Preventing slips and trips before they happen
27 October 2016
Slips, trips and falls far outnumber any other kind of accident in the workplace and are costing the UK economy in excess of £1billion each year, not to mention the impact the resulting personal injuries can have on the workforce. Sibtain Naqvi, UK product marketing manager for Workwear, Mats and Washroom at Berendsen, looks at why these incidents are happening and how they can be prevented with mats.
Slip and trip accidents are the most common cause of harm at work in the UK, with more than 21,000 incidents of this type recorded in 2014/2015 alone. They are accountable for over a third of all reported major injuries in the professional environment and more than 95 per cent of major slips result in broken bones, as well as being responsible for 20% of over-three-day injuries to employees. Slips and trips can also be the initial cause of other types of serious accidents, including falls from a height, but, worse still, slips and trips result in two fatalities each year.
In addition to the immense human cost, slip and trip accidents can cause significant damage to both the reputation and bottom line of businesses. It is estimated that they result in nearly one million lost working days and cost employers £512million annually. The health service also spends approximately £133m on these accidents per year. Worryingly, no industry seems to be able to avoid slip and trip accidents completely as they are happening in every sector from health and social care to water and waste, and from construction to arts and entertainment.
Although the number of slip, trip and fall accidents is declining and the numbers fell by 25% between 2007/2008 and 2013/2014, these incidents are still happening far too frequently. More needs to be done to eliminate the problem, as many of the incidents occurring are avoidable. Furthermore, employers have a legal responsibility under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 to provide a safe professional environment to ensure the wellbeing of their workforce.
Most accidents happen on wet floors or floors contaminated with food debris or oil, but this should be viewed as positive news as it means there are things employers can do to reduce the risk of slips and trips in the future. For example, the problem of oil on the floor due to poor housekeeping can be removed by introducing more efficient cleaning procedures, while good extraction and ventilation equipment can help to remove steam and grease before it becomes deposited on the floor.
Equally, working environments that are characteristically wet or oily can be made dramatically safer with the introduction of effective floor mats that are designed to avert slip and fall accidents before they happen. The Health and Safety Executive also recommends suitable mats to stop water on people’s shoes from outdoors or indoors being walked into other areas of the workplace where it could make the floor slippery. High quality mats from leading providers are specially engineered to trap dirt and moisture to prevent it from being spread throughout a building.
As well as achieving slip-resistant walking surfaces, floor mats can enhance the appearance of business premises, making them look smarter and more professional – particularly when using bespoke logo mats. Innovative anti-fatigue mats can also boost comfort for workers that have to stand for prolonged periods. Indeed, research shows that productivity drops by 33% for a person standing eight hours on a concrete floor, whereas standing on an anti-fatigue mat increases productivity by 20 to 50%.
The benefits of implementing floor mats in the workplace are clear, yet managing and maintaining them is likely to be an unwelcome additional task when operating a busy firm. However, partnering with an experienced mat and laundry services provider removes that hassle, as they take care of the whole process, from specification to effective, routine washing. The leading companies carry out a comprehensive assessment of each business’ mat needs to ensure the right type and quantity are provided, they will then draw up a tailored collection and delivery schedule to enable the regular specialised laundering of the mats in industrial machines to guarantee ultimate hygiene and performance.
With a huge number of preventable slips and trips occurring each year, employers must take greater steps to guarantee they are doing enough to prevent harm. Including something as straightforward as good quality floor mats may seem like a minor change, but taking this kind of simple measure and ensuring they are designed for the purpose has a dramatic positive impact on the safety of the workplace across almost all sectors to safeguard both employees and business performance.