What Does The Law Say About Trips And Falls In The Workplace?
The Health and Safety Executive brought The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HSW Act) requires employers to ensure the workplace welfare of all employees and anyone who may be affected by their work, so far as is reasonably practicable.
Employees also have a duty not to put themselves or others in danger in the work environment and must use any safety equipment. Under current legislation, employees are also responsible for ensuring management is aware of any personal conditions that may increase their risks of slips, trips and falls in the workplace.
Consequences for the individual who slips and falls in the workplace may include:
- Workplace injury.
- Reduced quality of life
- Worry and stress
- Time off work/financial impact
Consequences for the employer for employees who falls in the workplace can include:
- Insured costs (injury, ill health, damage)
- Operational cost
- Production delays
- Overtime working
- Temporary labour and training
- Investigation time
- Damage to reputation and image
Slips, trips and falls in the workplace can significantly impact a business; each year, fall accidents in the workplace have resulted in an estimated 1.5 million working days lost.
(Based on a three-year-pooled average from 2011/12 to 2013/14)
Steps for reducing slips, trips, and falls in the workplace?
All employers are responsible for reducing slips, trips, and falls in the workplace.
The first step (forgive the pun) is undertaking a risk assessment.
Step 1 – Look for hazards that may lead to slips and trips in the workplace, such as uneven floors, trailing cables and sometimes slippery areas due to spillages. Ensure that this includes outdoor areas.
Step 2 – Determine who might get harmed and who enters the workplace. Are they at risk of workplace injury? Do you have any control over them? Remember that older employees and people with disabilities may be at particular risk.
Step 3 – Consider the risks! Are the precautions already taken adequately dealing with the risks?
Step 4 – Record your findings if you have five or more employees.
Step 5 – Regularly review the assessment. If any significant changes occur, ensure that existing precautions and management arrangements are still adequate to deal with the risks.
How do slip accidents in the workplace happen?
RIDDOR statistics for 2020/2021 show that 33% of falls happen on the same level resulting from slip and trip accidents in the workplace. They are one of the most common entries in the Accident Book and reportable under RIDDOR.
Slips happen where there is too little friction or traction between the footwear and the walking surface. Common slip hazards that are likely to cause an accident at work leading to falling injuries include:
- Wet or oily surfaces
- Unsuitable floor coverings
- Occasional spills
- Weather hazards
- Loose, unanchored rugs or mats
- Flooring or other walking surfaces that do not have the same degree of traction in all areas
How does a trip accident at work happen?
A trip accident at work happens when your foot/feet collide (strikes, hit) an object causing a loss of balance and eventually tripping and falling. Common tripping hazards causing workers tripping leading to workplace health issues and injuries include:
- Obstructed view
- Poor lighting
- Clutter in your way
- Wrinkled carpeting
- Uncovered cables
- Bottom drawers not being closed
- Uneven (steps, thresholds) walking surfaces
What measures help in preventing slips, trips, and falls in the workplace?
Preventing slips, trips, and falls in the workplace can be achieved by a focus on following some basic procedures and commonsense guidelines to avoid any employee workplace injury. Both slips and trips result from some kind of unintended or unexpected change in the contact between the feet and the ground or walking surface. This shows that good housekeeping, quality of walking surfaces (flooring), selection of proper footwear, and appropriate walking pace are critical for preventing fall accidents.
Good Housekeeping Is The Key To Preventing Slips and Trips at Work.
Good housekeeping and risk assessment is the first and the most important (fundamental) stage in reducing risk and preventing slips and trips at work that could lead to a fall or an employee injury at work. Employer responsibilities should be taken extremely seriously. These responsibilities include but are not limited to these common slip examples:
- Cleaning all wet spills immediately
- Marking spills and wet areas
- Mopping or sweeping debris from floors
- Removing obstacles from walkways and always keeping them free of clutter
- Securing (tacking, taping, etc.) mats, rugs and carpets that do not lay flat
- Always closing file cabinets or storage drawers
- Covering cables that cross walkways
- Keeping working areas and walkways well lit
- Replacing used light bulbs and faulty switches
With poor housekeeping practices and an environment full of workplace health risk, any other measures to prevent slips, such as installing sophisticated flooring, suitable footwear or training on walking techniques and safe falling from avoiding accidents in the workplace, will never be fully effective.
Other Areas Considered For Slip and Fall Prevention in the Workplace
In view of slip and fall prevention in the workplace, you must carefully consider the work area access, exits and entrances, and stairs. Obstructions and any objects lying around can easily go unnoticed and cause a slip or trip hazard. The employer should have procedures to keep floors and work areas tidy and free from trip hazards to prevent slips and falls. If obstacles cannot be removed, warn people using signs or barriers.
Slips, Trips, and Falls in the Workplace FAQs
As the employer, responsibility for employee injury at work falls on who?
The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 states that, as an employer, you have a duty of care towards all staff members within your company. You must provide them with a safe working environment. You must minimise all risks within the work area and have preventative measures to keep the chances of accidents in the workplace and workplace injury low.
Dependent upon your business’s industry, you need to provide appropriate safety measures, training and equipment to keep your employees safe at work. If a worker slips and falls in the workplace and you get found negligent, you risk being held responsible for the workers’ injuries and could get prosecuted. Employer responsibilities for injured workers can vary greatly, depending on where any blame lies, so getting professional advice is recommended.
How can I prevent fall injuries in the workplace?
According to the Labour Force Survey from 2019/2020, 693,000 workers sustained injuries from falls, and 65,427 were reported to RIDDOR. As you can see, these are some big numbers, but you can take some simple measures in the workplace to reduce the risk of an accident at work. Poor housekeeping leads to many incidents, but you can prevent falls and fall injuries in the workplace by inspecting work surfaces, checking to ensure you need to work at height, and using all necessary H&S for the job.