Safety Signs Blog

Slips and Trips, taking responsibility for others actions

11th November 2010 | Warning Signs

Growing up, many of us are taught the importance of taking responsibility for our own actions. However, it appears that this rule does not apply to the world of slips and trips! If you fall or hurt yourself in anyway, you just have to look hard enough to find someone to blame it on!

HSE statistics reveal that the single most common cause of injuries at work result from slips and trips. Over 26,000 workers took three or more days off last year because of them. Furthermore, of these 26,000 workers, around 11,000 suffered a “major injury”, many taking an extended period of time away from work.

Thankfully for employers not all of the above will seek some kind of compensation. But some undoubtedly will, especially the ones who have been badly injured. What is more, these employees have legislation on their side:

  • The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSWA) require employers to ensure the health and safety of all employees and anyone who may be affected by their work. This includes taking steps to control slip and trip risks.
  • The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 require floors at the workplace to be suitable, in good condition and free from obstructions.
  • The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992 states that if obstacles cannot be removed then they should be clearly marked.

Of course in these extremely tough economic times, health and safety is usually one of the first budgets to get “reviewed”…and ultimately cut! However, this must be seen as a false economy. Without wishing to go into specifics the last 20 years have been littered with cases of employees taking their former employers to court for everything from loss of earnings to compensation for life-long disabilities.

Even if no compensation is sought, even minor accidents at work can have a detrimental affect on businesses; particularly the small to medium sized ones. For example, if a business has 10 employees and their star sales person is out of action for a month as a result of a fall at work, the whole business could be seriously affected. No sales could mean no production. No production could mean no profit. And no profit can ultimately bring any business down. As such, preventing a slip or trip at work can be one of the best investments any business can undertake.

Under the Management of Health and Safety at Works Regs, it is the employer’s duty to assess risks and, where necessary, take action to “safeguard health and safety”. When it comes to slips and trips, this can often be done without involving expensive consultants. A simple walk-round is the start point. Employees’ daily routines should be observed and discussed. By focusing on areas of potential risk, if the slip/trip hazard cannot be removed, it should be clearly marked with hazard tape or safety signs.

caution slippery floor surface sign

When it comes to health and safety signs, the signs should be made to either the European ISO 7010 standard or BS5499, as both sign types use symbols that have proven comprehension levels. The signs should cover aspects like ‘trip hazard’, ‘slippery floor surface’ and ‘mind the step’. Furthermore, for temporary hazards like wet floors, yellow free standing floor signs should also be used to mark up cleaning activities. ‘Men at work’, ‘wet paint’ and ‘trip hazard’ free standing signs should also be used for their temporary hazards.

caution wet floor / caution cleaning in progress / a-frame sign

By doing the above activities, although there may not be an immediate and obvious benefit, business owners should comfort themselves that they have done one further thing to safeguard the long term future of their business.


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