Simply Safety - manage the risk of slips and trips and reduce accidents to the public, warns Aviva

Article date: 6 May 2010

With slips and trips accountable for more than half of all reported accidents to members of the public, Aviva - as part of its Simply Safety campaign - is warning anyone in control of premises regularly visited by members of the public to adopt good health and safety practices.

Phil Grace, liability risk manager, Aviva, says: “To manage the risks of slipping or tripping, all business owners must have a good management system in place to help identify any problem areas and ensure that effective solutions are implemented.

“Most slips and trips are due to poor housekeeping such as wet floors or inappropriate or damaged flooring, which can be quickly and easily solved by taking simple and low cost measures. However, it is imperative that businesses take such measures seriously as legal action brought as a result of an injury can be extremely damaging to businesses, especially where the public are involved.

“Good housekeeping is the first and most important method of preventing falls due to slips and trips as 90% of slips occur when the floor is wet with water or contaminated by spillages of food, drink or other substances. All spills should be clearly marked until they can be cleaned and where water might be carried into premises, appropriate matting may be required. Any obstacles should be removed from walkways and any exposed cables that have to cross walkways should be covered.

“Across the industry we have seen numerous large losses, some in excess of £1 million, as a result of members of the public slipping or tripping in a public venue.  Accidents have been caused by wet floors in the lavatories and spilt drinks on the dance floor, in some cases causing significant injury.”     

Other incidents, recorded by the HSE*, include a council fined £11,500 for health and safety failings after a lady tripped while entering a bowling club pavilion, hurt her head and later died. The HSE found a 15cm by 12cm hole in the linoleum floor. The council admitted it had failed to carry out an adequate risk assessment of the flooring after it had suspended safety checks at the pavilion to concentrate on higher priority safety work. It cost the council just £150 to repair the floor yet they were fined £11,500 and ordered to pay £11,800 prosecution costs.1

Another incident recorded by the HSE involved a supermarket worker who was awarded £200,000 for injuries she suffered when she slipped on cream spilt by a customer. Cleaners had mopped the original spillage but the worker fell heavily at the same spot because the floor had not been cleaned effectively and was left greasy.2

“It is vital that a business owner obtains information about an accident involving a member of the public as soon as possible after it has occurred. In the first instance this will allow the owner of the premises to take whatever action is necessary to prevent a further accident from occurring. 

"Secondly, knowing that an accident has occurred will enable information to be collected, such as the injured person’s details, the nature of the injury they have suffered, the weather conditions, the state of the floor, the cleaning regime etc. All this information will prove invaluable if a claim is made at some point in the future,” advises Grace.

“To minimise the risk of accidents, business owners should conduct a thorough risk assessment. Firstly, look for slip and trip hazards, decide who might be harmed and how, consider the risks and if there are suitable controls in place. If not, determine new or improved methods of control and implement.

"Always record the findings and conduct routine inspections on a regular basis to ensure all surfaces are free from slip or trip hazards. And if it’s not already in place, set up a programme to ensure that spills are identified or reported and cleaned up immediately.

“And be sure that good cleaning methods are being used,” adds Grace, “as these will maintain the floor grip and significantly reduce risks. If the hazard remains after such changes, it may be necessary to lay a more slip resistant floor with higher surface roughness.”

To download the Simply Safety factsheet visit: www.aviva.co.uk/risksolutions/riskadvice/#safety (link is no longer active)

-ends-

For further information, please contact:
Jo Rosenberg or Heather Price at Staniforth on 0161 919 8014/8010 or Sally Leeman at Aviva on 01603 684225/07789 27067

Notes to editors:

* HSE is the Health and Safety Executive

1 www.hse.gov.uk/slips/experience/bowling.htm April 2010

2 www.hse.gov.uk/slips/experience/supermarket.htm April 2010

Aviva is the world’s fifth largest* insurance group, serving 53 million customers across Europe, North America and Asia Pacific.

Aviva's main business activities are long-term savings, fund management and general insurance, with worldwide total sales of £45.1 billion and funds under management of £379 billion at 31 December 2009. 

We are the largest insurance services provider in the UK and one of the leading providers of life and pensions products in Europe.  

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* based on gross worldwide premiums at 31 December 2008.

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