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Common Causes of Slips, Trips, and Falls in the Workplace

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According to Ireland’s Health and Safety Authority (HSA), every working day seven people are hurt due to a slip, trip, or fall in the workplace. 22% of these types of injuries lead to the employee taking a month or longer off work. With a large number of the claims received by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board relating to slips, trips, and falls, employers still have much to do in terms of improving the safety of the environment they provide for their employees. Whilst there is a perception that a slip or fall is a less severe type of injury, these types of injuries can in fact have devastating long term consequences for the injured party and, in some cases, can even be a cause of death. Understanding common causes of slips, trips, and falls is therefore beneficial for both employers and workers alike, as it allows for effective prevention measures to be implemented. Here we explore some of the most common scenarios that can lead to personal injury claims for a slip, trip, or fall.

Poor housekeeping

One of the primary causes of slips, trips, and falls is poor housekeeping. Cluttered work areas, improperly stored materials, and obstructed pathways create hazards that can lead to accidents. Loose cables, extension cords, and tools left unattended can become tripping hazards. It is essential to maintain a clean and organised work environment by regularly removing obstacles, cleaning up spills promptly, and securing loose items.

Wet or slippery surfaces

Wet or slippery surfaces are a major contributing factor to slip, trip, and fall accidents. Spilled liquids, wet floors from mopping or rainwater, and greasy substances can make walking surfaces hazardous. Insufficient drainage systems, ineffective matting, or improper cleaning techniques can exacerbate the risk. Employers should ensure that proper warning signs are displayed, that wet floors are promptly cleaned and dried, and that appropriate slip-resistant flooring or matting is installed in areas prone to spills.

Uneven or damaged flooring

Uneven or damaged flooring is another common cause of slips, trips, and falls. Cracked, broken, or uneven surfaces can cause individuals to lose their balance and fall. It is crucial for employers to regularly inspect flooring throughout the workplace and address any necessary repairs or replacements promptly. Proper maintenance, including fixing loose tiles, filling cracks, and providing adequate lighting, can significantly reduce the risk of accidents.

Inadequate lighting

Inadequate lighting can contribute to slips, trips, and falls by obscuring hazards and making it difficult to see potential dangers. Dimly lit stairwells, hallways, or work areas increase the risk of accidents. Employers should ensure that all areas of the workplace are well lit, especially high-traffic areas, staircases, and outdoor pathways. Regularly replacing burnt-out bulbs and installing additional lighting fixtures where necessary can enhance visibility and minimise accidents.

Improper use of ladders and equipment

Improper use of ladders and equipment can lead to falls and serious injuries. Employees may not receive proper training on ladder safety, leading to incorrect setup or overreaching while on a ladder. Using equipment inappropriately or failing to follow safety guidelines can also result in accidents. Employers should provide comprehensive training programmes on ladder safety, proper use of equipment, and emphasise the importance of following manufacturer instructions to prevent falls.

Lack of safety equipment

A lack of adequate safety equipment can contribute to slips, trips, and falls in the workplace. Absence or improper use of guardrails, handrails, and protective barriers can increase the risk of accidents, especially in elevated areas or near openings. Employers should ensure that all necessary safety measures are in place, including the installation of guardrails and handrails, providing personal protective equipment (PPE) such as non-slip footwear, and implementing fall protection systems where required.

Lack of employee awareness and training

Insufficient employee awareness and training regarding slips, trips, and falls can contribute to accidents. Employees may not be aware of potential hazards or the proper procedures for preventing accidents. It is vital for employers to conduct regular safety training sessions, emphasising the importance of identifying and reporting hazards, using proper techniques to prevent slips and falls, and fostering a culture of safety awareness among all employees. By educating and empowering workers, employers can significantly reduce the occurrence of slips, trips, and falls in the workplace.

Rushing or distraction

Rushing or being distracted while walking or working can increase the likelihood of slips, trips, and falls. When employees are in a hurry or preoccupied with other tasks, they may not pay attention to their surroundings, leading to accidents. Encouraging employees to take their time, focus on their movements, and avoid distractions like mobile devices can help mitigate these risks. Creating a work environment that promotes mindfulness and emphasises the importance of staying alert can contribute to accident prevention.

Improper storage and handling of materials

Improper storage and handling of materials can create hazardous conditions that contribute to slips, trips, and falls. Stacked objects that are unstable or stacked too high can topple over and cause accidents. Heavy items that are not properly lifted or carried can result in loss of balance and falls. Employers should establish clear guidelines for the storage and handling of materials, including proper stacking techniques, weight limits, and the use of appropriate lifting equipment. Regular inspections should be conducted to ensure compliance with these guidelines.

Lack of risk assessment and prevention strategies

Failure to conduct thorough risk assessments and implement appropriate prevention strategies can leave the workplace vulnerable to slips, trips, and falls. Each worksite is unique, and identifying potential hazards requires careful evaluation. Employers should perform regular risk assessments to identify areas prone to accidents and implement effective control measures. This may include installing handrails, anti-slip surfaces, and clear signage to alert employees to potential risks.

Has your employer failed to adequately protect you from a slip, trip, or fall accident?

With slips, trips, and falls accounting for a large percentage of the claims received by the Personal Injuries Board in Ireland, it’s likely that you may have the grounds to claim compensation against your employer if they failed to put in place or maintain adequate measures to prevent workplace accidents. If you have suffered an injury at work, and you believe your employer to be negligent, call us on 1800 390 555 and an experienced member of staff will discuss your situation and potential next steps. You can also email info@mccarthy.ie and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is a seasoned solicitor with almost 20 years of experience, specialises in personal injury and medical negligence claims, focusing particularly on high-value compensation cases. His extensive litigation experience spans Circuit Court, High Court and Supreme Court levels. John's practice involves a diverse range of cases, from personal injury and wrongful death to property damage, defective products, professional negligence and judicial reviews.

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