The latest figures available from the HSE show that in 2016/2017 the number of estimated non-fatal injuries to workers was 609,000, of which 434,000 were injuries causing less than 7 days of absence, while the other 175,000 were injuries lasting longer than 7 days. Non-fatal injuries reported by employers under RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013) amounted to 70,116, and there were 137 workers killed at work.
The amount of working days lost amounted to 5.5 million, while the costs to Britain of injuries in the workplace for 2015/2016, which are the latest figures available, amounted to £5.3 billion. Certain industries have above average accident rates, and the worst of these is agriculture, forestry, and fishing. These were followed by construction, transport and storage, accommodation and food services, public administration and defence, and the wholesale and retail trade, in that order.
The major cause of accidents in the workplace is slips, trips, and falls, with 37% of injuries caused by them, and 28% of fatalities resulting from them. 59% of fatalities were in the construction industry – roofing, and painting and decorating being particularly high risk. The majority of the slip, trip and fall injuries were in the healthcare sector. Almost three quarters of injuries resulting in over 7 day absence were caused by slips, trips, and falls, and a third of these were on wet floors.
The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSW Act) requires employers to ensure the health and safety of all employees and anyone who may be affected by their work, so far as is reasonably practicable. This includes taking steps to control slip and trip risks. Employees have a duty not to put themselves or others in danger, and they must use any safety equipment provided by the employer.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require employers to assess risks (including slip and trip risks) and, where necessary, take action to address them. The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 require floors to be suitable, in good condition and free from obstructions. People should be able to move around safely.
All employers are required by law to carry out a risk assessment to establish the likelihood of danger to employees and must take action to deal with any areas where they are found to be shortcomings. It is simply a question of assessing any slip and trip risks and deciding what sort of action will prevent these sorts of accident. In many cases, very simple steps can be taken to avoid slips and trips, such as mopping up any spills immediately rather than leaving them for people to walk on.
One very good idea is to ask your employees what dangers they think that there might be, because they may very often notice something in the course of their work that you may not have considered yourself. If you have over five employees, the law also requires you to keep a written record of your findings and the action that you have taken in order to address them.
There are lots of practical steps that you can take to avoid slip and trip dangers, one of which is the inherent safety of your floor. Some floor surfaces are more slippery than others by nature, and this can be a problem if it is not something that you have considered. You may indeed take very care to ensure that the floor is cleaned regularly and that your employees have instructions to mop up any spills immediately and report any potential hazards to you, but the level of slipperiness of your floor is not something that may spring to mind.
There is a slip resistance test which can be carried out using a special piece of equipment which is known as the Pendulum Test. This produces a reading on a siding scale, and if your reading is over 36 your floor is deemed to be safe. However, if it falls below this figure, it is not.
If this should be the case, there are several products that are manufactured as an anti-slip floor coating, and applying the correct type of one of these to your floor will bring it up to a safe level.