A few workplace accidents per year sounds like par for the course — they ‘just happen.’ But what’s measured can improve, and current research shows slips and trips are costing us millions in lost working time.
Through effective HR management, you can reduce the number of slips and trips at work. And there are proven methods just waiting for you to adopt them.
The cost of slips and trips at work
Need some motivation to prevent accidents in your workplace? It could make a big difference to your organisation’s bottom line.
Recent Health and Safety Executive data says slips and trips cost employers £512 million per year in lost productivity, employee claims and other costs.
Slips and trips hit attendance too. Work-related accidents are a top cause of absence for 15% of companies with manual workers. For non-manual workers, it’s still a hefty 5% (CIPD Absence Management Survey, 2015).
And let’s not forget the human cost. Over a third of all major injuries happen in the workplace, and there are two fatalities per year (HSE, 2013).
Employers’ legal responsibility for slips & trips at work
Costs aside, you also have a legal responsibility to manage slips and trips in the workplace.
- The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires organisations to ensure the health and safety of all employees and anyone affected by their work. You must reduce risk as far as reasonably practicable in terms of cost and effort.
- Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, you must assess slip and trip risks and take necessary action to address them.
- The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 require the condition and cleanliness of workplace floors to allow people to move around safely.
You can meet these requirements by addressing slips and trips directly, and by promoting an overall culture of safety in the workplace.
How to prevent slips and trips in the workplace
Slips and trips happen for many different reasons. Start by identifying the biggest risks in your workplace, so you can address them.
The most common causes of slips include:
- Cleaning, i.e. wet floors — Consider cleaning out of work hours, leave floors dry, and use warning signs.
- Contamination, such as by rain, oil or dust — Remove the contaminant, identify the source, and prevent future issues.
- Environment, including light and weather — Ensure poor light, ice, and other factors don’t lead to slips.
- Footwear — The cost of accidents may be greater than the cost of providing slip-resistant footwear for workers.
When managing trips, there are three key workplace elements to consider:
- Walkways — Make sure walkways are safe, unobstructed and suitable for the tasks they’re used for.
- Housekeeping — Promote a ‘see it, sort it’ attitude among employees to ensure walkways and other work areas are kept clear.
- Design and maintenance — Make sure flooring, lighting, stairs and walkways are fit for purpose and in good condition.
Promoting a culture of safety
But there’s one more factor in this fight against falls. Prevention methods will be more effective if employees understand the problem and take slips and trips seriously.
Consider including written guidance on slips and trips in your company health and safety policy. You should also provide staff training where necessary.
Recording and reducing slips and trips at work
If you want to reduce the number of injuries in your workplace, you’ll also need to record and monitor data. You can then set a target, and take the right actions to meet it.
By measuring slips and trips and improving safety, you can continuously lower the number of accidents at your company — and the cost.