Preventing Slips and Trips in the Workplace

Preventing Slips and Trips in the Workplace

Slips and trips in the workplace are the most common cause of injuries, often requiring extended periods off work and repeated visits to a hospital. 90% of these cases involve broken bones, but in all cases the pain and suffering inflicted is a great financial risk for business and society as a whole.

It is estimated that every 3 minutes a slip, fall or trip incident occurs and on average the total cost to the economy is £800 million pounds. A significant proportion of that cost is attributed to businesses in:

  • Damage to equipment, fitments or goods
  • Production shut-down or re-routing
  • Lost productivity, replacement staff and additional training
  • Legal fees for investigation, case preparation and civil action.
  • Fines
  • Possible damages awarded by the courts.

 

Slips, trips & falls on the level accounted for 698,336 bed days in 2002/03 but accidents involving car occupants accounted for only 82,395 – Hospital Episode Statistics – England: financial year 2002-03.

 

Cleaning procedures, systems, equipment, products and training are the main cause of all slips and trips in the workplace.

To appreciate how cleaning is intrinsically linked to all these incidences, you need to understand how cleaning is much more than the equipment you use, the cleaning detergent you use or how it is carried out. In every incident involving a slip on a wet floor (the most common slip environment), the cleaning is either directly linked as the primary cause or indirectly as a failure in the cleaning system.

For example, A cleaning system that combines an integrated floor cleaning system, when used incorrectly can result in excessively wet floors, leading to a high slip risk. The cleaning system isolated from all other factors (human factors, floor type, cleaning products, etc) can often be perfectly capable of delivering a reasonably low slip risk. However, misunderstandings of the capabilities of the cleaning system can lead to a high slip risk when all the other factors come into play, like: The mopping equipment is the wrong type for the floor material or floor coating, the cleaning product is the wrong type or formulation for that floor-type, The equipment is not appropriate for the foot traffic levels and many more.

Another example in where cleaning is indirectly linked, is in the situation where the floor has a high gloss finish when dry, usually to enhance the appearance by mimicking a wet-look, and a spill of any clear liquid (plain water or cleaning solution) blends in with main reflection from the overhead lights. The source of those clear liquids can vary considerably, from rain or snow carried in from outside, drinks and including cleaning solution. Even though cleaning products are coloured to aid identification, upon dilution that colour completely disappears and the result is a clear liquid. Should that cleaning product, now diluted, be mishandled through splashes, spills or simply just incorrect mopping, then that floor area represents a high slip risk.

There are many examples of how cleaning is the primary cause of slips or a significant contributor to slips in the workplace, many of these seem small and insignificant, yet the risks to employees and the public are great, and the costs of ignoring the problem are enormous.

 

We can help you reduce your slip and trip risks before it becomes costly. We can accurately measure your slip risk using HSE recognised slip testing equipment. We are independent of all equipment and product manufacturers, so we can give unbiased advice on the whole cleaning industry. We are expert witnesses in personal injury resulting from slips and trips in the workplace. For more information and to discuss the matter confidentiality, please click through here.

Rafael Cobos
rafcobos@futurecleansystems.com