Slips, trips, and falls in the workplace can be the result of a number of different things. They are the major cause of serious injuries, according to the HSE, and can result in compensation claims which can run into the hundreds of thousands in the case of serious injury. Many business owners or managers may not be aware that they are responsible for the condition of their floor surfaces and have a legal responsibility to keep employees safe by taking all reasonable precautions.
There is also a responsibility on the part of employees to take proper care when working and to inform management of any potential dangers that they may spot, but nonetheless it makes sense to remember that prevention is better than cure. In this day and age, most people are aware that there is an army of solicitors out there who are only too keen to undertake work on behalf of anyone who has been injured, on a "no win, no fee" basis.
This is because those solicitors know full well that they will probably be able to obtain huge amounts of compensation through the courts for a client, and because their usual fee is 25% of the damages payable. The odd case that they may lose is more than paid for by a hugely successful case where the damages can run into the hundreds of thousands. Even a "small" successful claim of £30,000 or £40,000 helps to pay for their three-week holiday in the sun.
The problem is that, as a business owner, even if you have insurance that covers this sort of incident, your premiums are going to skyrocket in the event of a successful claim against you, so you will be paying for it for years to come.
This is why you must take every care to ensure that your floor or floors are as safe as they can possibly be. That is aside from the moral aspect that you don't really want people injuring themselves because your floor was at fault.
You probably already do everything that you can to keep your workforce safe, and also in the event that you have customers entering your premises, or other visitors such as salesmen. You are responsible for your floor whoever is walking over it. No doubt you have rules in place which tell your employees that any spills must be cleaned up immediately, and you doubtless have your floor cleaned on a regular basis by a cleaning company.
You may also have the right type of mats at entrances to prevent people coming in from outside when it is wet and tramping water or mud over the floor.
However, all of this can be negated if the composition of your floor is such that it is inherently slippery. It might be something that has never occurred to you, because you keep the floor clean and it looks perfectly OK. So how can you possibly know if your floor is dangerous just because of the materials from which it is constructed?
As luck would have it, there is an answer. The surface of your floor can be tested for slipperiness using a simple piece of equipment, and it is called a Pendulum Test. What this little gadget does is to replicate the action of a heel striking your floor surface as somebody walks over it. It then produces a figure on a sliding scale. If your floor scores over 36 then it is regarded as safe. If it scores less, then it is unsafe. Simples, as a certain meerkat might say.
The Pendulum Friction Test is the only test which is recognised by the British courts so if your floor is safe then a claim for damages could well be rejected. However, the test can also be used against you if somebody is injured. A solicitor acting for a claimant may use it to determine that your floor is UNSAFE, and then you are in trouble.
This is why you should have a test carried out. If your floor falls below 36 there is no need to worry, as there are several different types of anti-slip products that can be applied to it to bring it up to standard. But at least you will then know where you stand. And standing is what you want everyone to be doing – not slipping!