A slip or trip in a hazardous workplace doesn’t bear thinking about.
Poor housekeeping is a major cause of incidents in all types of workplaces and if a worker is lucky, they might escape unscathed with nothing more than injured pride.
But as can often be the case, a worker can sustain serious or even horrific injuries.
In, for example, a hospitality environment such as a busy kitchen prone to splashes and spills, the typical injuries are cuts or burns and head injuries.
One particularly nasty incident involved a chef slipping on a pool of water and in an attempt to prevent his fall, he plunged one arm into a pan of boiling oil. He suffered extreme burns requiring surgery and was off work for almost six months.
The implications were not only plummeting productivity and morale but finding a similarly qualified and skilled stand-in chef to keep trading and prevent a slide of the restaurant’s reputation.
So clearly it is in your best interests to do everything you can to reduce the risk of slips, trips and falls – but where do you start?
- A good kick-off point is to seek input from your workers about potential hazards as they are often more aware of issues due to the nature of their work.
- Spend a day walking around your workplace with your health and safety representative monitoring worker activity and tasks, identifying potential slip and trip hazards, and making a checklist.
- Recognise housekeeping issues, such as stacked boxes or supplies, cables, general mess or fluid spills or leaks, take appropriate action then monitor areas to avoid any repeat activity.
- Provide bins for workers or customers to dispose of rubbish, ensure containers have secure lids, and install drip trays beneath machines or water coolers.
- If your workplace is prone to spills, splashes, leaks or moisture build-up, consider installing slip-resistant flooring designed to function even when coming into contact with liquids.
- Acid-etching of hard surface floors, including tiles, may help improve slip-resistance properties in wet conditions but can wear off quickly depending on foot traffic volume.
- Profiled metal floor surfaces can be effective depending on what type of footwear your workers wear but can be more slippery than expected – mild steel is better as it gets more abrasive and slip resistant with age.
- If a path, walkway or stairway has uneven sections or holes, possible fixes include relaying the surface, filling in holes or installing handrails – but if these are impractical, then highlight hazards with eye-catching colours, erect warning signs or improve lighting to make the risk more obvious.
- Workers or customers entering your business might carry water or mud inside on their footwear, making the surface slippery – a possible solution is laying slip-resistant rubber or absorbent matting.
- Introduce an effective hazard monitoring and cleaning system to react quickly and efficiently to any spills, leaks, splashes or accumulation of material that might pose a risk.
Visit workcover.nsw.gov.au for more advice or call us on 13 10 50.