Although most slips trips and falls in the workplace can result in nothing more than a bruise, some of these accidents can result in significant injury or even death. Kitchens using large pots of boiling oil, construction sites with workers working at height, or manufacturing utilising lots of moving machinery are examples of places where a small fall could lead to a severe accident.
According to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), falls at work cost businesses a combined sum of over £500 million per year in insurance, investigation and equipment repair costs — and the costs and damage done to the employee can be impossible to calculate. More than enough reason for businesses to look into better health and safety training for their employees.
To the UK economy in total, slips, trips and falls at work cost £800 million a year in health costs, social security payments and legal costs.
In terms of health and safety at work, slips trips and falls in the workplace are classified as different types of accidents. Each has its own causes and risks, and depending on your business processes, each may require a different approach when removing potential hazards.
|Slipping hazards||Slipping hazards are identified in health and safety at work as anything that causes somebody to lose their footing and fall as a result. This can be as a result of a variety of things, such as spillages on a tiled floor, an over-polished surface, or inappropriate footwear for a certain job. Slips generally result in minor injuries such as bruises, but when they happen in a hazardous environment, they could result in very serious injuries.|
Tripping hazards are identified as anything that directly obstructs a person’s ability to walk, causing them to lose balance and fall. Like slipping, trips aren’t too dangerous in a safe working environment, but if working at height on or around dangerous machinery, they could result in a severe injury.
|Falling is what happens after a slip, trip, or due to an accidental misstep resulting in the person falling from a height. Falls can be extremely serious, even if there isn’t a significant height involved. Falling onto sharp objects, onto heavy machinery, or even onto a hard floor can result in serious injuries.|
As an employer, it’s your duty to ensure a high standard of health and safety at work for anybody at your premises, including both employees and those not in your employment (e.g. contractors, visitors or members of the public). This is outlined in general terms in the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
It’s also your responsibility to assess all significant risks by identifying all hazards, and providing appropriate controls to minimise harm. This will be covered in your risk assessment. The specifics of this are outlined in the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (Regulation 3).
The final requirement is the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 (Regulation 12), which lays out the specifics of tripping hazards, the condition of floors and the grounds around the workplace.
The vast majority of slips and falls are caused by hazards such as spillages, loose cables, poor lighting, and uneven floors. These types of accidents are easily avoidable with even the basic health and safety training. Since the costs of training are tiny in comparison to the costs caused by an accident, it makes sense to ensure your workforce is properly trained in identifying and removing these hazards where possible.
The hazard spotting checklist from the HSE is a good place to start as it provides a good framework in relation to understanding how to spot hazards and prevent slips trips and falls in the workplace. If you still need help after going through the checklist then we’re here to help.