Slip and trip accidents can happen for a number of reasons, but all too frequently we jump to conclusions about why they happen rather than really looking for the true cause or, we decide that it is just one of those things and do nothing.
The following should help you to understand what causes a slip or trip and give you some ideas on what you can do to stop accidents from happening again. What you may find is that there are a number of options open to you that are quite straightforward and relatively easy to implement.
The floor in a workplace must be suitable for the type of work activity that will be taking place on it. Where a floor can't be kept dry, people should be able to walk on the floor without fear of a slip despite any contamination that may be on it. So it should have sufficient roughness.
The floor must be cleaned correctly to ensure that it does not become slippery or keep its slip resistance properties (if a non slip floor).
The floor must be fitted correctly
The floor must be maintained in good order to ensure that there are no trip hazards e.g. holes, uneven surfaces, curled up carpet edges.
Ramps, raised platforms and other changes of level should be avoided, if they can't they must be highlighted
Stairs should have:
Most floors only become slippery once they become contaminated. Prevent contamination and you reduce or even eliminate the slip risk.
Contamination can be classed as anything that ends up on a floor e.g. rainwater, oil, grease, cardboard, product wrapping, dust etc. the list is endless. It can be a by-product of a work process or be due to adverse weather conditions. If product ends up on the floor it is costing the company money.
First think about whether you can eliminate the problem, e.g.
If not, can the contamination be controlled e.g.:
If you can't stop contamination from getting onto a floor you will need to ensure that it is cleaned effectively and quickly. If you are relying on the floor to be good enough to cope with the contamination and still be non-slip you need to remember that the more viscous (the thicker) the contamination the rougher a floor needs to be in order for slips not to happen.
A good percentage of all trip accidents are caused by bad housekeeping. So improving housekeeping would eliminate a large number of accidents.
Good housekeeping doesn't cost money; it just takes a little personal effort. Do all staff at your workplace (workers, managers, cleaners, maintenance technicians etc.) have a 'See it, sort it!' attitude?
Cleaning affects every workplace, nowhere is exempt. It is not just a subject for cleaning managers and staff; everyone in the workplace has a job to do e.g. keeping your workspace clear and dealing with your own spillages.
The process of cleaning can create slip and trip hazards, especially for those entering the area being cleaned, such as the cleaners. For example, smooth floors left damp by a mop are likely to be extremely slippery and trailing wires from a vacuum or buffing machine can present a trip hazard.
An effective cleaning regime requires a good management system to help you identify problem areas, decide what to do, act on decisions made and check that the steps have been effective. Good communications are needed at all levels e.g. between equipment and chemical suppliers to ensure suitability of product for the type of contaminant and floor.
Effective training and supervision is essential to ensure cleaning is undertaken to the correct standard. Cleaners need to be informed of their duties and why the cleaning needs to be undertaken in a particular way or at a particular time. Lack of understanding can lead to inappropriate shortcuts.
Contamination is implicated in almost all slip accidents. Regular and effective cleaning to remove contamination helps reduce accidents.
People often slip on floors that have been left wet after cleaning. Stop pedestrian access to smooth wet floors by using barriers, locking doors, or cleaning in sections. Signs and cones only warn of a hazard, they do not prevent people from entering the area. If the spill is not visible they are usually ignored.
How people act and behave in their work environments can affect slips and trips.
If individuals have a physical problem that stop them from seeing, hearing or walking in a regular manner, it can increase the likelihood of an accident e.g. vision, balance, age, disability that affects gait and ability to walk. Factors in work, or created by the work activity can help stop or increase the risk of slips and trips.
Environmental issues can increase the risk of, or prevent slips and trips, so it is important to take them into consideration. But firstly, what does the term 'Environment' mean with regards to slips and trips? It means lighting (natural or otherwise), loud or unfamiliar noises, the weather, humidity, condensation etc.
The following gives an indication of how environment can affect slips and trips
Footwear can play an important part in preventing slips and trips.
Choosing the most suitable slip-resistant footwear for a particular environment / work activity can be difficult. Descriptions of slip-resistance given in suppliers' brochures range from 'improving the grip performance' to 'excellent multi-directional slip-resistance', but often do not describe the work environments for which footwear is, or is not, suitable.
Slip-resistant industrial footwear will normally have been tested for slip-resistance according to BS EN 13287:2004 - Personal protective equipment – Footwear – Test method for slip resistance, often using SATRA test method TM 144. Do not select footwear on the basis of brochure descriptions or laboratory test results alone. Footwear, which claims 'slip-resistance', may not perform well in your work environment. So how can you make the best choice?