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Safety Nudges

Slips and Trips

Published by Safety Net Team

November 21, 2022

The danger with slip and trip accidents is that they are so commonplace that people begin to believe that they are inevitable, and can only be accepted — not controlled. However, this topic shows that a rigorous risk management programme, focusing on factors related to the individual, the activity or task being performed and the workplace environment, can dramatically reduce both the likelihood of such accidents taking place and the severity of those that do occur.
Employers’ Duties
The legal requirements imposed on employers in relation to slips and trips can be sub-divided into those covering the employer’s duty to employees, and those covering the employer’s duty to others (non-employees), eg visitors, contractors and members of the public. In many instances, these requirements overlap in terms of the practical action required to reduce the risk of slip, trip or fall accidents.
• Under the Health and Safety at Work, etc Act 1974 employers have a general duty to:
– ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all employees
– carry out their activities in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in their employment are not exposed to risks to their health and safety
– provide and maintain, so far as is reasonably practicable, a safe place of work with safe access and egress.
• Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, employers must make an assessment of the risks to the health and safety of their employees while at work and take action where necessary.
• The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 require that:
– the workplace is maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair
– the workplace and all furniture, furnishing and fittings within it to be kept sufficiently clean
– it must be possible to keep the surfaces of the floors, walls and ceilings of all workplaces inside buildings sufficiently clean
– so far as is reasonably practicable, waste materials should not be allowed to accumulate in a workplace except in suitable receptacles
– every workplace has suitable and sufficient lighting
– every room in which persons work must have sufficient floor area, height and unoccupied space for purposes of health, safety and welfare
– outdoor workstations must be arranged so that persons at the workstations are not likely to slip or fall
– surfaces of traffic routes must be suitable for their purposes and suitable for the persons or vehicles using them (sufficient in number, positions and size)
– all traffic routes must be suitably indicated where necessary
– so far as is reasonably practicable, suitable and effective measures must be taken to prevent “any person falling a distance likely to cause personal injury”
– all windows and skylights in a workplace must be designed so that they can be cleaned safely.
• The Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 — purely a civil law statute — states that a common duty of care is owed by an occupier to all visitors, except where the occupier has extended, restricted, excluded or modified this duty. The common duty of care is the duty to take reasonable care in all circumstances to ensure the safety of visitors using the premises (within the limits of their reasons for having been invited).
Employees’ Duties
• Under the Health and Safety at Work, etc Act 1974, employees have a duty to:
– take reasonable care of their own health and safety and that of other people who may be affected by their activities at work (this may extend to matters such as wearing appropriate footwear, etc)
– co-operate with employers to enable employers to comply with their health and safety duties; this includes co-operating with employers in relation to controls introduced to either eliminate or reduce the likelihood of slip, trip and fall accidents.
• Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 employees must, among other duties, inform employers of shortcomings in their protection arrangements and of situations that they reasonably consider represent serious and immediate danger to health and safety. This applies to slip, trip and fall hazards as well as other hazards.

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