Slips and trips

Slips or trips account for more than half of all accidents in the education sector, usually resulting in fractures to arms, ankles and wrists. Nevertheless, there is a lot employers should do to minimise the risks.

Regulation 12 of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 stipulates that every floor, surface or traffic route in a workplace should be suitable for the purpose for which it is used, and should be properly constructed and maintained for safe usage.

Additionally, the area should (as far as is reasonably practicable) be kept free from obstructions, articles or substances which may cause a person to slip, trip or fall.

Safety reps encounter slips and trips more frequently than any other hazard. ATL recommends safety reps use the Health and Safety Executive's mapping tool (see link on the right-hand side of this page), which helps identify the potential for slips, trips and falls. It involves drawing a sketch map and marking with a cross those areas where slips and trips have been reported in the past 12 months, adding areas where 'near misses' (incidents that have not resulted in injury) have occurred and gathering from colleagues the reasons why people have slipped or tripped.

In identifying these slip and trip 'hot spots', take into consideration:

  • the cleaning and maintenance of premises - highly polished floors have been the source of a number of incidents concerning ATL members

  • the measures taken to control leaks or spillages

  • the build up of clutter in certain areas, which could impede access and/or present a slip/trip hazard

  • stairs and steps, where many accidents occur

  • that there is enough natural and/or artificial light for people to work, use facilities and move safely

  • evidence of leaking roofs, walkways exposed to the elements and potential for water to gather

  • times of the year when snow or mud are more likely to be brought into the building

  • areas where trailing cables from equipment and tools may be more prevalent.

The surface of the floor may be considered unsuitable if it is frequently slippery because of a substance which lies upon it, even if only temporarily. ATL safety reps should therefore ensure that risk assessments consider whether a transient substance lies upon the floor's surface on a regular basis.

Once this process has been completed, safety reps should then discuss these hotspots with management, and decide on how to remedy the situation. Following this, effective and continued monitoring of the measures put in place will be required.

If a member of staff is injured by slipping or tripping, remember that there may be a legal obligation on your employer to report it to the HSE (see the section on accident reporting for more information).

Need further advice?

Your first point of contact is your ATL rep in your school or college. Your local ATL branch is also available to help with queries, or you can contact ATL's member advisors on tel: 020 7930 6441 or email us. Please have your membership number to hand when telephoning and include it with any correspondence - this will help us to answer your query more quickly.

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