- A wet floor or a small step may seem innocent but slips, trips and falls can have dangerous consequences such as musculoskeletal injuries, factures and even deaths.
- As an employer, you must vigilantly identify hazards, assess risks and ensure your staff know to alert management if they encounter a hazard.
- You also need appropriate risk control measures such as owning safety equipment, planning escape procedures and regular reviews.
According to Work Safe Australia, thousands of preventable workplace injuries are caused by slips, trips and falls every year, often resulting in musculoskeletal injuries, cuts, bruises, fractures and dislocations. Tragically, between 2003 and 2015, slips, trips and falls accounted for the death of 386 Australian workers.
In a perfect world, no one would ever be injured at work or anywhere in fact. However, the reality is that accidents do happen. Every business has some level of injury risk involved so it’s crucial to do everything possible to prevent workplace injuries.
We all want to get home safely at the end of the day. To help prevent slips, trips and falls in the workplace, there are some steps that should be a priority for any business.
What defines a trip, slip or fall?
According to Work Safe Australia:
- Slips occur when your foot loses traction with the ground surface due to inappropriate footwear or walking on slippery floor surfaces that are highly polished, wet or greasy.
- Trips occur when you catch your foot on an object or surface. In most cases people trip on low obstacles that are hard to spot such as uneven edges in flooring, loose mats, open drawers, untidy tools or electrical cables.
- Falls can result from a slip or trip, but many occur from low heights such as steps, stairs and curbs, or into a hole, ditch or water.
4 steps to prevent trips, slips and falls
1. Identify hazards
People often miss what’s most obvious. Wet floors, steps, cables and other obstructions to vision or movement are all causes of slips and trips. A dripping tap may not seem like a problem, but a wet surface can eventually become quite a hazard for somebody walking by.
2. Assess the risks
If you identify a potential hazard, you need to inform management and the appropriate people know. A Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) auditor can identify and assess just how dangerous a particular hazard might be and suggest steps to deal with it. Again, a small step at the doorway might not appear to be a huge issue, but someone with an armful of books may not see it as they enter!
3. Implement and maintain risk control measures
Prevention is always best, but you’re not always in control of the way a building is designed. If you have no sway over where the stairs and lighting is placed, then the next best thing you can do is ensure you have the correct safety equipment readily available.
Spill kits, barriers and partition equipment, signage and personal protective equipment are great to have in the workplace to make sure risks and hazards can be dealt with quickly and appropriately.
It’s also important to have plans in place so that everyone knows how to identify and deal with a problem.
4. Regularly review your risk control measures
Things change, and staff come and go. Make sure your plans and procedures are still relevant – it might be as simple as updating the list of staff who work there or organising an annual visit from a WHS professional.
While it is impossible to prevent all workplace accidents, with the right planning, procedures and equipment in place, you can minimise the risk and reduce the severity of any possible injuries.
Few things are more important than the health and wellbeing of your staff and visitors. Some forethought and planning can go a long way towards reducing incidents and lowering the fatality rate of workers in Australia.
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