So what can employers do to reduce their exposure in this key area or slip, trip and fall (STF) assessment and management? The first step is to conduct an in-depth STF risk assessment of your specific business. The second step is to ensure that you effectively communicate these risk assessments to your staff so that they are made aware of the STF hazards in their local area of operation. The third step is to put in place a proactive housekeeping system that manages the STF risk on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Finally, ensure that staff get refreshed on a routine basis so that key knowledge transfer is established and caters for the churn within your business.
Let’s face it, the playing field is a challenging one, and with our grey legal system and our high claims culture there is always going to be unavoidable slip, trip and fall incidents that may occur in your business… people have after all been falling over since humanity learned how to walk. However, there is a large percentage (up to 50% of all STF incidents) that are perfectly unavoidable. An analysis of the causal factors leading to STF accidents show that it is often employee behaviour (e.g. poor housekeeping) that leads to the hazards and consequential incidents. Numerous examples have been cited in court, where STF hazards were often left on the ground for hours with multiple staff members walking right by them before a member of the public then had accidents. This is a behavioural issue, and the fact that 80-95% of all accidents are behaviour-based provides further proof that they are preventable. But employers need to know ‘HOW’ to prevent them.
So what are the usual suspects? Well the HSA has identified a cross-sectoral overview of 8 causal factors leading to STF incidents and below are some of the primary hazards in order of frequency
- Descending Stairs
- Slippery and Wet Surfaces
- Exiting Vehicles
- Uneven Surfaces
- Cleaning Procedures
- Entrances and Exits
STF Hazards leading to injuries are responsible for some of the highest claims in Ireland, with compensation often reaching the six-figure mark. These incidents and consequential claims negatively affect insurance premium costs not to mention increases in excess and operational cost in terms of time, resources and loss of productivity throughout the process. It is time businesses take both responsibility and control of this problem and save money, time and reputation as a result.