Slips, trips and falls (STF’s) at work may be extremely embarrassing, but did you know that they are one of the most common causes of injury at work? STF’s can cause significant injury, potentially resulting in:
- Sprains and strains.
- Broken bones or fractures.
- Dislocated joints.
- Back injuries.
- Cuts and more.
The below guidance outlines your rights and responsibilities as an employee or worker, how to avoid slipping and tripping at work, and what to do if you suffer an accident or injury at work due to a STF accident.
The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSWA) requires employers to ensure the health and safety of their employees, and anyone affected by their work (as reasonably practicable).
Under the HSWA, employees and workers must also take care of their own health and safety, as well as that of others and must use safety equipment, or personal protective equipment (PPE) that has been provided.
Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, employers must assess any risks at work (including STF risks) and take action to prevent them where possible.
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 also require workplace floors to be suitable, in good condition and free from any obstructions so that people can safely move about.
Ultimately, it is your employer’s responsibility to ensure that the workplace is safe from STF hazards – for both employees and anyone affected by the business. However, under the HSWA, employees and workers also have a duty of care to adhere to e.g., if an employee leaves a trip hazard in a walkway, which causes someone to trip and hurt themselves, the employee will be responsible.
Where STF hazards cannot be removed, your employer is responsible for supplying all employees with PPE to help mitigate the likelihood of accidents occurring.
There are many reasons as to why people can slip, trip or fall over at work. The following provides examples of what can contribute to or cause accidents.
- Recently cleaned floors.
- The weather.
- Colleagues/clients/members of the public.
- Environmental e.g., in cold weather, ice may form and cause a surface to become slippery.
- Obstructed walkways.
- Uneven surfaces.
- Workplace design e.g., is flooring suitable for the work that is taking place?
Slips and trips occur as a result of unintended or unexpected change between the contact of a person’s feet and the floor/walking surface. This simple fact highlights just how important good housekeeping, quality of flooring/walking surfaces, proper footwear and risk assessments are in preventing STF accidents.
Good housekeeping is vital in preventing slips and trips, this can include:
- Cleaning up any spilled liquids immediately.
- Highlighting any spills/wet surfaces.
- Removing debris from the floor/walking surfaces.
- Removing obstacles out of walkways.
- Keeping walkways clear of clutter.
- Ensuring that rugs, carpets and mats are secure to the floor.
- Always closing cabinet doors/drawers.
- Covering cables/wires with cable mats.
- Ensuring that working areas are well-lit.
- Replacing used or faulty light bulbs and switches.
Flooring and walking surfaces
Another big cause of STF accidents is poor quality flooring and walking surfaces. To prevent slips and trips, your employer should ensure that all flooring is suitable for the type of work being done on them, install mats where STF risks are high, and highlighting any wet or slippery surfaces.
In workplaces where floors may be wet or oily, or where employees spend time outside, employers should assess the need for adequate footwear or PPE to avoid STF accidents.
Footwear should also fit comfortably, and prevent fatigue, which also improves the health and safety of employees.
Employers must manage health and safety risks at work – including slips and trips. To do this, by law, they, or Health and Safety Reps must conduct risk assessments and take sensible measures to control any risks in the workplace.
Once slip and trip risks have been identified, your employer must decide suitable and effective control measures to prevent these types of accidents, then put these control measures in place. This could include:
- Changing flooring/working surfaces.
- Installing sufficient lighting.
- Training employees on workplace safety.
- Ensuring that any wet surfaces are clearly identified.
- Notifying employees of any potential hazards.
- Using the right cleaning methods.
- Preventing floors and walking surfaces from getting wet.
- Making sure employees are equipped with the right footwear.
- Supplying PPE where personal footwear cannot be worn.
It is standard practice for employers to regularly conduct risk assessments, as well as speak to employees about potential risks.
At Community, we encourage our members to undertake safe working practices, including how to prevent slips, trips and falls – that’s why we offer courses on maintaining safe workplaces, preventing slips, trips and falls and other health and safety training, designed to keep you and your colleagues safe in the workplace. If you are interested in taking these courses or sign posting your colleague(s), click here to contact our Community Learn team who will be happy to help.
If you are interested in creating a safe working environment, you may be interested in becoming a Community Health and Safety Rep. As a Rep, you can help to implement vital health and safety policy and raise awareness on good working practices. Click here to find out more and register your interest.
If you believe there is a risk of slips and trips to you and your colleagues, you should immediately notify your employer or Health and Safety Rep as they will be able to assess the risk and introduce measures to reduce it. Other actions you can do include:
- Taking your time when you walk.
- Paying attention where you are going.
- Adjusting your walking pace to suit the surface and tasks you are doing.
- Walking with your feet pointed slightly outward.
- Making wide turns at corners.
- Keeping your working area tidy and walkways free of trip hazards.
- Removing items from the floor/walkways that could be a potential slip/trip hazard or notify someone who can remove it.
- Always using installed lighting to see where you are going.
- Cleaning up any spillages or notifying cleaning staff.
- Using PPE where required, and ensuring it is safe to wear.
- Reporting any faulty PPE to your employer.
- Ensuring anything you are carrying/moving do not prevent you from seeing any potential slip or trip hazards.
- Notifying your employer if you feel that there are areas in the workplace that pose a potential slip/trip hazard.
- If you do slip or trip, make sure to immediately report it to your employer.
- Reporting any damaged flooring/walking surfaces or spills.
If you have slipped and tripped at work, we recommend you follow these steps:
- Tend to any injuries as a priority.
- Report the incident to your employer and ensure it is recorded in the accident book.
- Take any photographs of the STF hazard that caused your fall.
- Keep a record of any witnesses that saw the incident.
- Keep a record of any injuries, symptoms, treatments and medical expenses as a result from the fall.
- Speak to your union (us!) or your Health and Safety Rep.
- If your fall was as a result of employer negligence, get support with a personal injury claim.
This will entirely depend on what caused your slip, trip or fall, and whether the accident was your fault or not. You may be eligible to make a personal injury claim and receive compensation if:
- Your employer was negligent.
- Your STF was a result of employer negligence.
- If you were injured as a result of that STF.
If you have sustained any injuries as the result of employer negligence, you may be eligible to claim compensation and personal injury. You should inform Community immediately if you intend to do this as our legal team may be able to support your claim and through the process. 100% of any compensation won will go directly to you. Find out more.
We understand that you may be wary about being fired or treated unfairly if you make a personal injury claim against your employer as a result of an STF accident. If your employer attempts to dismiss you, or mistreats you because of your claim, they may make a claim to an employment tribunal under unfair or constructive dismissal. As with claiming personal injury, you should notify us immediately so we can provide legal support through the process.
It is important to note that when a personal injury claim is made against an employer, it will be paid through their insurance. Making a claim will not leave your employer or workplace out of pocket.
If you need help or advice, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0800 389 6332.
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