FOCUS ON SLIPS, TRIPS AND FALLS
Slips, trips and falls is one of the most common causes of workplace injury. Each year slips, trips and falls result in thousands of preventable injuries. The most common ones are musculoskeletal injuries, cuts, bruises, fractures and dislocations, but more serious injuries can also happen.
- Slips occur when your foot loses traction with the ground surface due to inappropriate footwear or walking on slippery floor surfaces that are highly polished, wet or greasy.
- Trips occur when you catch your foot on an object or surface. In most cases people trip on low obstacles that are hard to spot such as uneven edges in flooring, loose mats, open drawers, untidy tools or electrical cables.
- Falls can result from a slip or trip but many occur during falls from low heights such as steps, stairs and curbs, falling into a hole or a ditch or into water.
Slips, trips and falls can result in injuries in a number of different ways:
- Unmarked changes in floor levels.
- Slipping on a wet floor (which is wet because something is spilt on it, or because of weather conditions or cleaning processes).
- Poor housekeeping and obstructed views – leading to people tripping over loose carpet, mats, trailing cables, boxes or bags.
- Damaged flooring including stairs.
- Not using stair hand rails.
- Cramped conditions and poor work flow (eg desks too close together).
- Standing on unstable furniture.
- Poor lighting.
What can you do?
First you must always eliminate the risk where you’re reasonably able to. Where you’re not reasonably able to, then you need to consider what you can do to minimise the risk. Here are some examples:
- Keep work and storage areas tidy.
- Ensure designated walkways are provided with good conditions under foot, signposted and adequately lit.
- Use mechanical lifting aids rather than carrying heavy or unwieldy loads that block the view ahead.
- Ensure workers wear appropriate footwear with good grip.
- Plan deliveries to minimise the amount of materials on site.
- Have designated areas for waste collection, and provide skips and bins. Make sure everyone knows who is responsible for waste removal.
- Use cordless tools where possible. If you need to use cables for temporary lighting or power tools, run the cables at a high level.
- Treat slippery surfaces with stone or grit, depending on the conditions. Make sure you signpost any slippery areas.
- Consider using a ramp for any changes in level. Where this is not possible, use signs to warn workers to look out for a level change.
You need to select the most effective controls that are proportionate to the risk, and appropriate to your work situation.