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How to Prevent Slips, Trips and Falls – 6 Point Plan


Slips, trips and falls can occur anywhere, including on level walking surfaces, ramps and stairways. They are frequently the result of any combination of factors, such as floor surface, dressing material used, improper design, lack of repair, poor housekeeping and exposure to outdoor elements at entrances and exits. Personal factors, such as age, illness, emotional state, fatigue, Inattention and poor vision, may also contribute to falls. To reduce the tendency towards accidents, your work environment must adapt to young, old, short, tall, able and disabled people, and the visually impaired. The following steps can help you address some of the problems associated with slip, trip and fall accidents. 

Step One

Collect and analyse slip, trip and fall statistics for your organisation. Include incident and claims data. Provide managers, supervisors and maintenance staff with slip/fall statistics for their areas. In fact, all employees need to be educated in this way too!

Identify and address issues raised by your findings. There should be a sound and basic recording system. Know what work is being done in your organisation and ensure it is following some maintenance or operational plan. Have a plan for footpaths, car parks, interior floor surfaces and other walking surface improvements. With limited resources it is better to have a plan with a schedule in order to demonstrate that the problem is being worked on, than to totally ignore the problem. There is a need to prioritise more hazardous / dangerous defects if resources mean that a phased response is required. The schedules for this type of work must be realistic, to ensure that work is done within a sensible timescale.

Step Two – Housekeeping; Inspection, Maintenance and Repair Systems

Maintain proper housekeeping procedures. The single most important step that can be taken to prevent slips and falls is very simple – keep floors clean and dry! Ensure that you do what is reasonably practicable. Don’t forget to cover housekeeping principles and the need for clean-up of spills during all new employee Inductions. Involve your entire staff in a “keep our environment safe” effort. 
  • Clean all spills immediately upon becoming aware of them.
  • Use warning signs and verbally warn staff in the area. Sufficient signage must be readily available and staff should know where to locate it. It must be understood that the placement of warning signs should not be taken as permission to delay cleaning the spillage/obstruction. 
  • Remove obstacles from walkways.
  • Secure mats/carpets that do not lie flat.
  • Train cleaning staff.
  • Encourage all staff to report defects.

You should have informal and formal (recorded) inspection systems. Staff should report problems when they see them. At the centre of these systems, have staff designated to perform inspections. The nature and frequency of these inspections will depend on the nature of the location. What is done there? A lathe operation where machine oils leak onto floors and other surfaces will need more attention than a quiet warehouse where there is minimal activity. When damage or defects are noted, make the area safe. Cordon it off, place warning notices, verbally warn staff and then prioritise the repairs to be undertaken (as soon as is practicable).

Step Three – Develop a Programme

Develop a programme to reduce the number of injuries and accidents due to slips, trips and falls to employees and to others. Use engineering controls, training, operational procedures and hazard awareness methods to accomplish this. 

Is there an issue about lighting or do the staff need specialised safety footwear? Do you provide or subsidise the provision of this personal protective equipment [PPE]? Is the wearing of PPE enforced? Once you have decided that PPE needs to be worn, enforce the use of PPE by your staff and visitors too!

A close review should be made of all relevant organisational policies and practices to ensure that they are reasonable, realistic and cover what the organisation actually does. For example, the policy may dictate cleaning floor surfaces daily yet work pressures result in this being done inadequately or reduced to once weekly. 

The programme must include the need for inspection, maintenance and repair action. 

Include non-organisational personnel. Require contractors and suppliers to adhere to safe delivery, unloading and work site practices. Consider the addition of hold harmless or indemnification clauses to contracts.

Step Four – Educate

Educate all of your employees and visitors/contractors. Stay with visitors/contractors and/or control their movements/actions. Teach your employees to become more aware of potential hazards and take immediate steps to correct these dangerous situations. Use meetings, bulletin boards and posters to get the safety message across.

Organisations have employees travelling throughout their facilities every day. They should watch for and note an potential safety issues. These issues must be recorded, whether in a diary or a more specific reporting system. Then, if not before, they should be acted upon. 

Cultivate employee input on safety issues, be responsive with solutions and explain the organisation’s limitations, if a suggestion is not used. 

Step Five – Investigate

Conduct thorough accident investigations. With the knowledge gained from thorough and accurate accident investigations, any deficiencies in your fall prevention programme can be detected and corrected.

Take statements from the accident victim and other witnesses soon after an accident occurs. Photograph the accident scene, equipment involved, or other conditions that may have caused the accident. It is better to know at the time what was going on than rely on memories several days or weeks later. Include statements from people who say they saw nothing, even though they were in the vicinity. This prevents them saying later (when a claim comes in) that they “did something”,

Ensure that all employees know their responsibilities and the reasons that they do specific activities in a certain way. They must feel confident that they are doing the right thing, at the right time, and in accordance with safety practices. The employee and his/her supervisor must understand the reasons and rationale for the work they do. Too often, you hear statements to the effect that, “ I did that because the boss told me to, although I had some concerns about safety at the time.”

Once your initial investigations are completed, make sure you notify your insurance broker/insurer of a potential claim.

Step Six – Be Proactive

Be proactive in dealing with potential claimants. Arrange for medical evaluation, build and maintain rapport if you are handling claims in-house, but always liaise with your insurance broker/insurer before taking such action so not to prejudice your position in the event of a claim.

One of the most common forms of insurance fraud is the staged accident. Slip, trip and fall accidents are so commonplace that they are easy to stage. “Slip and fall” artists often target public sector organisations. Be on guard for phoney accidents! 

What to do next? 

If you would like to talk to an expert for more information about your insurance programme, or to discuss any other risk or insurance need, please give us a call. 

Call 01789 761670 

Web: www.morrisoninsurance.co.uk

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