice on slips, trips, and falls with Peninsula

Employers have a legal responsibility to create precautions for slips and trips during work. This applies to their workers, as well as anyone else affected by their work premises or practices.

If you ignore these duties, you could face injury claims, tribunal hearings, and unlimited compensation fines.

Peninsula offers expert advice on slips, trips, and falls. Our HR team offers 24/7 HR employment advice which is available 365 days a year.

Want to find out more? Contact one of our HR consultants today. For further support, call our telephone number 0800 028 2420.

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