We’ve all seen those old Hollywood slapstick comedies where banana skins leave heroes flat on their backs, or spilled marbles turn a chasing gang of villains into something resembling a herd of moose on rollerskates. We can’t help but laugh.
At Alsco, we know that in reality, slipping or tripping is not really anything to laugh about. In fact, it is a major source of work-related injury, causing anything from simple cuts and bruises to muscular strains, to much more serious injuries, like bone fractures.
For employers, this can mean more instances of worker compensation, while for workers it can mean considerable pain and sometimes long-term injuries.
Figures published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics last year, showed that 640,700 Australians suffered work-related injuries or illnesses in 12 months from 2009 to 2010, while the three occupational groups most at risk were Labourers, Machinery Operators and Drivers, and Community and Personal Services workers 1.
Most interestingly, of the 640,000 workers in question, some 84,700 of them (13%) suffered their injury as a result of falling on the same level, a category that includes slipping and tripping 1.
So, what can be done to make such simple mishaps become a rarity, if not a thing of the past completely? Well, for both slipping and tripping there are a variety of measures that can be taken to achieve this aim.
We’ve put together a shortlist that can help you on your way, but there is more detailed information and recommended steps in our Reducing Trips and Slips in the Workplace guide [PDF 496KB].
5 Simple Measures to Reduce Slipping Risks
- Use water absorbent floor mats at all entrance areas to soak up any dripping rainwater from clothing and umbrellas. These are designed to handle large volumes of traffic and can be easily laundered and replaced by your supply company.
- Designate areas for wet umbrellas and overcoats to be kept, but ensure they’re away from busy traffic routes. Keeping them close to the entrance minimises the potential wet area created.
- Be sure to regularly service any machinery to reduce the chances of leakage. You could also add containers to capture any condensation and spills.
- Invest in special work area matting. These are designed to resist oils and water so workers standing on them won’t slip while working.
- Make sure there is easy access to cleaning-up equipment. These include mops, cloths, absorbent paper for oil substances, and portable ‘Caution’ signs.
5 Simple Measures to Reduce Tripping Risks
- Keep working areas, aisles and corridors clear of items so there is nothing to trip over. Provide separate storage areas for boxes, tools and equipment. Ensure cabling is neatly tucked way. Carry out clean-ups regularly.
- Keep the floor surface as consistent as possible, so cover floor power sockets, remove ridges and flatten inclines (if possible).
- Where flooring type changes suddenly (like concrete to carpeting), ensure the levels are evenly matched. With carpets or tiling, make sure the edges are secured to prevent dog-earing or warping.
- Reduce the need for cabling by installing extra power sockets and in more convenient places. Where cabling must cross traffic routes, place them overhead rather than across the floor.
- Keep your workers aware. Many people trip when they are not paying attention or are distracted. So, use visual aids in high risk areas (storeroom), on stairs and remind your staff to do their bit.
More To Do
Of course, completely countering the risks of slipping and tripping in the workplace require more than the 10 measures mentioned above.
Like health and safety regulations, it requires detailed planning and sometimes some significant changes to working procedures.That’s why appointing one or more staff members to keep on top of things is recommended.
After all, having specific individuals responsible for identifying risks in their own work sections (kitchens, lobby, factory floor etc) means that control measures can be applied thoroughly throughout the workplace. Organising staff training courses is a good idea.
But the bottom line is that keeping your workplace slip and trip free is not an impossibility. So, your own staff can be safer from the risk of those slapstick moments – and the sometimes serious injuries they can cause – as much as any other form of work-related accident.
Safety Mats from Alsco can help too. Not only do they help avoid slips and trips, these mats reduce the wear and tear of the flooring in heaving traffic areas, reducing costs too. Get a two-week free trial from Alsco to see how good these mats really are!
1. ‘Work-Related Injuries, 2009-2010’, Australian Bureau of Statistics – http://www.ausstats.abs.gov.au/ausstats/subscriber.nsf/0/04A80CA5D52DFAA8CA25793B000E2236/$File/63240_2009-10.pdf
Image Courtesy: Roland Tanglao