Slip, trip and fall risk management guidance
Slips, trips and falls can happen at any time of year, but the risk of an incident increases over the winter months with the additional hazards of ice, rain and wet leaves.
These incidents are a common cause of workplace injury; during 2019 – 2020* they accounted for 29% of non-fatal injuries to employees. The effects of a slip, trip or fall may extend beyond the injured individual, and can affect work schedules, employee absences, client relationships and even your reputation. According to HSE information (Health & Safety at Work summary stats of Great Britain 2020), they cost employers over £500M per year and society over £800M per year. These sums are eye-watering for something that on the surface, seems quite insignificant.
A slip, trip or fall incident can have a lasting or damaging impact on your business, so it’s far better to mitigate these risks than manage any fallout after the event. We highly recommend being proactive and preventing these accidents from happening in the first place.
Working with our insurer partner Aviva, we have some guidance on how you can reduce the risk to your business from a slip, trip or fall event.
Let’s start with the three main areas to focus on:
Risk assessment – we recommend that you carry out a detailed risk assessment, to highlight all potential problem areas. This stage is vital to allow you to create and implement a comprehensive action plan.
Risk control – make sure you allocate ample time and resources to tackle the identified risks. Time spent here will help you to prevent slips, trips and falls from happening in the first place – and we all know that prevention is better than cure.
Risk profiling – profiling your risks will allow you to pinpoint the priority areas, so you can take the necessary steps to mitigate them effectively. Focus on the root causes of loss, to identify your risk hotspots.
Think about workspace layout
The design or layout of your premises or work areas can have a significant impact on the likelihood of a slip, trip or fall incident. In an ideal world you will be able to create the perfect workspace, eliminating your risk, but in most cases, you will have to work with existing layouts/spaces and make practical changes to mitigate your risk as much as possible.
Internally, any stairs, slopes, steps, flooring and walking surfaces should all be reviewed. You might need to install handrails, flashings, anti-slip coverings or fill in holes or level uneven surfaces. Wiring and cables are well recognized hazards, so ensure they are encased, protected and out of the way.
Depending on your business some areas of your workspace might be subject to regular floor contamination risk, from wet surfaces or open doors, such as warehousing, delivery areas or production areas. Drainage might need to be investigated, or regular cleaning cycles implemented.
Lighting can also play a part in the occurrence of a slip, trip or fall incident. If the lighting isn’t up to scratch, the danger may not be clearly visible. Ensure areas of potential identified hazard, are well lit.
Don’t forget to manage your external areas too. Footpaths, carparks, steps and stairs are common sites of slip and trip incidents. The winter months can cause additional issues with wet leaves, snow and ice, so a winter maintenance strategy would be prudent.
Establish or update internal procedures
If you have identified and implemented changes to incident hotspots, you’ll need to make sure that they remain safe moving forward. This may mean creating regular inspection regimes, or new housekeeping or cleaning procedures. You may even need to make changes to the way you operate.
Regular, documented inspections of all internal and external areas should include the identification of slip and trip hazards as standard, with suitable remedial action taken to rectify any problems.
A robust reporting system is also crucial to managing your risk from slips and trips. Your staff should know how to identify a potential risk hazard and how to report it before an incident can arise. If there’s a spill, or damage to surfaces, they can be cleared or rectified quickly.
These internal procedures should be shared with all employees and regularly revisited to ensure they remain front of mind. Posters, training sessions and online courses can all help to remind your employees about the prevention of slips and trips.
Wearing appropriate slip resistant footwear can also help to reduce slip accidents, where appropriate. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has developed the GRIP scheme to help reduce slip incidents where footwear is implicated as a contributory cause. The GRIP rating scheme uses rigorous, scientific testing to measure and grade the slip resistance of footwear, helping you to identify the right level of slip resistance for your employees. Choosing GRIP rated footwear may be a useful addition to your risk management strategy.
You can find out more about the GRIP rating scheme and which footwear has been rated here.
Create a comprehensive risk management strategy
Slips, trips and falls are just one area of risk that your business is likely to face. Managing all the risks that your business faces is important to ensure long term success and prosperity. Having appropriate risk management plans in place will bring peace of mind and protect you from potential claims which could result in financial costs, fines, loss of business, reduced customer confidence or reputational damage and more.
As a specialist, independent commercial broker, we can help you to protect your business against commercial risk. We work closely with our clients to identify the risks they face now, and anticipate those that may arise in the future. We can help you to develop a risk management strategy and support you with tailored advice and guidance on an appropriate insurance solution to provide the protection your business needs.
Talk to an experienced broker today on 01480 272727 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be pleased to help.
* HSE Enforcement stats in GB 2020
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