We’ve all done it at some time or another; slipped on some wet flooring or stubbed a toe. Most of these accidents aren’t important and we think nothing of them, but in health and safety terms, slips, trips and falls are deadly serious. They caused over 40 fatalities in 2010-11, and are responsible for over half the major workplace accidents in the UK.
Slip and trip prevention
Preventing slips and trips is easier than you might think. In essence, you need to remove things that people can slip or trip on, or if this isn’t possible, make sure they are clearly visible. This means ensuring cables don’t cross walkways, signposting wet floors and marking steps with paint or tape. It’s also important to check surfaces are in good repair. Paving that is uneven or cracked can be particularly dangerous. Other hazards to look out for include:
• Highly polished floors
• Ice and snow
• Loose carpets
• Chair legs and open drawers
If you see this sort of hazard, it may be possible to sort it out yourself, but if not you should make it as safe as possible and get whoever is in charge of health and safety to fix it.
While slips and trips are frightening, it is falling that causes injury. Falls are more likely and serious as you grow older, and those from higher up can be extremely dangerous. In some cases preventing falls is as simple as not working at height. If the same job (or part of it) can be done on the ground, this is much safer. However, this may not be possible. If it is necessary to work high off the ground, on a roof for example, using properly maintained ladders or platforms, harnesses, ropes and other safety equipment makes a big difference.
A lot of falls happen in everyday situations, with stairs a major hazard. Poor lighting, loose (or no) handrails and clutter left on the steps can all cause serious accidents.
For employers, the prevention of slips, trips and falls is important to keep staff and the public safe, but is also a legal requirement. These sorts of accidents are not usually deemed to be the fault of the person who had the accident, and are often avoidable. Employers can be held accountable if their health and safety practices aren’t up to scratch.
The easiest way to guarantee the prevention of slips, trips and falls in the workplace is to make sure all staff have adequate training. While this may sound complicated, it’s no longer necessary to hire a speaker or attend classes off-site. Online and computer-based training can often be more effective, affordable and practical.
Online health and safety courses are delivered either over the internet or on CD-ROM, and can be accessed from any PC. This means staff can complete the training in their own time, so it isn’t necessary to get everyone together. The software also records who has completed the training.