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How retail and leisure organisations can cut the risk of slips and trips

Organisations operating in the retail and leisure sector can take some simple steps to reduce the risk of slips and trips.

According to the latest data from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the sector accounts for more than one-fifth of all major injuries caused by slip or trip accidents at work.

Although the majority of the UK may have seen the last of the harsh winter weather, duty holders must still be aware of the danger posed by rainwater or spillages, which can make surfaces slippery.

Aviva's ongoing Simply Safety Campaign is aimed at reminding people about the risk of slips and trips in the workplace, which can threaten employees and visitors to premises.

Phil Grace, liability risk manager at Aviva, said: "As we say goodbye to the ice and snow it is important to remember that the risk of slips and trips remains. It is particularly important for the retail and leisure industry where more than 2,000 people working in the sector were badly injured in a slip or trip at work in 2008-09.

"Introducing just a few simple and low cost measures can cut the risk of slips and trips resulting in serious injury to staff and members of the public."

The majority of slips occur when spillages - including food, water and other substances - make the floor conducive to such incidents.

Mr Grace noted that 90 per cent of such incidents are caused in this way, which highlights the need for proper cleaning processes.

He advised that the traditional response of using a mop and bucket may not always suffice, especially when used on a shiny tiled floor, which will require the use of absorbent cloth or paper to remove all traces of moisture.

"All spills should be clearly marked until they can be cleaned and appropriate matting may be required to ensure rainwater is not trampled through the premises," Grace continued.

"Matting is also vital in reducing the risks at fresh food counters where dropped items such as grapes or leaves can pose a serious hazard."

Recently, the HSE recorded an incident in which a shop assistant was awarded £200,000 as compensation for injuries she sustained as a result of a slipping on cream spilt by a customer. It was revealed that, although cleaners had mopped the original spillage, the employee slipped as the floor was still greasy.

People with responsibility for managing premises should make sure that suitable and efficient housekeeping procedures are implemented. Walkways should be cleared of obstacles, while any cables that cross them need to be covered.

As a last resort, floor surfaces should be assessed and consideration given to laying a more slip-resistant floor with higher surface roughness.

Grace added: "Business owners should conduct a thorough risk assessment. Firstly, look for slip and trip hazards, decide who might slip or trip and how, consider the risks and if there are suitable controls in place.

"Always record the findings and if changes need to be made, make them. Inspections should take place on a regular basis to ensure all surfaces are free from slip or trip hazards.

Systems should be in place to ensure that spills are identified or reported and cleaned up immediately."

When accidents do take place, Mr Grace advised that it is important to gather as much information as possible about the incident, including the injured person's details, the type of injury they have suffered, and things such as the weather conditions, the state of the floor and the cleaning regime.

This will help organisations provide crucial information if a claim is made, allowing them to reduce their future risk.

Failure to follow such health and safety measures could leave organisations exposed to the risk of facing legal action, which may lead to a fine and cause damage to their reputation.

"Those managing premises need to take health and safety seriously. Failure to do so can have devastating consequences both from a cost and a reputation perspective," Mr Grace concluded.

To download the Simply Safety factsheet visit:
https://help.aviva.co.uk/risksolutions/tools-and-templates/doc-list ADNFCR-3408-ID-800452093-ADNFCR