Slip and trip accidents can happen anywhere. They are often seen as trivial and ‘just one of those things’, but most slip and trip accidents can be avoided.
Slips and trips are a serious problem in the warehousing and storage industry. They are responsible for a third of major injuries and a fifth of over-3-day absences.
The cost to the individual from these accidents is great; there is the pain from injury, reduced quality of life, worry and stress. The cost to employers is also high, with key staff absent, increased insurance costs, production delays, fines and perhaps loss of image.
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, place duties on employers to ensure that the workplace is safe and maintained in good order.
Floors and traffic routes should:
be suitable for the purpose for which they are used;
be kept free from holes and unnecessary slopes;
not be uneven or slippery to any extent that could cause someone to slip, trip or fall;
have effective drainage where necessary;
be kept free from obstructions, articles or substances which could cause
someone to slip, trip or fall;
have suitable and sufficient lighting.
These Regulations and the accompanying Code of Practice also have requirements for housekeeping and maintenance:
the workplace should be kept sufficiently clean;
where a spillage does occur (and it is a slipping hazard) immediate steps
should be taken to deal with it;
waste materials should not be allowed to accumulate in the workplace except in suitable receptacles;
the workplace, equipment, devices and systems should be maintained; and
staircases should have at least one handrail, or two handrails if there is a particular risk of falling.
Trips account for the majority of all reported slip and trip injuries in the storage and warehousing industry. Objects on the floor or uneven surfaces normally cause them.
Trip hazards include:
banded strapping loops;
holes, cracks and uneven outdoor surfaces;
changes in surface level such as ramps, steps and stairs;
cables across walking areas;
loose floorboards, loose tiles and loose or worn mats and carpets;
protruding forks from fork-lift trucks;
bumps, ridges and protruding nails etc;
low wall and floor fixtures such as door catches and door stops;
electrical and telephone socket outlets.
Trips are generally prevented by good housekeeping. If you come across anything you think might cause a trip, sort it out immediately if possible. Otherwise make your colleagues aware and report if to your supervisor.
Slips rarely happen on clean and dry floors. They occur because something gets between the shoe sole and floor and stops them from making good contact, effectively acting like a lubricant. So most slip accidents occur because the floor is wet or contaminated.
Slip hazards include:
waste material such as shrink or stretch wrap or label backing;
spills and splashes of liquids and solids;
wet floors after cleaning;
loose mats on polished floors;
rain, sleet and snow;
change from a wet to a dry surface where footwear is still wet;
unsuitable floor surface or covering;
If you come across any of these, make your colleagues aware and report it to your supervisor.
Slips can be prevented by keeping floors clean and dry. This can be done by:
checking goods for leaks;
reporting and dealing with leaking goods;
checking plant, equipment and the work environment (including the building) and reporting any processes or plant which may cause floors to become slippery;
taking extra care not to transfer water, mud of other contamination from outdoors to indoors by wiping your feet or changing footwear.
Factors that increase risk of slips and trips include:
poor organisation of walkways;
badly placed mirrors or reflections from glazing;
poor or unsuitable lighting;
inappropriate cleaning regime and poor choice of cleaning materials;
carrying, pushing or pulling a load;
distractions and fatigue.
If you spot a problem or think things can be improved, tell your supervisor.
Make sure you wear the footwear that you have been issued with while at work. Make sure it is the right size and fastened correctly.
If you find certain areas of the workplace, or certain tasks slippery, your footwear might need to be changed. Make your supervisor aware of this immediately.