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Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls in the Workplace

Some of the most common hazards in the workplace are slips, trips and falls.  Whilst in the most serious situations, death can occur, many employees can suffer fractures, sprains, strains, bruising and other types of injuries.

Slips in the workplace can occur when there is a spill of liquid, or there is very little traction with the footwear being worn by employees.

Some causes include:-

  • Wet spills (e.g., water, mud, grease, oil, food, blood, etc.)
  • Dry product spills (e.g., powder, dust, wood chips, granules, plastic wraps)
  • Weather hazards (e.g., rain, ice, snow)
  • Loose, carpets, mats and rugs
  • Concrete, ceramic tile, or marble floors
  • Newly waxed floors
  • Sloped or uneven walking surfaces
  • Floors without skid- or slip-resistant surfaces
  • Metal surfaces

Trips can occur when an employee’s foot comes into contact with an item, ie., an item left on the floor or in walk space or an uneven ground or torn carpet.

Some causes include:-

  • Clutter left in walkways
  • Poor lighting
  • Damaged or wrinkled carpets or mats
  • Uncovered cables, wires, hoses, and extension cords
  • Open drawers, cabinets, doors, etc.
  • Uneven walkways
  • Unmarked steps or ramps
  • Missing floor tiles and bricks
  • Damaged steps

Falls can occur from an employee overbalancing on the same level surface or if an employee is working at a different level ie., down stairs or from a ladder.

 

Some causes include:-

  • Improper use of a ladder
  • Ledges without proper railing
  • Unprotected edges
  • Misused fall protection equipment
  • Not using handrail when climbing/descending stairs

 

Fortunately, most slip, trip, and fall incidents are avoidable. By undertaking risk assessments, repairing any damaged flooring, and practising good housekeeping companies can prevent these incidents from happening in their workplaces.

 

Some examples of how to minimise risks associated with slips, trips and falls include:-

  • Ensure walkways are free from clutter
  • Ensure cables and extension cords are covered or at least taped down when across pedestrian areas
  • Provide adequate lighting in stairwells and in locations where dimly lit areas prevent employees from seeing their path clearly
  • Install safety signs ie., caution wet floor
  • Clean spills immediately
  • Ensure proper footwear is worn at all times
  • Ensure any torn carpet or damaged flooring is repaired or at least signed to prevent trips

 

As an employer, you are obligated under the Occupational Health and Safety Act to provide a workplace that is free from risk to the health and safety of your employees so far as is reasonably practicable. 

Undertaking regular risk assessments and implementing safe work practices will help to minimise risk of injuries to your employees.

For assistance with minimising your risk or any support you require regarding any HR matter, please contact the team at HR Advice Online at [email protected] or on 1300 720 004.

 

Information in HR Advice Online guides and blog posts is meant purely for educational discussion of human resources issues. It contains only general information about human resources matters and due to factors, such as government legislation changes, may not be up to date at the time of reading. It is not legal advice and should not be treated as such.

 

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