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Don’t Let Simple Accidents Damage Your People - Or Your Business

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jan 18 18Don’t Let Simple Accidents Damage Your People - Or Your Business

Accidents involving slips, trips and falls on the level happen in seconds but can leave a legacy of serious injury and business damage.

Just as the causes of these incidents are often simple, so too are many of the solutions. If the right solutions are chosen, businesses will benefit from fewer accidents, with lower associated costs and less unwanted attention from the enforcement authorities. (Read More)

It’s therefore in any business’ interest to focus on slip, trip and fall prevention.

The HSE estimate that slips, trips and falls on the level account for 40% of all reported major injuries each year. Roughly 70,000 non-fatal injuries to employees were reported last year, so around 28,000 serious injuries are thought to have arisen just from slips, trips and falls. This equates to over 100 each working day.

For Manufacturing, HSE statistics from 2012 - 2017 show that slips, trips and falls on the same level account for 22% of non-fatal injuries. Typical causes include poor housekeeping, spillages of liquids, oils etc, and poor cleaning practices that could leave pedestrian walkways slippery.

Solutions needn’t be hugely expensive and unworkable, but it may take a little thought and planning before the right solution is reached. Here are some of the more common causes of slips, trips and falls, with an outline of some potential solutions.

Contamination - a system should be in place to clean up spills without undue delay; the longer a spill remains uncleaned, the greater the risk of a slip. Having spill kits available where spillages are likely can be useful, provided staff are trained in how to clean up spills and dispose of the waste safely;

Obstructions - good housekeeping is a simple, low cost measure. It also helps to control fire risks as well as creating the appearance of a more orderly working environment. Take a tour around your workplace and think about how things are stored and whether items really should be in walkways etc;

Cleaning - think about use of detergents. Have you diluted properly? Use of neat detergent may create slippery surfaces that could be easily avoided. Is it necessary to clean the whole floor, or would spot cleaning achieve the same result? If ‘wet’ cleaning techniques are used, be sure to dry mop then mark the area with a sign so that people are aware that the floor is still wet - especially if lighting is poor;

Floor materials - surfaces vary in a factory environment, so attention to the flooring and appropriate surface coatings is important. The HSE have created a Slip Assessment Tool, where the type of floor material is considered alongside other issues;

Footwear - mandate the wearing of specific types of footwear in areas like warehouses and on the factory floor. It is less easy to control what is worn by visitors or office staff, although it might be possible to give advice. More effective would be to control the environment through effective housekeeping to reduce the impact of inappropriate footwear;

Use - consider what the area will be used for. If there will be a mix of pedestrian and vehicle traffic, will the flooring withstand vehicular movement or will it deteriorate? Check to ensure that markings remain clear; repaint them as necessary, or use a surface coating product that clearly shows the pedestrian route as a block of colour. If the surface deteriorates, reinstate as soon as possible;

Behaviour - consider how traffic routes might be used; safe work procedures can help here. Have staff taken to walking along while looking at smartphones or even laptops? Do forklift drivers regularly exceed the speed limit? Simple rules and effective supervision should help reduce the risks arising from these practices.

In the time taken to read this article, two people have sustained serious injuries from slips, trips and falls at work. This is amazing when we think how easy these are to prevent. I think you’ll agree that none of the solutions suggested above are difficult and few have major cost implications. Paying attention to each of these factors can bring about a reduced risk of slips and trips, with lower levels of injury and reduced costs associated with such accidents.

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