Simple mistakes shatter lives
Slips, trips and falls from height can all have serious consequences. Everyone can do more to ensure that their workplace becomes a safer environment. The effects of slips, trips and falls at work are far reaching, both for those involved, their families and the industries they work in. The cost to society alone is in the order of £800 million per year. The Shattered Lives Campaign website is here to help raise awareness, provide guidance and encourage employers and employees to take action to help reduce the risk of a slip, trip or fall at work.
Health and Social Care Case Study
Winchester and Eastleigh NHS Trust
After monitoring health and safety records, bosses for Winchester and Eastleigh NHS Trust recognised they had problems with slips and trips on wet hospital floors.
Between 2002-2004 the Trust had to tackle in the region of 100 slips and trips from staff, all of which could be blamed on floors left wet after cleaning.
The Trust’s safety adviser had attended an HSE slips, trips and falls workshop in 2004 which reinforced the belief that more could and should be done. This prompted the Trust to look again at the areas where falls were occurring to identify trends. Around the same time the Trust was unfortunate enough to have a member of staff fall in a ward area after the floor had been mopped.
An inspector from the Health and Safety Executive recommended that changing the way mopping was done could reduce the risk of slips and trips. He suggested using a dry mopping system using micro fibre, would limit the amount of fluid on the floor.
Micro fibre mops are designed to pick up dirt and cling to it. Rather than saturating the mops, the mops are placed into a bucket and left to soak up the water and cleaning fluid. This reduces the amount of residue that is left on the floor during and after mopping. The staff were also advised to mop and dry the floor in sections before moving onto the next part of the ward, to provide safe access around the area.
Dean Bailey, Trust safety advisor for Winchester and Eastleigh NHS Trust, said: “At first the housekeeping staff were reluctant to change to a system that they believed would take much longer. However, once we started to see a decrease in the number of people slipping and how easy it was to implement, they were more than happy with the new way of working.”
The Trust purchased 11 systems and trialled them for four weeks. The results were so dramatic they bought another six so they could roll the method out across all wards.
Since the Trust implemented the system in April 2005 it has received one report of a slip/trip to date as a result of wet floors which was reportable under RIDDOR, and an 85% reduction in falls from the 100 reported in the previous two years.
Dean Bailey said: “Using HSE’s online risk assessment tools and having HSE on board was fundamental in reducing the slips and trips within our organisation. Without these tools and HSE support we wouldn’t have seen such dramatic results and made our wards safer for our members of staff and patients whilst maintaining our clean environments.”
Spillages are one of the most common causes of slips in the workplace; we all need to be vigilant and clean up any spilt substance that could cause an accident. Take a look in your workplace and see if you can improve how you work.
Using the wrong cleaning method or the wrong cleaning equipment can put staff at risk by making the floor slippery. Make sure cleaners know the correct cleaning method and use it.
An unexpected obstacle in your path can cause a serious trip and fall. It is important to keep walkways clear, so make sure boxes, bags, cables and other obstacles aren’t left hanging around.
An overflowing sink or a leak that causes water to drip onto the floor can create a serious slip hazard, especially on a smooth floor. Stop it from getting onto the floor in the first place: turn off taps and fix leaks quickly. Use drip trays or something similar as a temporary measure.
Leaving boxes around can cause a serious trip hazard. Deliveries should be put into proper storage as quickly as possible and pallets or packaging cleared away. Your actions can make a real difference.
Steps or ramps are places where a worker can trip or fall. If you have changes in level or ramps in your workplace think about sensible measures to make sure everyone knows where they are.
Grabbing a chair to reach something at a height can be tempting, especially when you’re in a rush. Stop and think, not using the correct access equipment can cause a fall with very serious consequences.
So, if you have to work at height, always use the correct access equipment for the job.