Slips, trips and falls
With the onset of this wet and cold weather, it is definitely a prime time for slips, trips and falls for people of all ages, in all occupations, indoors and outdoors.
Slips are the result of too little friction or a lack of traction between the footwear and the floor surface.
A trip is the result of a foot striking or colliding with an object, which causes a loss in balance, and usually a fall.
Figure 1: Slip, trip and fall
Each year slips, trips and falls result in thousands of preventable injuries. The most common ones are musculoskeletal injuries, cuts, bruises, fractures and dislocations, but more serious injuries can also happen.
Over the 12 years between 2003–15, slips, trips or falls:
- caused the death of 386 workers
- led to 23% of serious claims
- were caused by environmental factors 56% of the time.
Environmental factors can include slippery surfaces following rain or spills, poorly designed or maintained walkways, poor lighting on stairs and walkways and trip hazards for example from poorly stored materials.
HOW TO MAKE SIGNIFICANT IMPROVEMENTS?
You should consider the design of floors, stairs, lighting, drainage and storage.
Work procedures can also impact on the incidence of slips and trips. For example, develop procedures that avoid the build-up of rubbish throughout a production process.
When selecting and buying footwear, think about whether it has good slip resistance properties along with any other safety features you need. For example:
- In wet conditions the shoe sole tread pattern should be deep enough to help penetrate the surface water and make direct contact with the floor.
- In dry conditions the shoe sole tread pattern should be a flat bottom construction that grips the floor with maximum contact area.
- Urethane and rubber soles are more effective than vinyl and leather soles for slip resistance. Sole materials that have tiny cell like features will be slip resistant.
A risk analysis and strong policy around what is acceptable footwear for the job being performed will help prevent slips, trips and falls
For more information on slips, trips and falls, see Safe Work Australia Publication: https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/system/files/documents/1702/slips_and_trips_fact_sheet.pdf