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The most preventable accidents in the workplace.

Slips, trips and falls are the second highest single cause of workplace injuries. Every working day six people are hurt in workplace slips, trips and falls, according to the HSA.  

There were more than 1,600 workplace slips, trips and falls reported in Ireland in 2016.

  And whilst slips, trips and falls might be some of the most preventable workplace accidents, the numbers don’t seem to reflect this, they also cost employers tens of thousands of Euros in claims and fines every year. Good housekeeping and general common sense can avoid most of these issues by removing clutter, keeping floor clean and using appropriate and visible signage. But some practices can be misunderstood or even overlooked by workers. Here are some useful facts to consider when it comes to slips, trips and falls.  

A floor’s appearance can be deceiving.

  You may think that a recently cleaned or resurfaced floor is more likely to cause an incident, but it’s often the opposite. A fresh floor finish can increase a floor’s slip resistance, giving it stronger traction and reducing the chance of someone losing his or her footing.  

Traditional cleaning methods can do more harm than good.

  When there’s a spill, it’s easy to grab a mop and clean it. But before you do that, know that this method can increase the risk of a slip or fall. Traditional mops use a small amount of cleaning solution and often aren’t applied on a floor long enough to remove all soils. Consider using a trolley bucket system as an alternative cleaning method. It combines a squeegee and vacuum system with fresh solution, allowing it to remove all liquids, soils and residue from the floor.  

Don’t assume that employers are automatically responsible for an incident.

  Many people are quick to blame employers and businesses for slips and falls. But they're only liable if they are directly responsible for an accident, or if they knew (or should have known) about the hazard and didn’t react fast enough. Let’s say a spill happens in a restaurant. If someone falls because it wasn’t cleaned in a timely manner, the fault could lie with the restaurant. If they knew about the spill and weren’t quick to address it, they are responsible for any injuries the person may have sustained. The same applies for all businesses.  

Avoiding an incident usually comes down to the individual.

  The majority of slips and falls happen because people aren’t paying enough attention to their surroundings. Incidents can often be avoided by taking some basic, easy steps. The first (and most obvious) is to always pay attention to where you’re walking. If you are in a rush or stressed you are not focused on your surroundings. Proper signage can help us to focus, for instance a wet-floor sign or other warning signs can help us to me more aware of our surroundings. Wearing proper safetywear especially shoes is another way to avoid slips and falls. Ineffective footwear is said to be responsible for 24 percent of industrial slip and fall injuries. One reason for this is that people don’t always choose the best shoes for their work environment. Whenever a slip or fall occurs, the person’s footwear is often evaluated to see if it played a role in the incident. It is up to your employer to ascertain if specific safety shoes are appropriate for your workplace and your line of work. Innovations in slip-resistant footwear in recent years, makes it easier to choose the right footwear for any work environment.   Finally employers must conduct Risk Assessments for their premises. From 2010 to 2016, 21% of over 10,000 HSA workplace visits found no slip, trip and fall risk assessment. The rate rose to 30% for retail premises. Under section 19 of the 2005 Act, employers are required to carry out risk assessments and to record these in the Safety Statement. The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 requires employers to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the design, provision and maintenance of a safe workplace with safe access and egress for all employees.   For more advice on PPE and Safetywear speak to our experts on sales@bunzl.ie or call us on 353 1 6301800