For slip and trip risks to be adequately controlled you need to undertake a risk assessment. Similar to other topics there is a hierarchy of controls. Click on the relevant box for more information. For a fuller picture see also what causes slips and trips.
Prevent contamination getting on floor
Stop contamination getting on to the floor, remember a smooth, clean, dry floor, is rarely a slip risk.
- Review work activities - Contamination comes in various forms, fluids, swarf, saw dust, food and drink, polythene, cardboard. It is usually created by the work activity, so an assessment of the activity and way in which people work is essential if it is to be stopped from getting on to the floor.
- Design out problems - Good design can also prevent contamination from getting onto the floor, eg fit canopies over entrances, and fix leaking machines.
If you can't stop it, can you control it?
- Review work activities - Again looking at the way in which people work, eg do they clean up after themselves? Are they using bins?
- Employee & employer attitude – A positive attitude toward slips and trips is needed. When it comes to contamination and housekeeping, all need to have a 'see it sort it' mentality, rather than a 'leave it to someone else' attitude.
- Suitable and timely cleaning regimes - Cleaning systems [PDF 60kb] play a big part of contamination control, the right system, at the right time to be carried out safely. A good floor that is allowed to become engrained with contamination will soon turn into a slip risk.
- Control contamination – There are measures that can be put into place to help control contamination and to stop it from spreading into other areas of the workplace eg fit drip trays under machines and racking; use mats at entrances;
Eliminate adverse environmental conditions
Look for conditions that could affect the way a person behaves or prevent them from realising where the hazards are?
- Check lighting is suitable - it doesn't matter how good the floor is, if you can't see where you are going there is always the risk that someone might slip and fall.
- Is condensation a problem - If the floor were smooth, only a tiny amount of liquid would be sufficient to cause a slip risk, so look out for condensation, which could coat the floor, or humidity which would prevent the floor from fully drying out.
- Ice on floors – during winter months, or where there are cold stores/freezers, ice may be a problem
- Rainwater able to enter building – Can you fit canopies over doors? Fix leaking roofs. Provide suitable matting at entrances for people to dry feet thoroughly
Improve floor conditions
- What tasks are taking place? - What tasks might compromise the ability to walk safely? Is there a need to carry, lift, push or pull loads? Are people rushing about? Do they have hands free to hold on to hand rails? Are they being distracted? Scrutinise the work activities and process flow to see if it can be handled better. Don't forget about vulnerable people, that is anyone who may have a poor knowledge of the risks or poor health and agility? What about visitors or members of the public?
- Can floor roughness be improved? Firstly through better cleaning systems and lastly through etching or other roughness enhancing techniques. Remember etching and other techniques won't work on all floors, will shorten the life of the floor and will probably need to be repeated.
- Replace the floor - Replacing the floor should in most instances be a last course of action, but in others might be the only course of action.
Footwear can play an important part in preventing slips and trips.
You need to get all 3 right in order to prevent trips
- Walkways - Check for a suitable walkways? Are they in the right place, are they being used, are they available for use? What tasks are taking place on the walkway, is the task preventing the employee from seeing where he is going for example.
- Housekeeping – It is not just good enough to have a walkway, it must be kept clear, no trailing wires, no obstructions. Employees and cleaners need to have 'a see it, sort it' attitude to ensure these and other work areas are kept clear. Is the cleaning regime effective? Are there enough bins, storage facilities etc?
- Design and maintenance – is the floor suitable for the environment, fitted correctly and properly maintained. Are the walkways wide enough & level. Are stairs suitable, are risers consistent, are nosings highlighted where necessary, are usable handrails available. Environmental factors also fall into this category, is the lighting good enough for employees to see hazards, what about distractions that might prevent them from seeing where they are going.