Even the messiest of slip potential environments can be improved

The management of a clay processing plant estimated that around 40% of their accidents were attributable to slips & trips and that each injury at work had direct costs to the company of around £100 per day. The company identified a number of areas for action.

In the production areas clay deposits can be a problem, the fine chalky clay is slippery when wet but also slippery when in dry powder form. Manufacturing the clay is a messy business as large amounts of water are needed during the production process and water is the main agent used by workers to clean their work areas down. Substantial underfoot contamination is almost unavoidable but the company looked at ways it could reduce the risk. Suitable safety footwear is issued to workers and the company is now looking at identifying footwear that offers best slip resistance performance in their particular working environment.

Housekeeping has been improved in engineering areas with better-defined walkways and work areas. These have enabled workers to keep pedestrian areas trip hazard free and encourage pedestrians to stick to the marked walkways. 'Spill kits' have been made available in all areas in order to respond to oil leaks or spills from machinery.

Toolbox talks have been to the workforce on the subject of slips & trips. Their aim has been to improve staff awareness on how slip & trip injuries occur and how they can be prevented. They aim to encourage the workforce to play their part in injury prevention and to report all incidents.

The company uses a large amount of earth moving equipment and identified a slip issue with one of the machines. It was difficult to keep the access route to the drivers cab free from clay debris. The driver had to mount the earth mover at the front onto metal surfaces and access the cab via the wheeled track. These areas could not realistically be kept free from contamination by clay. The machinery suppliers were called in and agreed with the company that the best solution was to redesign the driver access route so that the driver climbed onto the machine from the rear, an area much less prone to contamination. By co-operating in this way the slip risk has been reduced and the machinery manufacturer has gained valuable feedback on its products use in practice.

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