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There's nothing funny about slips, trips and falls

23 January 2013

Slips, trips and falls might sound funny but they shatter the lives of thousands of British workers ever year.

Slips, trips and falls might sound funny but they shatter the lives of thousands of British workers ever year.

In addition to the significant human cost of these incidents, there is also the cost to business and society.

Slips, trips and falls in the workplace cost Britain around £800million every year, a particularly worrying number at a time when both businesses and individuals are struggling financially following the recession. Last year 35 people died as a result of a fall from height in the workplace and in the same period more than 4,000 employees suffered major injuries. Add in slips and trips and that total rises to 40 dead, 15,000 major injuries and more than 30,000 workers having to take over three days off work.

At their most extreme, falls can result in death and by their very nature, the resulting injuries to workers have the potential to be life changing, not only for those involved but also their families.

Such injuries are not necessarily caused by working at a great height either - more than three-quarters of them result from people falling from below head height. These incidents are avoidable and this is the reason that HSE has its Shattered Lives campaign, working with local authorities.

The latest phase of the campaign has been running in March to highlight the devastating consequences of slips, trips and falls in the workplace and to encourage employers, to work with employees, to take action - managing these risks through often simple measures.

Making improvements doesn't need to cost the earth and we are encouraging people to visit the Shattered Lives website, where they will be able to get cost effective and easy to implement solutions to help manage hazards in their workplace. We are making freely available two new online tools, to help employers to understand the risks and manage them properly. The Slips and Trips E-learning Package (STEP) includes quizzes, videos, animations, case studies and interactive sequences that employers and employees can work through.

The Work at Height Access Equipment Information Toolkit (WAIT) is a simple, user friendly toolkit for people who occasionally work at height. It gives users practical advice and guidance on the factors to consider when selecting access equipment for planned work at height. It also gives guidance on how to work at height safely, plus useful information on some of the different types of access equipment available.

The Shattered Lives website also features examples of what some of Britain's leading companies are doing to tackle slip, trip and fall hazards. How does Sainsbury's tackle slip risks through footwear? How does the country's largest independent installer of digital terrestrial and satellite equipment, First Line Digital, guard against falls from height? You can find out on the website.

As these examples prove, the only inevitable thing about slips, trips and falls is the potential to shatter lives.

For more information about slips, trips and falls visit: www.hse.gov.uk/shatteredlives/

For more information on the Work at Height Regulations 2005 visit:

Peter Brown HSE