Slips, trips and falls are the most common cause of non-fatal major injuries in the service industries and account for over half of all reported injuries to members of the public.
Statistically, on average slips, trips and falls are:
- 33% of all reported major injuries
- 20% of over-3-day injuries to employees
- 2 fatalities per year
- 50% of all reported accidents to members of the public
- cost to employers £512 million per year
- cost to health service £133 million per year
- incalculable human cost
Under the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974
- Employers have to ensure their employees and anyone else who could be affected by their work (such as visitors, members of the public, patients etc.) are kept safe from harm and that their health is not affected. This means slip and trips risks must be controlled to ensure people do not slip, trip and fall
- Employees must use any safety equipment provided and must not cause danger to themselves or others.
- Manufacturers and suppliers have a duty to ensure that their products are safe. They must also provide information about appropriate use.
The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 , build on the requirements of the Act and include duties on employers to assess risks (including slip and trip risks) and where necessary take action to safeguard health and safety.
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 , require floors to be suitable for the workplace and work activity, kept in good condition and kept free from obstructions. You must ensure that people can move around safely.
How do I prevent slips & trips?
For slip and trip risks to be adequately controlled you need to undertake a risk assessment. To assess the risk download a copy of our checklist (PDF , 8KB). As with other health and safety topics there is a hierarchy of controls which are listed below:
Prevent the contamination from getting on the floor.
Remember a dry, clean floor is rarely a slip risk.
- Review work activities - contamination comes in various forms; fluids, swarf, sawdust, food and drink, polythene, cardboard. It is usually created by the work activity, so an assessment of the activity and way in which people work is essential if it is to be stopped from getting on to the floor.
- Design out problems - Good design can also prevent contamination from getting onto the floor, e.g. fit canopies over entrances, and fix leaking machines.
Control the contamination
If you can't stop it, can you control it?
- Review work activities - again looking at the way in which people work, e.g. do they clean up after themselves? Are they using bins?
- Employee & employer attitude - A positive attitude toward slips and trips is needed. When it comes to contamination and housekeeping, everyone needs to have a see it sort it mentality, rather than a leave it to someone else attitude.
- Suitable and timely cleaning regimes - Cleaning systems play a big part of contamination control, the right system, at the right time to be carried out safely. A good floor that is allowed to become engrained with contamination will soon turn into a slip risk.
- Control contamination - There are measures that can be put into place to help control contamination and to stop it from spreading into other areas of the workplace e.g. fit drip trays under machines and racking; use mats at entrances.
Eliminate adverse environmental conditions
Look for conditions that could affect the way a person behaves or prevent them from realizing where the hazards are?
- Check lighting is suitable - it does not matter how good the floor is, if you can't see where you are going there is always the risk that someone might slip and fall.
- Is condensation a problem - If the floor were smooth, only a tiny amount of liquid would be sufficient to cause a slip risk, so look out for condensation, which could coat the floor, or humidity which would prevent the floor from fully drying out.
- Ice on floors - during winter months, or where there are cold stores/freezers, ice may be a problem
- Rainwater able to enter buildings - can you fit canopies over doors? Fix leaking roofs. Provide suitable matting at entrances for people to dry feet thoroughly.
Improve floor conditions
- What tasks are taking place? - What tasks might compromise the ability to walk safely? Is there a need to carry, lift, push or pull loads? Are people rushing about? Do they have hands free to hold on to hand rails? Are they being distracted? Scrutinize the work activities and process flow to see if it can be handled better. Don't forget about vulnerable people, that are anyone who may have a poor knowledge of the risks or poor health and agility? What about visitors or members of the public?
- Can floor roughness be improved? - Firstly through better cleaning systems and lastly through etching or other roughness enhancing techniques. Remember etching and other techniques won't work on all floors, it may shorten the life of the floor and will probably need to be repeated.
- Replace the floor - Replacing the floor should in most instances is a last course of action, but in others might be the only course of action.
The Role of Manufactures and Suppliers of Footwear
Selection and use of the most appropriate footwear for the work environment can have a dramatic effect on reducing accidents. If there is still a residual slip risk after slip controls have been put into place, footwear with slip-resistant properties have an important part to play in further reducing the risk.
There are several case studies which show how slip-resistant footwear has helped to reduce accidents in different environments. Manufacturers and suppliers have a key role in ensuring that suitable products are available and that companies have the information to enable them to make the right choice.
Industrial footwear standards
It is essential that procurers of footwear can be sure that the chosen type will live up to the product description. Furthermore, manufacturers and suppliers have a legal duty to provide accurate descriptions of their products. The safety features of footwear are tested according to a set of European test standards written into EN ISO 20344:2004.
The performance specifications are given in an associated set of standards, namely:
- EN ISO20345:2004 for safety footwear
- EN ISO20346:2004 for protective footwear
- EN ISO20347:2004 for occupational footwear
Footwear products once tested and certified are stamped with the CE mark. The manufacturer also provides user information indicating the applications for which the footwear is, or is not, suitable.
At present, slip resistance is not included in the EN standards 20344/5/6 or 7. However, as indicated in the PPE footwear. As such, slip resistance performance should be tested using European standard BS EN ISO 13287:2004 - Personal protective equipment - Footwear - Test method for slip resistance.
If industrial footwear is CE marked and claimed to be slip-resistant it must have been tested and the coefficient of friction (CoF) test values must be available. CoF data is not normally given in catalogues, but it must be included in the user instructions and it can be requested from the supplier. It may also be appropriate to request additional test data from the supplier. It may also be appropriate to request additional test data from the supplier - for instance CoF values on test surfaces specific to the end use. Some footwear which claims general slip resistance may not perform well in particular demanding conditions - no one type of footwear will be ideal in all situations.
Help for purchasers of footwear
Choosing the most suitable slip-resistant footwear for a particular environment/work activity can be problematic. Descriptions of slip resistance given in brochures include terminology ranging from 'improving the grip performance' to 'excellent multi-directional slip resistance'. Often, the brochures do not describe the work environments for which the footwear are, or are not, suitable. Suppliers have an important role in advising companies wishing to purchase slip-resistant footwear, especially if they are considering switching from a type of footwear they are familiar with to something new.
Footwear selection has to take account of a number of factors, such as comfort, durability and any additional safety features required, such as steel mid-sole. The final choice may have to be a compromise. Therefore it is advisable not to select footwear on the basis of brochure descriptions or laboratory test results alone. Suppliers can assist purchasers in making the right choice by facilitating field trials of footwear.
- Walkways - Check for suitable walkways? Are they in the right place, are they being used, are they available for use? What tasks are taking place on the walkway is the task preventing the employee from seeing where they are going?
- Housekeeping - It is not just good enough to have a walkway, it must be kept clear, no trailing wires, no obstructions. Employees and cleaners need to have a see it, sort it attitude to ensure these and other work areas are kept clear. Is the cleaning regime effective? Are there enough bins, storage facilities etc.?
- Design and maintenance - is the floor suitable for the environment, fitted correctly and properly maintained. Are the walkways wide enough and level. Are stairs suitable, are risers consistent, are nosings highlighted where necessary, are usable handrails available. Environmental factors also fall into this category, is the lighting good enough for employees to see hazards, what about distractions that might prevent them from seeing where they are going.
It is essential when assessing slip and trip risks within the business all of the above is taken into account.
Further information can be found on either:-
- from South Holland District Council, Safety and Environment Team, 01775 761161