News

09 Dec 2015

Have you got wet, slippery floors? See what the law says slips and trips...

What does the law say?

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSW Act) requires employers to ensure the health and safety of all employees and anyone who may be affected by their work, so far as is reasonably practicable. This includes taking steps to control slip and trip risks.

Employees have a duty not to put themselves or others in danger, and must use any safety equipment provided.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require employers to assess risks (including slip and trip risks) and, where necessary, take action to address them.

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 require floors to be suitable, in good condition and free from obstructions. People should be able to move around safely.

What can employers do to prevent slips and trips?

Risk assessment You must manage the health and safety risks in your workplace. To do this you need to decide whether you are doing enough to prevent harm. This process is known as a risk assessment and it is something you are required by law to carry out. A risk assessment is not about creating huge amounts of paperwork, but rather about taking sensible measures to control the risks in your workplace, for example using doormats to stop rainwater being tracked in and making the floor slippery. You are probably already taking steps to protect your employees, but your risk assessment will tell you whether you should be doing more.

Consider what risks in your workplace may lead to slip or trip injuries, and decide what suitable and effective control measures will prevent these types of accidents. You then need to put these control measures into practice. Concentrate on the real risks – those that are most likely to cause harm. Think about how accidents could happen and who might be harmed. You can do this by:

■ asking your employees what they think the hazards are, as they may notice things that are not obvious to you and may have some good ideas on how to control the risks;

■ using the hazard-spotting checklist and slips and trips mapping tool to help you identify problem areas (see ‘Find out more’ at the end of the leaflet);

■ referring to the ‘Practical steps to prevent slips and trips accidents’ section below.

In many instances, straightforward measures can readily control risks, for example ensuring spillages are cleaned up promptly so people do not slip. Make a record of your significant findings and what you have in place to prevent them. If you have fewer than five employees you don’t have to write anything down but it is good practice to keep a record. Few workplaces stay the same, so it makes sense to review what you are doing on an ongoing basis. More guidance on risk assessment can be found at www.hse.gov.uk/risk.

Managing for health and safety

A good management system will help you identify problem areas, decide what to do, act on decisions made and check that the steps taken have been effective.

Guidance on managing health and safety can be found at www.hse.gov.uk/managing/. Health and Safety Executive Preventing slips and trips at work: A brief guide Page 3 of 5

Practical steps to prevent slips and trips accidents

There are many simple ways to control slips and trips risks and prevent accidents in your workplace. Here are a few examples.

Stop floors becoming contaminated

■ Use entrance matting.

■ Fix leaks from machinery or buildings.

■ Make sure plant and equipment are maintained.

■ Design tasks to minimise spillages.

■ Plan pedestrian and vehicle routes to avoid contaminated areas.

Use the right cleaning methods

■ Make sure that your cleaning method is effective for the type of floor you have.

■ Don’t introduce more slip or trip risks while cleaning is being done.

■ Leave smooth floors dry after cleaning or exclude pedestrians until the floor is dry.

■ Remove spillages promptly.

■ Have effective arrangements for both routine cleaning and dealing with spills.

■ Use the appropriate detergent mixed at the correct concentration.

Consider the flooring and work environment

■ Check for loose, damaged and worn flooring and replace as needed.

■ Floors likely to get wet or have spillages on them should be of a type that does not become unduly slippery.

■ Make sure lighting is sufficient and that slopes or steps are clearly visible.

■ Keep walkways and work areas clear of obstructions. Get the right footwear

■ Where floors cannot be kept clean and dry, slip-resistant footwear can help prevent slip accidents.

■ Trial footwear first to make sure it is suitable for the environment and for those who will be wearing it, ie comfort and fit.

■ If footwear is supplied as personal protective equipment (PPE), it must be supplied free of charge to employees.

Think about people and organisational factors

■ Consider how work is organised and managed, eg to avoid rushing, overcrowding, trailing cables.

■ Make sure employees are involved in the decisions that affect them, eg choice of PPE footwear or a change in cleaning methods.