Avoid workplace slips and falls this winter
Personal injuries caused by slips on ice at work. Find out whether you have a claim for compensation and what action employers and employees should take when temperatures fall.
Winter is now well and truly upon us and this means a greater risk of snow and ice across the country, especially in the coming weeks, with the UK in the grip of an ongoing cold snap.
As a result, both employers and their staff are urged to take all precautions necessary to tackle the problem of slips and falls in the workplace or face the likelihood that accident at work claims will be par for the course for those who are blasé about health and safety.
What are the risks?
Slips, trips and falls are the most common workplace injury in the UK each year and 95 per cent of serious accidents at work of this sort result in broken bones.
According to data compiled by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), more than one-third of all reported major injuries come as a result of a slip or fall, while 20 per cent of injuries which result in members of staff taking three or more days off work fall into this category.
In addition, slips and trips result on average in two fatalities each year – a figure that should have all businesses seeking to successfully mitigate the risk of accidents of this kind across the country.
Each year, the costs to businesses across the UK in terms of lost productivity and additional costs concerning slips, trips and falls comes to more than £500 million, while the cost to the National Health Service in treating these injuries amounts to around £133 million.
The compensation process
In the event of an accident at work, Gary Lee, Chartered Legal Executive at personal injury specialists Hayward Baker, advised: “[The] first thing … is to make sure that the employers are aware that an accident happened and that injuries, if only relatively minor at the time, are noted.”
Those affected by a slip or fall in the workplace should then contact a firms specialising in injury law to examine their case, as these individuals will have the expertise and experience to tell them if they believe their claim will be a success or not.
Mr Lee noted: “Most accidents such as this can be avoided. If it is known that there is a risk of ice/frost then they should take action. Either by ensuring that there are adequate grit supplies and ensuring that the grit is put down, cordoning off high risk areas and supplying suitable footwear.
“Employers should recognise that slips on ice can result in serious injuries … but a few sensible precautions should reduce if not remove the risk entirely.”
Advice for employers
The HSE has revealed the greatest barrier to firms taking positive action to reduce the risk of slips and trips is predominantly their own apathy.
With this in mind, company bosses should consider the costs not only in terms of the wellbeing and future safety of their staff, but also the fact that a lack of proper risk management can result in a hefty hit on their business’s bottom line, as compensation costs can quickly mount if they fail to take affirmative action.
Methods for mitigating the risk of slips, trips and falls are surprisingly straightforward in many cases, with the effective management and clean up of spillages and maintenance regimes high on the priority list.
Furthermore, fitting matting systems in areas where floors could be slippery, as well as the specification of appropriate flooring when taking on premises can help to ensure members of staff keep their footing even in the most adverse conditions.
Moreover, effective training and supervision should be top of the agenda, as keeping workers informed regarding best practice for staying safe even when the weather turns is extremely important.
Finally, the HSE has launched its Shattered Lives scheme to offer advice to businesses and their staff regarding best practice for avoiding the most common causes of slips and falls in the workplace. For more information head to the HSE’s official website and click on the link to the campaign.