Slips, Trips and Falls Management
Slips, trips and falls are a major source of accidents in all locations. Floor surfaces, spillages, obstacles, trailing wires for example can all contribute to employees, clients and other visitors sustaining injuries from a slip or trip. Injuries can be minor, major or in some cases fatalities. In general, slips and trips occur due to a loss of traction between the shoe and the walking surface or an inadvertent contact with a fixed or moveable object which may lead to a fall.
Good Housekeeping Practices
Good housekeeping is critical. Safety and housekeeping go hand-in-hand. If your facility’s housekeeping habits are poor, the result may be a higher incidence of employee injuries, ever-increasing insurance costs and regulatory citations. If an organization’s facilities are noticeably clean and well organized, it is a good indication that its overall safety program is effective as well.
Proper housekeeping is a routine. It is an ongoing procedure that is simply done as a part of each worker’s daily performance. To create an effective housekeeping program, there are three simple steps to get you started;
- Plan ahead– Know what needs to be done, who’s going to do it and what the particular work area should look like when you are done.
- Assign responsibilities– It may be necessary to assign a specific person or group of workers to clean up, although personal responsibility for cleaning up after himself/herself is preferred.
- Implement a program– Establish housekeeping procedures as a part of the daily routine.
Reduction of Wet or Slippery Surfaces
Walking surfaces account for a significant portion of injuries reported. The most frequently reported types of surfaces where these injuries occur include:
- External parking.
- Paths or walkways (or lack of).
- Food preparation areas.
- Shower or changing Areas.
- Flooring in general.
Wet weather can also have an impact on surfaces as moisture can be tracked in by pedestrian traffic. Walkways should therefore be monitored to ensure appropriate controls are in place.
- Keep external parking areas and paths clean and in good condition (free from damage such as pot holes).
- When snow and ice are present, remove or treat these elements. In some extreme cases, it may be necessary to suspend use of the area.
Indoor control measures can help reduce the incidence of slips and falls.
- Use moisture-absorbent mats with bevelled edges in entrance areas. Make sure they have backing material that will not slide on the floor.
- Display 'Wet Floor' signs as needed.
- Clean up spills immediately. Create a procedure for taking the appropriate action when someone causes or comes across a food or drink spill.
- Use proper area rugs or matting for food preparation areas.
Reduction of Obstacles in Aisles and Walkways
Injuries can also result in from trips caused by obstacles, clutter, materials and equipment in aisles, corridors, entrances and stairwells. Proper housekeeping in work and traffic areas is still the most effective control measure in avoiding the proliferation of these types of hazards. This means having policies or procedures in place and allowing time for cleaning the area, especially where scrap material or waste is a by-product of the work operation.
- Keep all work areas, passageways, storerooms and service areas clean and orderly.
- Avoid stringing cords, cables or air hoses across hallways or in any designated aisle.
- In office areas, avoid leaving boxes, files or briefcases in the aisles.
- Encourage safe work practices such as closing file cabinet drawers after use and picking up loose items from the floor.
- Conduct periodic inspections for slip and trip hazards (e.g. monthly facility audits).
Creation and Maintenance of Proper Lighting
Poor lighting in the workplace is associated with an increase in accidents. It is important that the following elements are followed to ensure sufficient illumination is in place;
- Use proper illumination in walkways, staircases, ramps, basements, external paths, etc.
- Keep work areas well-lit and clean.
- Upon entering a darkened room, always turn on the light first.
- Keep poorly lit walkways clear of clutter and obstructions.
- Keep areas around light switches clear and accessible.
- Repair fixtures, switches and cords immediately if they malfunction.
Wearing Sufficient Footwear
The shoes we wear can play a big part in preventing falls. The slickness of the soles and the type of heels worn need to be evaluated to avoid slips, trips and falls. Shoelaces need to be tied correctly. Whenever a fall-related injury is investigated, the footwear needs to be evaluated to see if it contributed to the incident. Employees are expected to wear footwear appropriate for the duties of their work task.
Control Individual Behaviour
This element is the toughest to control. It is human nature to let our guard down for two seconds and be distracted by random thoughts or doing multiple activities. Being in a hurry will result in walking too fast or running which increases the chances of a slip, trip or fall. Taking shortcuts, not watching where one is going, using a mobile phone, carrying materials which obstructs vision, wearing sunglasses in low-light areas, not using designated paths and speed are common elements in many on-the-job injuries.
It’s ultimately up to each individual to plan, stay alert and pay attention but this should be included as an awareness item in any training related to the general facility or specifically on slips, trips and falls.
The main requirements to manage risks of slips, trips and falls are:
- Completion of a suitable and sufficient risk assessment.
- Providing suitable information, instruction and training to staff on hazards and controls.
- Good housekeeping practices to help reduce risks of injury to staff and visitors.
- Procedures and equipment in place to deal with any spillages.
- Routine monitoring of workplace to identify slip, trip or fall hazards and look to remove or control them.
- Servicing of all plant, machinery and equipment in the workplace.
- Ensuring that appropriate footwear is being worn by staff in the workplace.
- Organisation and management of work to prevent issues such as rushing, overcrowding, trailing cables, etc.
Questions to Consider
- Are routine inspections of the workplace completed?
- Is there sufficient storage space for all equipment and materials?
- Are clear walkways maintained at all times?
- Are external areas monitored and controlled as necessary?
- Is there an appropriate spills kit available?
- Are staff trained on the spills procedures?
- Is there a rotation of staff involved in daily, weekly or monthly workplace hazard monitoring?
- Is there the building good condition to prevent water ingress?
- Are all step nosing's highlighted in a colour contrasting yellow or white?
The above guidance provides an introduction on the main requirements needed to adequately manage this health and safety topic. If you require further guidance, risk assessments or template documentation on this subject please consult your relevant full guidance health and safety website (BIGGA, England Golf, Scottish Golf, Wales Golf). If you do not hold the log in details for this website, for your club, please speak to your golf club management team to identify who the account administrator is and request the details.