Each year, 40% of all accidents reported to the HSE are attributed to slips, trips and falls and cost employers around £512 million in lost production. They are also responsible for 50% of all reported injuries to members of the public in workplaces. This short guide gives tips on how to reduce these statistics and what you can do to prevent slips and trips in your workplace.
There are many factors that contribute to slips, trips and falls in your workplace, according to the HSE…
- Unsuitable floor surfaces
- Wet/contaminated floors
- Unsuitable footwear
- Poor lighting
- Obstructions in walkway
- Uneven surfaces
To tackle these risks employers should focus on :
Contamination (e.g. Oil and dust)
Contamination can occur through spills, leaks or from cleaning activities (e.g. wet floors). You can look at ways to reduce the risk by reviewing current work practices and putting measures in place to ensure access to these areas are restricted.
If it is not possible to avoid contamination, other factors could be altered – for instance the type of flooring, cleaning method/routine or type of footwear worn.
The floor in a workplace should be suitable for the type of work activity taking place on it. If a floor is slippery, the causes should be assessed – for example, does the floor need to be chemically treated? Are appropriate cleaning materials and methods being used?
HSE says that choosing the right slip-resistant footwear for workers can be tricky and the final choice may have to be a compromise based on a range of factors – e.g. durability, comfort and other safety features. It advises seeking the supplier’s advice, asking for trial pairs to try and ensuring any trial involves a representative sample of the workforce and lasts long enough to produce meaningful results.
This could include: lighting (could create glare on a shiny floor or inadequate lighting could stop people seeing hazards); noise, which could distract people from hazards; weather (rainwater, ice, snow, frost); humidity; and condensation.
How people act and behave in their work environment – for instance, dealing with spillages, rushing around, wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) and so on.
There should be no trailing wires or other obstructions, an effective cleaning regime and adequate storage facilities and rubbish bins to avoid trips.
Design and maintenance
Employers need to ensure that flooring is fitted correctly and properly maintained and that walkways are located correctly, available for use, wide enough and level. Stairs should be suitable, with usable handrails available and risers consistent. Markings can be used to indicate changes in level.
This is an abridged version of an article which originally appeared in RoSPA’s Safety Express Journal Nov/Dec 2014. For more vital health and safety guides, facts and advice, sign up to SafetyMatters, RoSPA’s free fortnightly newsletter and receive our collection of free original e-books!
Additional reading and resources:
Slips and trips are covered by three main pieces of health and safety legislation:
HSE’s Slips and trips website:
Advice from the Scottish Centre for Healthy Working Lives:
HSE’s Risk assessment website:
The Construction Industry Research and Information Association (CIRIA) guidance on safe surfaces:
HSE’s Slips and trips eLearning package:
HSE’s Slips Assessment Tool:
Free animated video on good practice to avoid slips and trips – Napo in… No laughing matter: