Falls, slips and trips in the workplace remain a significant cause of injury to employees. In fact, almost one in five (18%) of non-fatal injuries in the workplace are caused by slips, trips and falls – this statistic increases to more than a quarter (27.4%) in the private sector.
The impact of these workplace injuries can vary, ranging from cuts and bruises to broken bones to fatal head injuries. There are, however, ways that these incidents can be prevented with simple building maintenance and efficient training.
With this in mind, we have spoken to David Chapman, founder of leading commercial mat distributor, Ultimate Mats, who has provided his top tips on how employers can provide key control measures that help to prevent slips, trips and falls in the workplace.
1. Wet or slippery surfaces
Though it may seem obvious, one of the main reasons slips, trips and falls happen in the workplace is the result of wet floors. This can happen for a number of reasons, including bad weather like rain and snow that can make the ground slippery, as well as spillages from other substances such as coffee, tea, water or cleaning products.
It is therefore important that offices and workspaces are adequately equipped to deal with these kinds of hazards, especially if work within the building requires going outside on a frequent basis. This could be something as simple as providing a waterhog mat in the entryway to the building, so that employees and workers can dry their feet on their way in, ultimately reducing the chances of bringing water further into the building.
2. Dusty floors
Dusty floors can also cause slips, trips and falls, as the surface build up can prevent shoes from gripping to the floor. As few as 150 people entering your building can track in a pound of dirt in 5 days. That’s why it’s important to ensure that floors are swept and mopped to prevent a layer of dust from forming on the surface.
Another solution to prevent injury caused by dust on the floor, is by installing a mat at the entrance of the building. You can capture as much as 85–95% of contaminants that enter your building with a great entry mat, that could reduce your dust by up to 78%.
3. Poor lighting
Another reason slips and falls often happen in the workplace, is a result of having broken or poorly fitted lighting. While we are often familiar with our working environment, insufficient lighting can still cause us to misjudge our surroundings, resulting in injury from stepping or bumping into things by accident.
So if you notice a broken bulb or you believe lighting to be insufficient, this should be fixed immediately, to prevent workers from sustaining any injuries as a result. After all, while we often rely on our four senses to navigate around familiar settings, poor lighting can upset muscle memory and our perception of things that we know well.
4. Insufficient training
Not providing employees with sufficient training is also another common reason as to why people sustain injury, fall or trip in the workplace. Wherever there is a possibility for slips or trips to occur, proper training is required under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
This training can ensure that people are working in a manner that is not only safe, but protects them from any avoidable accidents in the first place!
5. Unsuitable floor coverings or lack of floor management
While slippery flooring in bathrooms or kitchen areas of the workplace can be a common reason as to why injuries are sustained, uneven flooring or floor coverings that are insufficient can often cause you to lose your footing when moving around a building.
While it is important to have a professional cleaner around to wipe up serious liquid spills, investment in maintenance of floors is just as important so that accidental trips and falls can be prevented. One way of doing this is by investing in high quality, long durable mats that are less likely to curl or wear away with age and become a hazard.
If you’re still wondering what the main causes of trips and falls in the workplace are, you might want to consider the environment that you and your employees work in. Are there obstructions such as ladders, trash on the ground or wires trailing across walkways that could easily trip someone up?
To prevent any kind of falls such as this occurring, it is important to make sure that floors and walkways are clear of any kind of obstruction. That means removing any cords that are trailing along pathways, ensuring that cabinets and drawers are closed after their use and installing any further equipment needed that will ensure a safer and more efficient workplace.