The most common injuries at work come from slips, trips and falls according to the Health and Safety Executive. These injuries “cost employers over £512m per year”. It is clearly an owners or employer’s responsibility to reduce the risk to visitors and staff so what do you need to know?
Correct design of surfaces and the working environment can be a big factor in mitigating and managing risks for the long term. Make sure that when new build or refurbishment is planned that creating low risk environments is one of the top priorities of the designers a long with functional and aesthetic design requirements.
Falls Risk Assessment
You may not have the luxury of managing an environment that is designed with risk reduction in mind, so identifying the risks in your work space is the next key step. The outcome will be to demonstrate that you are doing enough to prevent harm.
Consider what risks in your environment may lead to slip or trip injuries, and decide what suitable and effective control measures will prevent these types of accidents. Concentrate on the real risks – those that are most likely to cause harm. Think about how accidents might happen and who might be harmed.
This can be done by:
- Asking your employees what they think the hazards are, often they notice things that are not obvious to more casual observers and they may have some ideas on how to control the risks;
- Using the hazard-spotting checklist and slips and trips mapping tool (see below) to help you identify problem areas
- Put control measures into practice
The main causes of slips, trips and falls in the workplace are:
- uneven floor surfaces
- unsuitable floor coverings
- wet floors (leaks, cleaning or spillages)
- changes in levels
- trailing cables
- poor lighting
- poor housekeeping
Follow this easy 5-step Falls Risk Assessment process (recommended by the Health and Safety Executive) to take control of slips trips and falls
- 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.
- Decide who might be harmed and how. Who comes into the workplace? Are they at risk? Are some groups more at risk than others?
- 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?
- Record your findings if you have five or more employees.
- Regularly review the assessment. If any significant changes take place, make sure that precautions are still adequate to deal with the risks.