Safety at Work: Reducing Slips and Trips in the Workplace



Most of us tend to overlook slips and trips in the workplace as little more than moments of clumsiness. After all, everyone is victim to them from time to time, so what’s the big deal? Unfortunately, the result of these moments of clumsiness is often injury, from a painful sprained ankle to a fatal tumble down a stairwell.

The mines are particularly susceptible to trips, slips and falls. Miners tend to stand for long hours. Safety mats, Wet Area Mats, Anti-Fatigue Mats can be especially useful under these circumstances. Get your no-risk, 2-week free trial now.

Who’s at Risk, Male or Female?

A study of work-related injuries, published by Safe Work Australia in July 2012, revealed that some 11% of male workers in Australia, and 17% of female workers had fallen at the same level (including slips and trips) while at work in a 12-month period until June 2010.

And given that the total number of injuries in the workplace over that period was 638,000 (354,000 male; 284,000 female), that means some 39,000 men and 48,000 women suffered injuries after slipping or tripping at work.

There is a difference between slipping and tripping and a fall, principally because a fall need not have anything influence the incident.

  • Fall – A fall can occur simply due to a sudden loss of balance.
  • Slip – Generally involves a wet or frozen surface, or an unstable item like a tray, sheet of paper etc.
  • Trip -Meanwhile can happen when a person catches their foot in an object, like a cable or perhaps an uneven edge on the flooring, like a dog-eared mat corner or loose tile.

Admittedly, most of the injuries suffered from these kinds of incidents are minor, involving some bruising or some musculoskeletal injuries, like sprains and strains – easily treated with a well-stocked first aid kit. But maintaining safety levels in the workplace is centred on shoring up the threat of even minor accidents.

Reducing the risk of slips and trips is achievable by introducing a range of checks and measures for the workplace, though depending on the workplace, these can be extensive and very detailed. The role of the PCBU is, therefore, extremely important.

But what are the measures needed to effectively reduce slips and trips in the workplace?

The Slips And Trips Fact Sheet [1.3MB], published by Safe Work Australia, gives a very detailed guide to the steps to take.

Below, you can read an extract from that fact sheet, but for more details, read the entire version by clicking on the link above, or simply visit the Safe Work Australia website.

Some Fact Sheet Facts

The Role of PCBUs

PCBUs must manage the health and safety risks associated with slips and trips by eliminating the risk so far as is reasonably practicable, and if that is not reasonably practicable, minimising the risk so far as is reasonably practicable.

This involves a systematic approach to:

  • Identify hazards
  • If necessary, assess the risks associated with these hazards
  • Implement and maintain risk control measures
  • Review risk control measures

There are various ways to control the risk of slips and trips, listed below in order of their effectiveness (known as the hierarchy of controls):

Hierarchy of control Examples
Eliminate the hazard Remove slip and trip hazards at the design stage such as eliminating changesin floor levels and installing more power outlets to avoid trailing cords.
Substitution Replace flooring with a more slip-resistant surface.
Isolation Prevent access to high risk areas, for example cordon off wet floor areas whilecleaning is in progress.
Engineering controls (redesign) Apply floor treatments to increase slip resistanceImprove lightingStop leaks from equipment or pipesProvide adequate drainageClearly mark edges of steps and any changes in floor height.
Administrative controls Implement good housekeeping practices including keeping access waysclear and cleaning up spills immediatelyUse signage to warn of wet or slippery areasProvide training and supervision.
Personal protective equipment Wear slip-resistant footwear.

Identifying Slip and Trip Hazards

Common slip hazards include:

  • Spills of liquid or solid material
  • Wet cleaning methods
  • Wind-driven rain or snow through doorways
  • A sudden change in floor surface, for example joins
  • Between carpet and polished timber
  • Change from wet to dry surface
  • Dusty and sandy surfaces
  • The incline of a ramp
  • Loose or bumpy flooring
  • Low light levels
  • Use of unsuitable footwear

Common trip hazards include:

  • Ridges in floors or carpets
  • Worn floor coverings or broken tiles
  • Potholes and cracks in floors
  • Changes in floor level
  • Thresholds and doorstops
  • Floor sockets and phone jacks
  • Cables from power extension units
  • Loads that obstruct vision
  • Obstacles in traffic areas

Controlling the Risks of Slipping

Floor treatments that improve slip resistance are those which increase the surface roughness of the flooring. The main floor treatments are sand blasting or grinding, chemical etching, coating with resins, and using floor mats or adhesive anti-slip strips.

Examples of different floor types are:

FLOOR TYPE CHARACTERISTICS
Concrete Rounded aggregate can be slippery when concrete wears. Interior surface is often sealed to prevent dusting and absorption of liquids – this can increase slipperiness.
Terrazzo Gives good appearance and wears well but can be slippery when wet, when excess polish is used or when dusty.
Quarry tiles, ceramic tiles Low water absorption and good resistance to chemicals. Slippery in wet conditions if smooth, but can be moulded with aggregate or profiles to improve slip resistance – special cleaning equipment may then be required.
Glazed ceramic tiles Slippery when wet, particularly with soapy water. Some slip resistance treatments available, but preferable not to install these tiles on floors.
Vinyl tiles and sheet Easy to clean. Use sheet form where frequent washing is required to avoid water getting under tiles. Slippery when wet, particularly if polished, however slip resistant vinyls are available. These have aggregates moulded in. Thicker and softer vinyls are more slip resistant than hard ones.
Cork Must be sealed to prevent absorption of oil and water, but may then be slippery when wet.
Steel plate Tends to be slippery when wet or oily, particularly when worn.
Rubber Less effective in wet conditions. Must be fixed down well at the edges and joints or will cause a trip hazard.
Plastic matting Interlocking PVC extrusions give good drainage and slip resistance. Hose down or steam clean.
Carpet Carpet has a shorter life than hard floor surfaces, but it can be a cost-effective solution. Installations should be wall to wall, to avoid the hazard of a trip on edges. When used in small local areas, such as at entrances, it should be installed in a recess in the floor. Alternatively, it should be rubber-backed and with hardwearing tapered edges. Trolleys can be harder to push on carpet, but if larger wheels are fitted and the carpet does not have a deep pile, this is not a serious problem.
Fibreglass gratings This product can have grit particles moulded into upper surface to provide very good slip resistance. Fluids are quickly drained away.

 

Ways to eliminate or minimise slipping hazards due to liquid and waste from machinery include:

  • Modify the machinery to prevent leakage
  • Install exhaust systems to remove dusts or that would otherwise settle on floors
  • Use a tray to collect liquid and waste

Ways to eliminate or minimise slipping hazards due to accidental spills include:

  • Clean up water or oily spills immediately – use absorbent paper or powder for Cleaning up any oily residues
  • Thoroughly dry floors after cleaning
  • Erect warning signs at areas with a high risk of spills

Controlling the Risks of Tripping

Ways to eliminating tripping hazards include:

  • Provide storage areas separate to work areas
  • Provide sufficient storage systems to keep materials out of aisles
  • Provide sufficient power sockets and computer service jacks to minimise or remove the requirement for cords on the floor (where possible)
  • Remove or cover protruding sockets on the floor
  • Securely stack goods and avoiding single towering stacks
  • Hang power cords over work areas rather than on the floor
  • Clean up workplaces and remove rubbish or obstructions regularly
  • Display visual cues, such as warning strips and signs to alert pedestrians about changed or uneven surfaces

 

Safety is Important

We all want to keep the safety of our employees and customers, that’s why Alsco is here to offer you variety of solutions. Mines are no exception. The working conditions in mines add to the hazards, including of slips and trips.

Alsco’s range of commercial mats and industrial mats now includes the Evolution Mat. In addition to a great range of features including thicker pile and premium quality, these mats are made from recycled materials, eliminating the need for raw production materials.

Keep your office safe with Alsco. To know more about Alsco safety and evolution mats, visit the Alsco booth at the AIMEX at Sydney Showground. Call Alsco for more details. Grab yours now!

Image courtesy: randychiu



Disclaimer – These articles are provided to supply general health, safety, and green information to people responsible for the same in their organisation. The articles are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs.