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The biggest ‘slip, trip and fall’ hazard is complacency

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The biggest ‘slip, trip and fall’ hazard is complacency

Slips, trips and falls are in the news. As I write this, it’s National Fall Prevention Awareness Week in the US.

In the UK meanwhile, the NHS has just revealed that it paid out £35 million in compensation last year, with a large proportion going to slip, trip and fall related accidents in its hospitals.

The HSE’s statistics for 2016/17 ranked slips, trips and falls as the most common cause of workplace injuries, making up 29% of the 609,000 reported accidents. They are united by the damage they can do in almost any setting: in hospitals, elderly and injured people are particularly vulnerable. On a building site, you run the risk of tripping while at height; in a factory or production environment, meanwhile, you risk stumbling into active machinery. (Read More)

These figures are down to some complacency and oversights on the part of employers, who need to be more mindful of trip hazards. The innocuous nature of a trip or stumble can mean that trip hazards are overlooked in risk assessments, while changing environments are also to blame. A trailing cable or bunched carpet is something that could occur on any given day, and not raise too many alarm bells.

However, workers can be equally to blame for this lack of awareness. The tendency ingrained in many of us is to write off a slip or trip as personal clumsiness, whether or not it results in personal injury. If we regain our balance, we can sometimes laugh it off as a close call. If we fall or stagger and receive a minor scrape or cut, we can be embarrassed to report the issue, feeling it was more down to a lapse in concentration or poor balance than a fault in the terrain.

This culture of apportioning blame on ourselves - and avoiding the trouble of reporting what we perceive as a ‘minor issue’ - needs to end. Slips, trips and falls need to graduate from a personal pratfall to a serious consequence of health & safety oversights. Until this culture changes, those statistics - and fines - will stay stubbornly high.

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