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Other sources of risks that cause accidents

Other sources of risks that cause accidents

Contents

Floors

The floor in a workplace must be suitable for the type of work activity that will be taking place on it. Where a floor can't be kept dry, people should be able to walk on it without fear of slipping.

How to reduce risks

  • The floor must be fitted correctly to ensure that there are no trip hazards and that any non-slip coatings are correctly applied.
  • It must also be maintained properly to ensure that it doesn't become slippery or lose its slip resistance (if any) or that there aren't any trip hazards, such as holes or uneven surfaces.
  • You should avoid ramps, raised platforms and other changes. If you can't avoid them, however, make sure they're highlighted.
  • Check floors for loose finishes, holes and cracks, worn rugs and mats, etc. Take care in the choice of floor if it's likely to become wet or dusty due to work processes. Get specialist advice when choosing a floor for difficult conditions.
  • Stairs should have:
    • High visibility, non-slip material on the step edges
    • A suitable handrail
    • Steps of equal height and width

Contamination

'Contamination' is anything that ends up on a floor in some way, such as rainwater, oil, grease, cardboard, product wrapping or dust. Most floors only become slippery once they become contaminated. By preventing contamination, you can reduce or remove the risk of someone slipping.

How to reduce risks

First, consider whether you can get rid of the problem. For example, you could:

  • Fit canopies to entrances to stop rain entering a building
  • Fix leaks
  • Change work systems

If this isn't possible, try to control the contamination. For example, you could use:

  • Drip trays for leaks
  • Lids on cups and containers
  • Mats at building entrances to dry feet

If you can't stop contamination from getting onto a floor, you'll need to ensure that it's cleaned properly and quickly.

Obstacles

You could reduce accidents by improving housekeeping in the workplace.

How to reduce risks

  • Ensure walkways are suitable throughout the workplace.
  • Keep pathways clear — no trailing wires or obstructions.
  • Look at employees' workstations — make sure the floors are tidy and employees have enough storage space.
  • Make sure other rooms are tidy and goods are suitably stored. Make sure there are enough bins.
  • If you can't remove the obstruction, warn people using signs or barriers.

Cleaning

Regular and effective cleaning to remove contamination helps reduce accidents.

However, the process of cleaning can itself create slip and trip hazards. People often slip on wet floors that have just been cleaned. Spills aren't always visible and can be easily ignored.

How to reduce risks

  • You should have in place an effective cleaning system. This'll help you identify any problems areas.
  • Stop people walking on wet floors by using barriers, locking doors, or cleaning in sections. Remember that signs and cones only warn of a hazard — they don't prevent people from entering the area.
  • You should always check whether cleaners are using the appropriate cleaning products for the different surfaces in the workplace. You may want to speak to the suppliers of the cleaning products to make sure.
  • You should make sure any cleaners are effectively trained and supervised. They must be aware of their duties and responsibilities so that they don't take any shortcuts.
  • Try not to create extra slip or trip hazards during cleaning and maintenance work.
  • Carry out all necessary maintenance work quickly. Inspect, test, adjust and clean at suitable intervals. Keep records so that the system can be checked.

Individual behaviour

How people act and behave in their work environments can affect Slips and trips.

How to reduce risks

  • Encourage a positive attitude toward health and safety, e.g. deal with a spillage, instead of waiting for someone else to deal with it.
  • Ensure people wear suitable footwear, e.g. wearing high heels at work will make you more vulnerable to a slip.
  • Make people aware of their own actions. For example, a person can be distracted from seeing or thinking about where they're going because, for example, they were rushing about or carrying large objects. This can increase the risk of an accident.

Physical attributes

If individuals have a physical problem that stops them from seeing, hearing or walking normally, it can increase the likelihood of an accident occurring. For example, a person may have impaired vision, poor balance or a disability that affects how they walk.

How to reduce risks

  • Changing factors in work, or factors created by the work activity, can help stop or increase the risk of slips and trips.

Environment

Environmental issues (such as lighting, loud or unfamiliar noises, the weather, humidity and condensation) can increase the risk of slips and trips.

How to reduce risks

  • Ensure there is enough light in your workplace — too much or too little light could prevent people from seeing hazards on the floor and stairs.
  • Reduce the amount of unfamiliar and loud noises in the workplace as this may be distracting.
  • Contamination, frost and ice (from cold weather), and condensation could cause slippery surfaces, so ensure you have a good cleaning system in place for these situations.
  • Replace, repair or clean lights before they become too low for safe work.
  • Properly plan pedestrian and traffic routes to avoid overcrowding.

Footwear

Footwear can play an important part in preventing slips and trips.

How to reduce risks

  • Where you can't control footwear, e.g. public access areas of your premises, it's important to ensure that smooth floors are kept clean and dry.
  • Where you have some control over footwear, but where floors are mainly clean and dry, a sensible footwear policy can help reduce risks.
  • Where floors can't be kept dry or clean, a slip resistant shoe may be required. If you introduce a slip resistant shoe policy, the footwear will be considered Personal protective equipment and will be subject to the requirements of the Personal Protective Equipment regulations. You'll have to give these to employees for free.

Do a footwear trial before buying stock for your whole workforce.

When choosing footwear, take into account factors such as comfort, durability and any additional safety features required, such as steel mid-sole. The final choice may have to be a compromise.