The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 imposes a duty on all employers to take steps to ensure the health and safety of their employees and third parties (such as customers or workmen). This duty includes taking steps to control risks to such persons from slips, trips and falls. Employees are also under a duty to behave in a responsible manner to ensure their own safety and that of others around them. Additionally, they must make use of any safety equipment provided by their employer.
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 impose the specific requirement that floors must be suitable and in good condition. They must also be free from obstructions and people must be able to move around safely.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 impose a duty on employers to carry out risk assessments, including those relating to hazards involving slips, trips and falls. Once these have been highlighted, employers must put into place measures to prevent the risk of accidents arising from slips, trips and falls.
The HSE recommends five steps in risk assessment of slips, trips and falls:
The HSE has issued specific mapping tools to assist managers and safety representatives to prevent accidents involving slips, trips and falls. These can be found on the HSE website, together with other useful information (see Sources of further information).
The HSE has highlighted the following as the requirements of a good system to prevent slips, trips and falls.
An employer should identify key areas of risk and work with employees to identify areas on the site giving rise to risk of slips, trips or falls. Employers should also take care when selecting floor coverings and equipment to prevent or reduce slip and trip hazards. This can be done by choosing anti-slip flooring and fitting splash guards.
Staff should be trained in how to avoid accidents involving slips, trips and falls, including cleaning up spillages and not placing trip hazards in the workplace. Staff should also be trained on how to use safety signage to warn of slippery floors etc. and to wear suitable footwear.
Work activities should be organised in a way that minimises the risks of slips, trips and falls, and specific staff members should be given responsibility for ensuring that the workplace is kept safe. This can be done by ensuring the workplace is always well-lit, free from obstructions and tripping hazards (e.g. trailing cables) and that all spillages are cleared up quickly to prevent slipping.
Records should be kept to ensure good cleaning and maintenance operations are being used. Checks should be carried out regularly to ensure safe working practices are being used.
Monitor and review
Employers should regularly review accident records and identify any areas where current safety arrangements are deficient. Steps should be taken to remedy any deficiencies highlighted. Employees should be encouraged to report any safety issues.
The HSE has identified the main factors that it considers contribute to slips, trips and falls: