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Trip hazards

Trip hazards (which include slipping and tripping accidents) cause employers a lot of money in compensation pay outs by employees who have been injured as a result of the employer’s negligence.

Implementing a simple check list in the workplace can ensure that employers have satisfied their duty to take reasonable steps to reduce the risk of trip hazards, which will prevent the number of work-related injuries that arise as a result of trip hazards.

It is important that this checklist is used as a guide – the best action an employer can take is to physically examine their workplace, identifying the trip hazards and associated risks themselves.

Potential Issue#1: Entrances

The two main issues to consider relating to entrances in the work place are whether it is possible for the floor to become slippery (e.g. because it is possible for rain to collect there), and whether there are any trip hazards that trail or obstruct the entrance.

For the former of these issues, suggested action includes finding out where the water is coming from and preventing it from entering and investing in more slip-resistant flooring. It is also important to remove the water as soon as possible. In order to do this the employer should consider what cleaning system it has in place, and whether placing radiators/heating in the area will help do this.

For the latter issue, employers should ensure there are no trailing wires or obstacles in the way of the entrance. They should also check that any mats are fixed securely to the ground, and do not present a trip hazard.

Potential Issue#2: Corridors and Rooms

Employers should check whether there are any level changes in the floors in these areas. If there are, they should emphasise this hazard with extra lighting and/or bright coloured paint.

These areas should also not have any loose tiles or jagged flooring. Any loose/jagged areas should be fixed as soon as possible.

Employers should also check whether the floor is particularly susceptible to becoming slippery. If it is, they should use anti-slip floor coating on the surface, to reduce the risk of people slipping.

Potential Issue#3: Outdoor Areas

It is important that no obstacles or trip hazards are present on fire escapes, steps, pathways or slopes. Regular maintenance of these areas should prevent a build up of materials from accumulating. If plants are becoming an obstacle, they should be cut back on a regular basis.

Where there are holes barriers should be put up to clearly warn users of the hazard. They should also be highlighted with a sign/warning or extra lighting. These holes should be repaired as soon as possible.

Potential Issue#4: Stairs/Ramps

Employers should ensure that where there are steps in/around the building, handrails should also be available for use. These should be easy to use.

The edge of steps (especially steep ones) should be highlighted, preferably with a different colour, and a non-slip coating should be used on them.

Any steps should be the same height, and the same width apart. They should also be kept clean and free of obstacles at all times.

Potential Issue#5: Work Areas

All work areas, both individual and shared, should be maintained and free from contamination.

Employers should also check that any ventilation in these areas do not produce condensation, particularly so much so that drips onto furniture and the floor.

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