According to the HSE, more than 10,000 workers suffered serious injuries as a result of slips and trips last year.
In fact, slips and trips are the most common workplace hazard, accounting for a third of all major injuries. A staggering 95 percent of major slips result in broken bones.
So why are slip and trip accidents so common?
For many adults, falling over is something that happens to children in the playground, or elderly people when they are unsteady on their feet. If one of these adults was to fall over they would expect to be mildly embarrassed and perhaps make a joke of it after work. They would probably not expect to be seriously injured.
Maybe it's not surprising then, that failing to take the risks seriously and a lack of understanding of the causes are cited as two of the main obstacles to putting problems right.
So what are the main causes?
Poor housekeeping is responsible for up to 50% of all trip accidents in the workplace. This includes things like unattended spills, trailing cables and obstacles left on the floor. All employees can take a personal responsibility to keep things tidy and make sure walkways are kept clear.
Unsuitable footwear can increase the risk of slipping over or losing your footing. Culprits include sandals, high heels and shoes with smooth soles. Employees should all know what type of footwear is suitable for them to wear, especially if it happens to be safety footwear.
Environmental factors such as adverse weather, humidity/condensation, longer hours of darkness and blinding glare from the sun can create or hide hazards. Simple solutions include turning lights on before entering darkened areas and wiping feet when entering buildings from outside.
Other contamination may include spilt liquids, oil, debris and manufacturing by-products such as dust. Employees can take a personal responsibility for cleaning up their own spills/mess and any other contamination they find – whether they caused it or not.
Cleaning can present slip risks in the form of mopped floors and trip risks caused by cables for vacuum cleaners and floor polishers. If cleaning is urgent or cannot be done out of hours, try to isolate the area being cleaned until it is safe to walk through.
Flooring can be problematic, especially if it becomes damaged. Employees can help by reporting things like potholes, broken slabs/tiles and loose carpeting/rugs as soon as they arise.
Human factors are an issue in most safety scenarios. Employees can be encouraged to take more responsibility for their own safety. For example, they can help themselves and others by attending to any slip or trip hazards they find immediately. They can make sure they only carry small loads they can see over and they can avoid distractions by not using a mobile phone whilst walking around the workplace.
Improving safety awareness in your workplace can help to prevent slips, trips and falls. With a greater understanding of the dangers, employees are more likely to report hazards, clean up spills, wear suitable footwear and keep their workplace tidy.
Kodiak's poster database contains a wide variety of posters on all aspects of slips, trips and falls.
These issues are also covered regularly in our workplace poster programme.
If you would like to increase awareness of the dangers of slips, trips and falls in your workplace, please get in touch.
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If you would like to find out how Kodiak posters can help your business work smoother, smarter and safer, please call us on: 01530 456 000 or email us.