Avoiding Claims for Slips, Trips, and Falls

According to the HSE, slips, trips, and falls are among the main causes of workplace injuries. Not only do these kinds of accidents lead to injury and pain for the individual involved, they can also lead to lengthy periods off work and substantial personal injuries for the premises.

Winter is the worst time for these types of accidents. Wet leaves or ice in the car park, people tracking mud into your premises, and dripping umbrellas all increase the risk that somebody will fall on your premises and possibly make a claim.

No business wants to be responsible for the suffering of somebody who falls on their premises, nor do they want to be liable for any compensation sought. How do you minimise the potential for slips, trips, and falls in your business? And how do you ensure that your risk assessment and prevention measures are recorded satisfactorily?

Here, we take you through some straightforward measures you can implement to minimise the risk of slips, trips, and falls on your premises, and suggest an easy solution for establishing your compliance if somebody does attempt to make an unjustified claim:

Preventing Slips, Trips, and Falls

People often fall and injure themselves and nobody is to blame. In other cases, such accidents are clearly caused by the negligence of the business owner, who had a duty of care to the victim. As a property owner, you are obliged to take “reasonable” steps to avoid trips and slips occurring.
However, spurious and unjustified claims for compensation do arise for slips that were not the fault of the premises owner.
According to the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, your business is obliged to implement a proper Slip Risk Assessment and Prevention Process, completed in three key stages:

1. Identify Areas
2. Assess Slip Risks
3. Prevent Slip Risks

Identify Areas

Begin your slip risk assessment process by listing manageable areas of the premises:

a) Area – e.g., entrance, bathroom, exit
b) Worksite
c) Pedestrian surface – provide a detailed description, e.g. worn industrial carpeting
d) Date

Combine your individual assessments for each area into a full workplace assessment by using a mapping tool or spreadsheet.

Assess Slip Risks

Now that you have identified the areas of your premises, assess the risks associated with each one. Slips usually involve a pedestrian making contact with a slippery surface that has been contaminated by a spill, cleaning, or ice. The potential for slips can be low, medium, or high risk. You can assess the
risk by reviewing the surface itself, any contaminants, and the way in which pedestrians access the area. The pedestrian element of your assessment can cover pedestrian footwear and behaviour too.

Prevent Slip Risks

Taking reasonable steps to prevent slips may require a deep clean, treating the surface, resurfacing with more secure coverings, removing mats, or erecting handrails. You also need to adopt measures to prevent and contain spills. With regard to pedestrian access, prevent and control pedestrian access in a clear, planned way.

Other measures

Beyond creating and implementing an adequate Slip Risk Assessment and Prevention Process, what can you do? Despite your best efforts, you can still be sued for slips and falls on your property. To ensure that you are going above and beyond in your efforts to safeguard against accidents:

  • Provide training for staff on the risk factors that can lead to slips (such as inappropriate footwear, ignoring warning signage, etc.).
  • Keep regular visual checks on your shop floor, production floor, and bathrooms to ensure they are safe and dry and that barriers and signage are erected while spills are being removed.
  • If your premises contains outdoor areas such as a car park, pay particular attention to these, particularly in winter, when wet leaves, flooding, and icy conditions can make the environment more difficult to keep safe.
  • Operators of filling stations know that petrol stations offer specific hazards, not only because they contain substantial outdoor areas, but also because they store and sell a highly flammable liquid. This means they have to be licensed by Local Authorities.
  • Implement a compliance system that shows inspectors (and solicitors involved in a potential claim) that you have thorough, date- and time-stamped documentation detailing your risk-assessment and slip-prevention measures. An easy-to-use system that allows you to upload your inspection documents and log your inspections in a timely fashion ensures that your slip-risk prevention process fulfills health and safety requirements and is simple to maintain. You know that you are implementing all the measures necessary to protect the safety of your staff and visitors, and you have the documentation on hand to prove it.

Do you need help creating and maintaining a system to prevent slips, trips, and falls on your premises? It may take just a few simple steps to implement a system that keeps employees and customers safe and protects you against costly and distressing claims.

For more information on ensuring you are compliant in the area of slips, trips, and falls, contact caroline@ticcbox.com, and find out how you can get the peace of mind you need.