Slips are one of the most common causes of serious accidents in the workplace. We’ve put together a guide to help you keep your workplace safe from slippery floors.
Floors and other working surfaces can become slippery for a variety of reasons…from mopping or cleaning a floor to materials or debris being left in walkways.
Falls from slips and trips in the workplace could potentially lead to disability or death. Accidents such as these can result in severe costs for both the employees and employers.
Workplaces can get slippery easily, from a rainy day in a retail shop to a spill-prone car workshop. Nonetheless, it is up to the employer to eliminate or mitigate the hazard make sure both staff and visitors are safe.
As commercial cleaners, we are aware that cleaning itself can create slip hazards, particularly when people enter the area being cleaned, such as cleaners, staff, or the public.
Common hazards include flooring that is left wet or damp after mopping, vacuum cleaner and buffing machines with power cords stretched across the floor which people could trip or slip on, as well as liquids being split on to the floor.
Prevention of accidents due to slippery floors is often straightforward, for example using warning cones around recently cleaned floors can warn people not to walk on the floor whilst it is wet and still slippery.
How Do Slips Happen?
Slips occur when there is not enough traction between the foot and the floor. Common causes of slips are:
- Uneven flooring or flooring in poor condition
- Wet or damp floors
- Accidental Spills
- Weather hazards
- Floors with uneven traction
- Poor housekeeping
How to Prevent Slippery Floors
- Use mats with bevelled edges in entrance areas with a backing material that will not slide.
- Display “Wet Floor” cones and signs to make people aware of the potential hazard.
- If there is a liquid spillage, clean it up or make arrangements for it to be cleaned as soon as possible.
- Tell your employer about any work situation that you think is dangerous, such as a broken floor tile.
- Wear the correct footwear for the workplace.
Managing the Prevention of Slippery Floors
General workplace risk assessments help employers become aware of slip hazards which can prevent slippery floor risks while at work. Read the HSE guide to risk assessments.
The best way to prevent slips in the workplace is good management. Employers should carry out relevant risk assessments and put in place control measures to reduce risk.
This involves identifying any slip hazards on the premises, deciding how they can be eliminated or minimised and putting a process to achieve this in place.
In terms of creating a process for tackling slips, the HSE recommends employers look at four key areas:
Employers and their staff should identify areas where slipping hazards could arise, and then develop methods to eliminate the potential hazard. This includes selecting materials, equipment and processes to prevent slip hazards.
Employers should ensure workers are involved and committed to reducing slipping and tripping risks. This can be achieved by providing staff with training on the importance of preventing slips and trips and making individual employees responsible for keeping certain areas of the workplace free of slip hazards.
Employers should check the control measures introduced are being implemented properly. This means, for example, checking that floors are not left wet, good housekeeping is maintained and leaks from equipment are cleaned up immediately. Records should also be kept of any major cleaning or maintenance work, such as repairs to flooring.
Monitoring and Review
Employers should monitor the effectiveness of their control measures for slips. For example, by checking accident and investigation reports and consulting with staff on the effectiveness of the controls.
Finally, The Law
The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSW Act) requires employers to ensure the health and safety of all employees and anyone who may be affected by their work, so far as is reasonably practicable. This includes taking steps to control slip and trip risks.
Employees have a duty not to put themselves or others in danger and must use any
safety equipment provided.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require
employers to assess risks (including slip and trip risks) and, where necessary, take
action to address them.
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 require floors to
be suitable, in good condition and free from obstructions. People should be able to
move around safely.