Slip Accident or Corporate Negligence?

Slip Injury Matters

Slip accidents cause thousands of serious injuries every year. In the UK alone there are 10,000+ serious injuries to people at work every year. In the USA and Australia experts are predicting that 50% of over 65’s will suffer a serious fall each year – some of those caused by slipping. Worst of all, in developed countries while accidents and injuries are declining, the level of slipping injuries is rising. Despite being the biggest cause of serious injuries, most businesses will not have a slip prevention plan, they won’t know how or when to test for slip risk, the risk assessment will overlook slip hazards, and staff will have no training on slip prevention. It is time for a change in attitudes towards slip prevention.

Most Floors Can Be Kept Safer

According to experts, most slip accidents could be prevented. Standards for slip testing are poor. Some slip tests do not detect contamination or the effects of wet floors, and however most slips happen on wet or polluted floors. Most businesses have a poor understanding of how to monitor and manage floor safety, most do not monitor slip risks or already test new floors for slip resistance. Cleaning and maintenance staff should all appreciate floor safety and know how to keep floors safe. Every business should have simple policies and procedures that ensure new floors are fit for purpose and that floor cleaning and maintenance keeps the floor safe throughout its life.

Slips: the Cinderella of the Safety industry

Slip prevention is the Cinderella of the safety industry. Every commercial building you visit will have a fire safety certificate, fire exits, trained fire officers etc. They will be aware of trip hazards, they will test electrical equipment and they will only use certified gas engineers or plumbers. But most floors you walk on will be slippery if they are wet or polluted and most Health & Safety Managers will have no idea how to measure or monitor slip risk. When floors are purchased or alternation there probably won’t be a test done for change to slip resistance. Cleaning and maintenance methods could easily be checked to ensure that floors are kept free from risk… but the chances are no slip testing is done.

Improving slip safety – it is really easy

It is easy to enhance slip safety. In most businesses a simple slip test whenever floors are changed will consequence in floors being many times safer. The slip risk of some floors will change. For example, a kitchen floor gets slippery every day, while a swimming pool shower room may get slippery over time as body fats collect on the floor. So, it is important to monitor the changes that matter. You don’t need to monitor the kitchen floor 3 times every day because you know the slipperiness of the floor will change, but you do need to know how safe it is when clean and dry, how slippery it can become during the day, and how you will control the risk. It is also basic to monitor the slip resistance whenever the floor is changed or damaged so that the risk is understood and managed. In a pool changing room, it is important to know if the normal cleaning regime is cleaning off the contamination, or if the slip risk is rising. Then you can manage the risks and take action before the risk of someone slipping reaches an unacceptable level and someone is injured. In a shopping mall a small change to the cleaning machines or pads or cleaning fluids can rule to the floor becoming slippery over time… until on the first event someone walks on a wet floor there is a slipping accident.

Insurance costs may force a change

The insurance industry is currently picking up most of the costs of slipping accidents. Currently, an insurance company may pay out for several slip accidents on the same floor. As the insurance industry begins to realise they are paying for the rising cost of slip accidents, they will begin to take action, and charge higher premiums for businesses that do not manage slip risks.

Compensation claims may force businesses to enhance floor safety

Compensation claims after a slip injury generally consequence in small payouts and many companies will consider it a lower cost than proactive slip prevention. Every building owner/manager should consider slipping risks, should conduct risk assessments, and should have trained staff who monitor the effectiveness of their cleaning, and take action when the level of risk changes. Some building owners try to get away with using a slip test that are known to be unable to detect contamination in order to suggest that floors are safe. That kind of deception should be outlawed. Perhaps the growing compensation culture will have the silver lining of forcing businesses to take slips seriously.

The Happy Ending…

Let’s rescue the Cinderella of health and safety and give her the importance she deserves. A slip prevention policy can save your business money on flooring, cleaning, maintenance, insurance and it will save you time, money and headaches associated with slip injury claims. All public buildings should have a plan to keep floors safe for staff, customers or anyone using the building and should have staff trained and equipped to monitor and manage slipping risks.

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