Slips and trips are the most common cause of injury at work. On average, they cause 40 per cent of all reported major injuries and can also lead to other types of serious accidents, for example falls from height. Slips and trips are also the most reported injury to members of the public.
The following information is taken from the publication 'Preventing slips and trips at work' by the HSE (Health and Safety Executive)
What the law says
The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSW Act) requires employers to ensure the health and safety of all employees and anyone who may be affected by their work, so far as is reasonably practicable. this includes taking steps to control slip and trip risks.
Employees have a duty not to put themselves or others in danger, and must use any safety equipment provided.
The Management of Health and Safety at work Regulations 1999 require employers to assess risks (including slip and trip risks) and, where necessary, take action to address them.
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 require floors to be suitable, in good condition and free from obstructions. People should be able to move around safely.
What can employers do to prevent slips and trips?
You must manage the health and safety risks in your workplace. To do this you need to decide whether you are doing enough to prevent harm. This process is known as a risk assessment and it is something you are required by law to carry out.
A risk assessment is not about creating huge amounts of paperwork, but rather about taking sensible measure to control the risks in your workplace, for example using doormats to stop rainwater being tracked in and making the floor slippery.
You are probably already taking steps to protect your employees, but your risk assessment will tell you whether you should be doing more. Consider what risks in your workplace may lead to slip or trip injuries, and decide what suitable and effective control measures will prevent these types of accidents.
You then need to put these control measures into practice. Concentrate on the real risks - those that are most likely to cause harm. Think about how accidents could happen and who might be harmed. You can do this by:
asking your employees what they think the hazards are, as they may notice things that are not obvious to you and may have some good ideas on how to control the risks;
using the hazard-spotting checklist and slips and trips mapping tool to help you identify problem areas.
referring to the 'Practical steps to prevent slips and trips accidents' section below.
In many instances, straightforward measures can readily control risks, for example ensuring spillages are cleaned up promptly so people do not slip.
Make a record of your significant findings and what you have in place to prevent them. If you have fewer than five employees you don't have to write anything down but it is good practice to keep a record.
Few workplaces stay the same, so it makes sense to review what you are doing on an ongoing basis.