Caution Wet Floor Sign

According to the Health and Safety Authority, slips, trips, and falls represent a major occupational hazard in Irish workplaces, resulting in seven injuries every day on level surfaces alone. Remarkably, these incidents rank as the second leading cause of workplace injuries. Even more concerning is the fact that 22 per cent of such accidents necessitate over a month off work, which is higher than that of all other workplace injuries combined.

Such stark figures underscore the critical important of implementing preventative measures to safeguard workers' welfare and reduce the incidence of such accidents across Irish workplaces.

In this blog, we will delve into the common causes of slips, trips and falls, and provide practical strategies to prevent them. From navigating wet floors to managing trailing cables and cords, we'll equip you with the knowledge and tools necessary to create a safer working environment for yourself and your colleagues. So, whether you're an employer, a safety officer, or an employee concerned about workplace safety, read on to discover how you can mitigate the risk of slips, trips, and falls in your workplace.

Trailing cables

Trailing cables and cords present a significant tripping hazard in the workplace, especially in areas where electronic equipment is commonly used. These cables can extend across walkways, creating unseen obstacles for employees. Additionally, if not properly secured or organised, cables and cords can become tangled or looped, further increasing the risk of trips.

Employers should implement cable management systems, such as cable trays or floor cord covers, to keep cables and cords out of walkways. Furthermore, training employees on proper cable handling and emphasising the importance of keeping pathways clear can help reduce the likelihood of accidents caused by trailing cables.

Wet surfaces

Wet flooring surfaces pose a considerable risk of slips and falls, particularly in areas where liquids are used or spills are common, such as kitchens, restrooms, or production areas. Water, oil, grease, or cleaning solutions can create slippery conditions on floors, making it challenging for employees to maintain their balance.

Promptly addressing spills and implementing measures to dry wet surfaces, such as using absorbent mats or floor dryers, are essential for preventing accidents. Additionally, installing anti-slip flooring or applying non-slip coatings can enhance traction and reduce the risk of slips on wet surfaces, providing a safer environment for employees to work in.

Slippery surfaces

Slippery flooring surfaces, whether due to the material composition or inadequate cleaning, present a significant hazard in the workplace. Certain types of flooring materials, such as polished stone or tile, can become slippery, especially when wet. In environments where cleanliness is crucial, such as food processing facilities or restaurant kitchens, residue or debris left on floors can also decrease traction and contribute to slips.

Employers should select flooring materials with slip-resistant properties whenever possible and establish regular cleaning protocols to remove dirt, grease, or other substances that may compromise traction. Furthermore, providing appropriate footwear with slip-resistant soles can help employees maintain stability on slippery surfaces, reducing the risk of accidents.

Uneven or loose flooring

Loose or uneven flooring poses a significant tripping hazard, particularly in areas with heavy foot traffic or where flooring materials have deteriorated over time. Loose floorboards, tiles, or carpeting can create unexpected changes in surface elevation, causing individuals to trip and potentially fall. Furthermore, transitions between different types of flooring materials, such as carpet to tile or hardwood to vinyl, can create uneven surfaces if not properly installed or maintained.

Employers should conduct regular inspections of flooring surfaces to identify and repair any loose or uneven areas promptly. Additionally, installing transition strips or ramps between flooring materials can help create smooth transitions and minimise tripping hazards for employees.

Poor lighting

Insufficient lighting in the workplace can obscure hazards and make it difficult for employees to see potential dangers, increasing the risk of slips, trips, and falls. Dimly lit areas, especially in stairwells, corridors, or storage rooms, can conceal obstacles and uneven surfaces, leading to accidents. Additionally, poor lighting can cause shadows or glare, further compromising visibility and depth perception.

Employers should ensure adequate lighting throughout the workplace, especially in areas prone to accidents, by installing bright overhead lights, task lighting, or emergency lighting systems. Regular maintenance of lighting fixtures, such as replacing burnt-out bulbs or cleaning light covers, is essential to maintain optimal visibility and enhance safety for employees.

Improper footwear

Wearing improper footwear for the working environment can increase the risk of slips, trips, and falls. Shoes with worn-out soles, insufficient grip, or inappropriate design for the task at hand can compromise stability and traction.

Employees should be encouraged to wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes with non-slip soles suitable for the specific job requirements. For example, workers in industrial settings may require steel-toed boots for protection, while employees in healthcare facilities may benefit from slip-resistant footwear designed to withstand spills and fluids.

Employers should provide guidelines on appropriate footwear and ensure that employees have access to safety footwear that meets industry standards, reducing the likelihood of accidents caused by inadequate footwear.

Obstacles and obstructions

Obstacles and obstructions in the workplace, such as furniture, equipment, or debris, pose significant tripping hazards if not properly managed. Cluttered walkways, congested work areas, and misplaced objects increase the likelihood of employees tripping and falling. Moreover, temporary obstacles, such as boxes or trollies left in aisles, can obstruct pathways and impede safe movement throughout the workspace.

Employers should enforce clear pathways by keeping walkways free of obstructions and ensuring that equipment and materials are stored in designated areas when not in use. Implementing storage solutions, such as shelving units or cabinets, can help organise tools and supplies, minimising the risk of accidents caused by obstacles in the workplace.

Risk Assessments and Safety Statements

Preventing slips, trips, and falls in the workplace requires a proactive approach that addresses common causes, from trailing cables to wet or slippery surfaces, inadequate lighting, flooring or footwear to obstacles and obstructions. By identifying these hazards and implementing appropriate preventive measures, employers can create a safer environment for their employees.

Conducting thorough risk assessments allows businesses to identify potential hazards and prioritise corrective actions to mitigate risks. Safety statements then provide clear guidelines and procedures for employees to follow, promoting a culture of safety within the organisation.

SafeHands Health & Safety Solutions has been delivering comprehensive risk assessments and safety statements to all types of businesses in Ireland for over 20 years. With our expertise and experience, businesses can enhance workplace safety and minimise the incidence of slips, trips, and falls, ultimately protecting the well-being of their employees and avoiding costly accidents. By prioritising safety and investing in preventive measures, businesses can create a workplace where employees can perform their duties with confidence and peace of mind.