I was recently asked to give advice regarding someone who had had a fall at work. The injured party’s job is mainly administration but they had had to go out of the building to work on that particular day. It had been raining and at the end of their shift returned to deliver equipment before going home. As they walked downstairs to the locker room they slipped and fell and ended up in hospital having an operation to reattach their elbow with a long screw. (Ouch!)
The accident meant they couldn’t work for a couple of months or drive and were in a lot of pain. They had to undergo physiotherapy and it is likely they will suffer from arthritis in that arm in the future. (They are now in their 30’s)
This accident will have financial implications for the employer. It is likely to result in a visit from the enforcing agency (because slips are one of the main causes of accidents) resulting in service of improvement notices, a civil injury compensation claim and other associated costs (many of which cannot be insured against).
According to the HSE, Slips, trips and falls made up more than half of major injuries last year and almost a 1/3rd of over 3 day injuries. 12% of these involved stairs.
This accident could have been prevented easily:
Could it happen in your business?
Do you have a slip/trip/fall risk assessment in place?
Have you considered how you can prevent water / snow or other products (sand / hair / grease) causing slip hazards in the business?
Do any of these sound familiar?
• There was no risk assessment that covered this situation although many people used the stairs (24/7) and it was highly likely that they would become wet if it was raining
Ensure risk assessments are carried out, documented and the information is provided to every employee. Management should monitor potential hazards to ensure controls are working
• An entrance mat to the building was too small, not fixed in place and did not cover the area leading downstairs. (There was also another set of steps leading up from the lobby)
Use entrance mat wells or mats fixed to the floor (large enough to take a few steps on)
• Rain could be carried into the building on clothing, footwear or equipment (contaminating the stairs alongside the entrance hall)
Provide umbrella stands, coat racks and equipment lockers near entrance doorways if possible, or use another method to prevent water being carried further into the building and contaminating potentially slippery floors
• The flooring material was inherently slippery when wet and there was no non-slip material or nosings on the steps
Ensure steps are non slip and have visible and secure nosings. Some flooring materials may need changing or treating to increase the slip resistance (this is especially important if the likelihood of slipping is high)
• There was no system of checking for wet floors or method of drying them if found
Ensure everyone is made aware of their responsibility to themselves and others. Have a ‘see it, sort it’ policy and provide suitable materials for drying floors if there is no alternative for preventing them getting wet.