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Don’t slip up on safety

Employers should consider more than just slip-resistant footwear when protecting employees from slips, trips and falls – this is the advice from a new joint initiative between the UK’s leading safety experts Arco, and leading slip management experts Bonasystems.

Recent research by Bonasystems reveals that three-quarters of floor surfaces tested failed to achieve a safe standard of slip resistance. In some cases, a floor’s slip resistance was so poor, it would have an accident probability as high as 1 in 2[1].

Testing floors with the Pendulum test (the HSE approved method of measuring slip resistance in the UK), reveals many employees, as well as members of the public, are being put at unnecessary risk of injury. Businesses too are opening themselves up to the risk of prosecution and reputational damage by not taking the proper measures to avoid slips, trips and falls on their premises.

Each year, slips, trips and falls are the single biggest type of accident in the workplace, injuring over 180,000 employees and costing employers over £500 million, according to the HSE[2]. However, most Health and Safety managers believe that they are doing everything they can to prevent slips within their environment, which often includes the provision of ‘slip-resistant’ footwear for workers. What many businesses are unaware of is that there are many factors which could impact an employee’s, and the general public’s, risk of a slip.

Additional factors that can contribute to slip risk include:

  • Contaminants that may be on the floor surface or footwear
  • Footwear worn by members of the public
  • The floor maintenance regime
  • The range of floor types
  • Floors degrading over time

Because of these contributing factors, the provision of slip-resistant footwear alone for employees won’t mitigate the risk to an acceptably safe level. A recent survey of 175 health and safety professionals uncovered almost 70% buy slip-resistant footwear ‘to reduce the number of slips, trips and falls in my business’[3]. However, over 60% of the same group had not conducted the necessary testing on the footwear to determine that it was fit-for-purpose in the intended environment3.

When it comes to slip-resistant footwear, the EN standards recommend that ‘It is always better to use protective equipment that has been shown to perform well under test conditions that are as similar as possible to the conditions of use.’

Steven Philips, Managing Director of Bonasystems says, ‘While most Health and Safety managers acknowledge they have a slip risk, their misunderstanding in terms of best practice means that many are not always taking the correct measures needed to keep their business safe from prosecution and keep employees as well as members of the public safe from avoidable slip hazards. Consequently, Health and Safety professionals must do more to address slip risk holistically. Specifically, they need to ensure their floor surface is maintained and, in some cases, treated to a standard that would dramatically reduce the slip risk probability and where applicable, procure footwear for employees which are fit for purpose in the working environment.”

Neil Hewitt, Director of QSHE UK and Asia, at Arco, said, “I urge employers to carry out a slip risk assessment, review the suitability of their employee’s footwear and ensure their floor cleaning regime is correct. This can not only help protect employees and in some sectors, members of the public from injury, but also protect their business from potentially lengthy court cases, fines, personal injury claims and higher insurance premiums.”

For more information about the anti-slip campaign, and how you can address your business’s slip risk, please visit www.dontslipup.co.uk

 


[1] 1300 Independent slip risk assessment studies conducted by Bonasystems in 301 locations across the UK. Accident probability is given based on the correlation to the Pendulum Test Values (PTV) as guided by the HSE.

[2] http://www.hse.gov.uk/slips/costs.htm

[3] Independent footwear survey conducted by Arco sent to 200 Health and Safety Managers which 175 responded.

 

 

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