Slips, Trips and Falls

Last reviewed on 11/07/2013 11:07

This page gives information on how to assess the risks of slips, trips and falls in the workplace and how they can be avoided.

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Slips, trips and falls at work – the costs

According to statistics from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), slips and trips are the single most common cause of injuries at work, and account for over a third of all major work injuries.

They cost employers over £512m a year in lost production and other costs and account for over half of all reported injuries to members of the public.

All employees, visitors, members of the public and contractors who are in the workplace are at equal risk. With workplace insurances only able to cover a part of the costs, the costs to employers of legal actions resulting from falls can be considerable.

 

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Main causes of slips, trips and falls

The main causes of slips, trips and falls in the workplace are:

  • uneven floor surfaces
  • unsuitable floor coverings
  • wet floors
  • changes in levels
  • trailing cables
  • poor lighting
  • poor housekeeping.

 

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Legal duties and obligations to prevent falls

As well as the moral duty of employers to protect employees and members of the public, General Health and Safety Legislation covers all employers and workplaces.

The regulations include obligations to protect employees and the public from risks associated with slips, trips and falls.

The following regulations also apply:

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 These regulations cover all aspects of the workplace, including a requirement that floors are suitable, in good condition and free from obstructions. People must also be able to move around the workplace safely.

To view the full text of the above legislation online, please follow the links under Legislation.

 

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Assessing the risks of slips, trips and falls

The HSE recommend a five-step approach to risk assessment in the workplace. The risk of slips, trips and falls should always be considered:

1. Look for slip and trip hazards around the workplace, including floor coverings and their condition, uneven floors, trailing cables and areas that are sometimes slippery due to spillages. Don’t forget to include any outdoor areas, remembering that weather conditions may be a factor.

2. Decide who might be harmed and how. Who comes into the workplace? Are they at risk? Are some groups more at risk than others?

3. Consider the risks. Are there already measures in place to deal with the risks? Are floor coverings suitable for the area and the work carried out there? What cleaning and maintenance systems are in place? Are regular inspections carried out? Are employees instructed to keep traffic routes clear?

4. Record your findings if you have five or more employees.

→ Download the Healthy Working Lives' Risk Assessment Form

→ Download Risk Assessment Form – Worked Example

5. Regularly review the assessment. If any significant changes take place, make sure that precautions are still adequate to deal with the risks.

To help you complete a slips and trips assessment, the HSE have developed a free Slip Assessment Tool (SAT):

→ Download the HSE's Slip Assessment Tool (external site)

 

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Reducing the risks of slips, trips and falls

Employers have a duty to make sure they protect people in the workplace from the risks of slips, trips and falls but everyone can help to avoid such accidents.

Reducing the risks is usually easy, costs little or no money and often has other benefits:

Spillages Clean up all spillages immediately. Use a cleaning agent if required. If the floor is wet, use appropriate signs to tell people the floor is still wet and that extra care is needed. Alternatively, use another route until the spillage or wetness is gone.

Trailing cablesTry to place equipment to avoid cables crossing pedestrian routes and use cable guards to cover cables where required.

Change of surface from wet to dryEnsure suitable footwear is worn, warn of risks by using signs and locate doormats where these changes are likely.

Rugs or mats Where they cannot be eliminated, make sure rugs or mats are securely fixed and that edges do not present a trip hazard.

Slippery floor surfaces Assess the cause of the slipperiness and treat accordingly, for example treat chemically and use appropriate cleaning materials and methods. In some cases you may need to repair or replace the floor surface.

Changes in level and slopesImprove visibility, lighting, provide hand rails and add tread markers or other floor markings.

Poor lighting Improve lighting levels and placement of lighting to provide a more even lighting level over all floor areas.

Footwear Ensure workers choose suitable footwear with the correct type of sole. If the work requires special protective footwear, the employer should provide it free of charge.

 

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Further information on slips, trips and falls in the workplace

Free resources from Healthy Working Lives Links below are to publications pages giving options to download these resources:

Free guidance from the Health and Safety Executive Note – all links are to external pages on the HSE website giving options to download or order these resources:

Legislation

→ View The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 (external site).

 

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