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Stop Slipping: How To Prevent The Most Common Cause Of Workplace Injury

Whether it be a slippery surface, damaged floor coverings (e.g. a rug or carpet), improperly stored equipment or a dimly lit area, a wide variety of hazards can contribute to slips, trips and falls (STFs) in the workplace. 

What’s more, slips and trips take the top spot as the most common cause of work-related injury across industry lines, according to the Health and Safety Executive. In fact, over 30 per cent of non-fatal workplace injuries occurred due to STFs in 2018. Further, slips and trips accounted for over 20 percent of non-fatal workplace injuries that resulted in more than a seven day employee absence.

Put simply, this common cause of work-related injury can lead to significant consequences within your organisation, including increased absenteeism, decreased productivity, staff shortages, insurance claim costs and reputational damage.

As a result, STFs are often overlooked, because individually they are usually not financially significant although the average STF claim settles at around £11,500, including costs. However, cumulatively, these losses cost employers and their insurers many millions of pounds each year. One large supermarket chain has told the Association of British Insurers that it needed to keep five stores open each year to pay for personal injury costs alone. STF claims cost insurers around £800 million annually, and the figure is rising. Those costs are, of course, reflected in premium rates.

For British business alone, STFs also account for 1.5 million lost working days annually, bringing considerable associated expenses.

Don’t let a largely preventable cause of injury wreak havoc within your workplace. Regardless of industry, consider the following tips to reduce the risk of slips, trips and falls in your organisation:

  • Prevent floor contamination — Floors can become contaminated by spillages, leaks, materials carried indoors (e.g. snow and ice) from the bottoms of shoes and improper cleaning methods that result in a slippery surface. Keep your organisation’s floors both clean and safe by installing floor entrance matting, performing routine maintenance on building fixtures and machinery to reduce spills and leaks, enforcing proper cleaning procedures and using appropriate hazard signage in the presence of slippery surfaces.
  • Analyse organisational risks — Each business possesses specific workplace risks that could lead to slip, trip and fall hazards. Be sure to consider potential slip and trip risks in your routine risk assessment, and implement safety policies and procedures to reduce or eliminate possible hazards. This could include adding non-slip footwear to your dress code policy, requiring safe storage practices for hazardous equipment (e.g. cables) and encouraging employees to avoid rushing.

When considering the recognised estimate that every pound saved in direct costs associated with a claim, avoids another £10 in hidden costs, such as management and investigation time, loss of productivity, loss of reputation, etc., the significant benefits associated with such a targeted approach to tackling the root causes of STFs are indisputable. Thus, a small investment in this area can produce great cost savings, both for individual businesses and insurers. 

Contains public sector information published by the HSE and licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.
© 2019 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved. This publication is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as compliance or legal advice. In relation to any particular problem which they may have, readers are advised to seek specific advice. Further, the law may have changed since first publication and the reader is cautioned accordingly.