Slips and trips
Though slipping and tripping may seem at the less serious end of health and safety risks, falling can have devastating consequences. They are one of the most common workplace accidents, and are among the highest causes of serious injury. Slips and trips cause an average of two workplace deaths each year. This is despite slip and trip hazards often being easy to address.
The things that cause people to slip or trip are as common as they are wide ranging. However, most slips and trips are caused by:
- poor lighting
- trailing cables
- unsuitable floor coverings
- uneven or damaged floor surfaces
- contaminated floor surfaces, for example liquid or grease
- poor housekeeping, for example tripping or falling over something left in a walk way.
What your employer should do
Your employer needs to think about the things in the workplace that could cause people to slip or trip, and decide whether they are doing enough to prevent them from occurring and causing harm. If they’re not, they need to take action. Often, this will be very easy, and may just involve tidying away boxes and cables, or making sure that spills are quickly cleaned up.
The easiest way for an employer to start addressing the things that cause people to slip or trip is to walk around the workplace and spot hazards. According to the HSE, most trips are caused by obstacles in walkways, with the remainder caused by uneven surfaces. Slips, on the other hand, can be caused by a number of issues, often in combination. Your employer should think about factors including people’s footwear; contamination of the floor, things like leaks or spills of liquid; and the type and condition of flooring.
The law governing slips and trips is largely the same as most other health and safety risks, with the principle legislation being the Health and Safety at Work Act and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, the latter requiring employers to carry out an assessment of the things that may cause people harm.
In addition, the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations require employers to ensure that floors are suitable (ie not too slippery), in good condition and free from obstructions, enabling people to able to move around safely.
What you can do
You can play a role in preventing slips and trips in the workplace.
- If you have an accident or a near miss, or notice something that is unsafe, report it to your employer. They should use this information to tackle the problem
- If you think of ways of preventing contamination, such as water or rubbish, from getting onto the floor, suggest them to your employer
- Ask your employer to mark slopes and changes of levels
- If you see a spillage, clean it up or arrange for it to be cleaned
- If you see items on the floor where someone could trip over them, remove them or arrange for them to be removed
- Report damaged flooring
- Report inadequate lighting
- Help keep the workplace tidy
- If you are given PPE, wear it and look after it. Report any faults or damage to your employer