SAFETY FIRST GUIDE TO PREVENTING SLIPS, TRIPS AND FALLS

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1 SAFETY FIRST GUIDE TO PREVENTING SLIPS, TRIPS AND FALLS

2 ACKNOWLEDGEMENT Comcare acknowledges WorkCover New South Wales for providing the information used as a basis for this guide. DISCLAIMER This booklet is supplied on the terms and understanding that Comcare and the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission (the Commission) are not responsible for the results of any action taken on the basis of information contained in this publication, nor for any error in or omission from this publication. Comcare and the Commission expressly disclaim all and any liability and responsibility to any person, in respect of anything, and of the consequences of anything, done or omitted to be done, by any such person in reliance, whether wholly or partially, upon the whole or any part of this publication. For an authoritative understanding of the legislation in relation to occupation health and safety and Commonwealth employment, you are directed to the relevant legislation, in particular the Occupational Health and Safety Act This booklet should be read in conjunction with the relevant legislation as it is not a substitute for such legislation. PUBLICATION DETAILS Comcare Commonwealth of Australia This work is copyright. Apart from any use permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced, by any process without written permission from Comcare. ISBN ISBN (online) OHS Work Safety GPO Box 9905 Canberra ACT 2601 Comcare Call Centre First published January 2002

3 3 CONTENTS INTRODUCTION 4 Legal framework 5 Costs 5 Classification 5 PREVENTION 6 OHS risk management model 6 1. Identify the hazard 6 2. Assess the risk associated with the hazard 8 3. Control the risk 9 4. Monitor and review the process 11 SLIPS 12 Common hazards 12 TRIPS 13 Common hazards 14 Stairs 14 FALLS 15 Common hazards 15 RESOURCES 16 ATTACHMENTS 17 Attachment A Flooring characteristics and typical applications 17 Attachment B Floor treatments 19 Checklist 1 Workplace inspection to prevent slips, trips and falls 20 Checklist 2 Review of safety management to prevent slips, trips and falls 22 OHS65 PREVENTING AND MANAGING BULLYING AT WORK A GUIDE FOR EMPLOYERS

4 4 INTRODUCTION This guide is designed to: > provide managers and supervisors with an overview of the key facts and issues related to slips, trips and falls > highlight common hazards that contribute to slips, trips and falls > identify a process to minimise slips, trips and falls > identify information sources that will assist managers to implement effective prevention strategies and reduce the potential for injury and associated costs. Slips, trips and falls are among the most common causes of injuries for employees in the Comcare scheme. They also account for a high percentage of injuries reported by members of the public visiting workplaces and sites managed by employers in the Comcare scheme. Workers compensation claims with a date of injury in three financial years indicate that slips, trips and falls of a person accounted for nearly 17 per cent of all accepted claims and more than $37m in direct costs to employers during a three year period. During the same period, approximately 1 in every 266 employees in the Comcare scheme was injured as a result of a slip, trip or fall. When compared to other mechanisms of injury, slips, trips and falls of a person recorded the second highest number of accepted claims as well as the second highest for injuries.

5 5 LEGAL FRAMEWORK Employers are required under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991 (OHS Act) to take all reasonably practical steps to protect the health and safety of their employees at work [s16(1)]. Employers have a further duty of care under section 17 of the OHS Act to ensure that third parties at or near workplaces are protected from risks to their health and safety. Prevention is the best form of protection. Employers therefore need to establish a policy and procedural framework to prevent workplace injury and disease. COSTS The potential for serious injury from slips, trips and falls cannot be overestimated. Such incidents can have critical consequences and long-term effects. Workers compensation may only represent a proportion of the costs associated with an injury or illness. It does not account for related costs such as: > the time to process and manage the injury > increased workloads for other employees > loss of expertise and necessary skills > additional training needed for replacement staff There are many ways to minimise the risks associated with slips, trips and falls. Effective solutions are often simple, costeffective and lead to both immediate and long-term benefits such as: > reduced level of risk > reduced workplace injury > reduced compensation costs > improved communication channels between management and employees > increased productivity. CLASSIFICATION Slips, trips and falls are defined as: > falls from a short height, including falls from furniture, ladders, work platforms, down stairs or landing awkwardly after a jump > falls on the same level, including falls up stairs > all slips, trips and stumbles, even if a fall does not necessarily follow > stepping, kneeling or sitting on objects. > decreased productivity > the human aspect of pain and suffering.

6 6 PREVENTION Effective prevention strategies require knowledge and understanding of where the risk of slips, trips and falls exists and taking action to prevent such incidents. The OHS risk management model is useful to establish the risks that exist in your workplace. OHS RISK MANAGEMENT MODEL The Occupational Health and Safety Code of Practice 2008 (OHS Code 2008) is a key prevention tool designed to help agencies to systematically manage OHS hazards 1. The four risk management steps are: 1. Identify the hazard. 2. Assess the risk associated with the hazard. 3. Control the risk. 4. Monitor and review the process. Many slip, trip and fall hazards do not require an intensive risk analysis. However, hazards still need to be identified, assessed, controlled and monitored to ensure that preventive strategies deal with the appropriate source of risk IDENTIFY THE HAZARD Identifying the hazard is the first step to determining exactly where slips, trips and falls occur in the workplace. The six most common objects or circumstances that were directly involved with the cause of an injury from slips trips and falls in a three year period were: > external traffic and ground surfaces (24%) > internal traffic and ground surfaces (11%) > steps and stairways (10%) > road transport (9%) > holes in the ground (3%) > sitting furniture (3%) 3. 1 Occupational Health and Safety Code of Practice 2008, 2 Identifying hazards in the workplace, publication OHS 10, 3 Sourced from The Commission Data Warehouse data as at 31 August 2009.

7 7 Work environments and employee activities differ between workplaces yet incidents often occur when: > there is an unobserved obstacle or impediment > an individual is unaware of a potential hazard > the type or condition of the floor surface represents a potential hazard. There is scope to design, monitor and maintain the workplace in a way that will eliminate or reduce the hazards faced by employees, visitors and the general public. Employers should be aware of potential hazards and understand their role to eliminate or reduce the problem. There are a number of techniques that can assist employers to gather information including consultation, workplace inspections and OHS management information systems. Consultation Consultation with employees, health and safety committee members, health and safety representatives (HSRs) or employee representatives may highlight any potential hot spots within the organisation. Employees can identify issues relating to: > the design and layout of work areas > activities that are conducted in the work area > normal and informal procedures for carrying out specific tasks > public and staff access. Workplace inspections Arrange regular workplace inspections and pay particular attention to: > floors > stairs > lighting > tasks > personal protective equipment i.e. footwear > housekeeping, cleanliness and cleaning methods > variation in conditions at different times of the day. OHS management information system (OHS MIS) An OHS MIS is critical to the first and last stages of the risk management cycle. In the first stage, the OHS MIS can provide data to set benchmarks on the current level of performance. Injury and incident reports and workers compensation data can help to identify: > the history of slips, trips and falls in the workplace > where the incidents occurred > the source or reasons for the incidents > who is likely to be exposed. Workplace specific OHS statistics and workers compensation claims data are excellent sources for identifying target areas, establishing a benchmark of performance and providing direction for prevention strategies. The planning process is important to ensure that the identified causes of injury are addressed and that resources are allocated to control those hazards that pose a significant risk to safety. Employee records such as sick leave and absenteeism rates can also help to identify injury and illness patterns.

8 8 2. ASSESS THE RISK ASSOCIATED WITH THE HAZARD Once hazards are identified, the next step is to assess the level of risk and prioritise key areas to target prevention. High priority hazards are those that have significant risks and are not adequately controlled. Risk assessments correlate the likelihood of an incident occurring against the possible consequences of the incident. Case study 1 Table 1 shows the risk assessment of a rain-affected entrance foyer. The number of people using the area was identified to determine the likelihood of an incident occurring. Information from incident reports was used to identify the rate of incidents and consequences of injuries already sustained from the hazard. This showed that the rate of occurrence was high and the injuries sustained were minor sprains and strains. The organisation determined that the overall level of risk of injury posed by a slippery floor in the foyer was high and took appropriate preventive action. Table 1 Risk assessment for slippery surface (rain) Very Likely Likely Unlikely Highly Unlikely Fatality High High High Medium Major Injuries High High Medium Medium Minor Injuries High Medium Medium Low Negligible Injuries Medium Medium Low Low

9 9 3. CONTROL THE RISK Identified high-risk hazards must be controlled. Control measures generally fall into three categories: 1. Eliminate the hazard. 2. Minimise the risk. 3. Use back-up controls when all other options have been exhausted. The best way to control a hazard is to eliminate it. There are six identified control strategies known as the hierarchy of control. The strategies are ranked from most effective through to least effective. Hierarchy of control 1. Eliminate the hazard from the workplace entirely. For example, remove the need to decant fluids in the workplace as spills will cause a slip hazard. 2. Substitute or modify the hazards by replacing it with something less dangerous. For example, substitute a type of floor surface, or modify an existing surface to reduce the risk of slipping. 3. Isolate the hazard by removing staff access to it. For example, cordon off areas while cleaning is in progress and surfaces are slippery. 4. Use engineering methods to control hazards at the source. For example, install channels in the floor and cover them with grates to allow easy drainage. 5. Introduce administrative controls to raise awareness in the workplace. Introduce adequate signs to highlight problems, provide training, and ensure tender specifications for new plant, equipment and services include OHS compliance. 6. Use personal protective equipment (PPE) such as slipresistant footwear. Case study 2 Single control strategies are not always effective and more than one control strategy may be needed to achieve the best protection. In case study one, personal protective equipment (slipresistant footwear) was used as only one component of an overall strategy to minimise risk. This is not necessarily a solution in itself. However, when coupled with administrative and modifying controls such as blocking access to the area, providing alternate access and egress during wet periods, and raising awareness of the hazard reduces the likelihood of an occurrence. Long-term controls may include modification and/or engineering controls such as applying a non-slip coating to a slippery floor. An administrative measure, such as a maintenance policy or training strategy, may also be a viable option. Further information regarding the hierarchy of control is detailed in part one of the Occupational Health and Safety Code of Practice 2008.

10 10 Once a risk assessment is completed, there are a number of ways to control the hazard. Table 2 identifies six common hazards associated with slips, trips and falls. The characteristics that make each hazard potentially dangerous are also identified. Table 2 Possible control strategies for common hazards associated with slips, trips and falls Common hazards Consideration of risk Possible strategies Control type Floor surfaces Type and condition Review of work practices Administrative Appropriate selection for prescribed work activity Administrative Common hazards Monitoring and maintenance protocol Redesign surface texture Administrative Engineering Weather conditions Warning signs Administrative Slip resistant footwear Spillage Maintenance protocol Administrative Exclusion zones Personal protective equipment Isolate/administrative Stairs Design/gradient Handrails/ramps Engineering Stairwell Lighting Engineering Obstacles Obstruction to common walkways Storage facilities/workplace design Modify/administrative controls Clear and clean workplace policy Systematic and regular housekeeping Administrative Administrative Uneven surfaces Change in surface texture/gradient Warning signs Administrative Outdoor paving/car parks Handrails Engineering Define walkways Allowance for weather conditions Lighting Modify/administrative controls Isolate/modify/administrative Engineering

11 11 Furniture Broken Maintenance protocol Administrative Weather conditions Inappropriate use Entrance ways, car parks, pathways Provide stable steps to retrieve items out of reach Maintenance protocol Engineering/modify Eliminate/administrative Ice, humidity, rain Warning signs Administrative Footwear Type and condition Chemical resistant, slip resistant sole a soft sole is generally more slip resistant Personal protective equipment 4. MONITOR AND REVIEW THE PROCESS A risk management process is cyclical. When workplace hazards are successfully controlled the cycle continues. There is always the potential for new hazards to be introduced into a workplace due to: > new technology, equipment or substances > new work practices or procedures > a change in work environment, such as moving to a different office or reducing staff numbers > new staff with different skill and knowledge levels and awareness of risk control measures. A systematic process to record information will help to identify hazards and monitor the outcomes of your control methods. Keep records that show: > details of workplace inspections > worksheets/checklists used to identify hazards > reviews of systems of work, and health and safety audits > completed risk assessments > any action that has been taken to rectify particular hazards > instruction or training carried out to ensure staff competency > health surveillance of staff > maintenance of plant and equipment. Premium paying agencies can access useful data through Comcare s Customer Information System (CIS). CIS is an online performance reporting system accessed via a secure internet link. It allows agencies to examine their historical workers compensation data including costs, incidence and injury types.

12 12 SLIPS While most hazards can be seen, slips often occur because people are not aware of a potential hazard. People may be distracted, have their vision obscured by objects they are carrying, or be relying on a single control measure, such as protective footwear. If a hazard cannot be completely eliminated, it can be appropriate to apply a number of control measures to reduce the risk level. Employers also need to consider the environment outside the workplace. This includes areas such as car parks, paths and walkways that can be greatly affected by weather or hazardous at night. COMMON HAZARDS Common slip hazards include: > a slippery floor surface > fluid on a floor, such as rain tracked inside a foyer, or on tiling around the exterior of a building > spills and contaminants > sudden changes in floor surfaces, such as a change from carpet to polished timber > a downward slope in the floor, such as a ramp > fine growth, such as moss on an exterior pavement > inappropriate footwear.

13 13 TRIPS A trip usually involves: > a low obstacle in the pedestrian s path > the person s inability to see or notice an obstacle. Material left in walkways or corridors is one of the most common causes of trips in the workplace. Systematic and regular housekeeping is an important way of making sure that obstacles do not cause trips. It is good practice to have a clear and clean walkways policy and specifically define passageways. It may be necessary, in an industrial situation or outside, to mark all walkways with painted lines. Proper planning and design can eliminate and reduce risks by providing: > storage facilities for equipment and personal items > adequate and well directed lighting > floor or ceiling conduit for electrical cords, computer leads and telephone lines. Externally, uneven or loose paving, or poorly maintained access routes, often cause trips. Footpaths, garden edging and car parks need to be assessed for potential hazards.

14 14 COMMON HAZARDS Common tripping hazards include: > loads that obstruct vision > broken tiles, worn floor coverings > turned up mat edges > uneven floor surfaces > obstacles in traffic areas > electrical cords or cables across work or traffic areas > personal items, such as bags left on the floor > uneven paving and poorly maintained access routes. STAIRS The Building Code of Australia and Australian Standard AS 1657:1992 Fixed platforms, walkways, stairways and ladders gives detailed information on the design and construction requirements for stairs and stairwells. The main points to consider are the condition of the stairs, the lighting, and whether the edge of the step is visible.

15 15 FALLS Falls can occur either on the same level or from a height. Falls on the same level are more common and are primarily caused by slips and trips. A fall from a height is likely to be more dangerous because it can cause serious injury or fatality. Falls can occur from: > ladders > roofs > vehicles and equipment > towers, masts or observation posts > steps and stairways > a sharp drop, such as a cargo delivery ramp. COMMON HAZARDS Common hazards occur from: > losing the grip on a ladder or hand-rail > overbalancing > not being aware of sharp drops or uneven ground, such as a cargo loading dock > obstructed vision so that hazards are not immediately obvious > misjudging a distance, such as to the edge of a step > leaning or sitting on an object that is not designed to take weight > stepping or jumping to a lower level > faulty or broken chairs or using them as step-stools > faulty or broken plant and equipment > inappropriate footwear.

16 16 RESOURCES You can refer to the specific guidelines below for further information relating to managing slips, trips and falls > The Building Code of Australia identifies proportion, uniformity, visual cues and lighting requirements of stairs and stairwells > Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 4663:2004 Slip resistance measurement of existing pedestrian surfaces > Australia/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 4586:2004 Slip resistance classification of new pedestrian surface materials > Australian Standard AS 1657:1992 Fixed platforms, walkways, stairways and ladders Design, construction and installation > Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 4804:1997 Occupational health and safety management systems > Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 4360:1999 Risk management Additional resources and assistance are available through the Comcare website (www.comcare.gov.au) or by contacting Comcare on

17 17 ATTACHMENTS The following attachments offer employers some specific technical detail and advice for implementing practical solutions in the workplace. ATTACHMENT A FLOORING CHARACTERISTICS AND TYPICAL APPLICATIONS Floor type Characteristics Typical application for use Carpet Fibreglass grating Cork Timber Steel plate Rubber Plastic matting Carpet has a shorter life than a hard floor surface but can be a cost effective solution in many cases. Installation should be wall to wall to avoid the hazard of tripping on edges. When used in small local areas, such as entrances, it should be installed in a recess in the floor. This product can have grit particles moulded into the upper surface to provide very good slip resistance. Fluids are very quickly drained away. Must be sealed to prevent absorption of oil and water but likely to be slippery when wet. Needs to be sealed to prevent absorption of oil and water. Can be slippery when wet if highly glossed or polished. Tends to be slippery when wet or oily, particularly when worn. Less effective in wet conditions. Must be fixed down well at the edges and joins to avoid tripping hazard. Interlocking PVC extrusions give good drainage and slip resistance. May be hosed down or steam cleaned. Corridors, offices and areas where quietness is a high priority and spills unlikely. However, carpets of synthetic materials may be used in entrance areas (to absorb water and dirt), exterior areas and bathrooms. Factory areas where fluids are unavoidable. Use on overhead platforms and walkways is also appropriate. Light industry, small kitchens, lecture rooms, standing mats. Softer than vinyl. Meeting halls, gymnasiums, older factories and offices. Factory areas with very heavy traffic, or to span openings in floors. Usually with a raised pattern (for example chequer plate) which provides some slip resistance. Ramps and areas requiring extra slip resistance, stair treads. Usually with round stud pattern. Bathrooms, standing mats.

18 18 Concrete Terrazzo Quarry tiles and ceramic tiles Glazed ceramic tiles Vinyl tiles and sheet Rounded aggregate can be slippery when concrete wears. Interior surface is often sealed to prevent dusting and absorption of liquids but this can increase slipperiness. Gives good appearance and wears well, but can be slippery when wet, when excess polish is used or when dusty. Low water absorption and good resistance to chemicals. Slippery in wet conditions if smooth but can be moulded with aggregate or profiles to improve slip resistance. Special cleaning equipment like a high-pressure water spray may be needed as a build up of grease or dirt can make these tiles slippery. Slippery when wet, particularly with soapy water. Some slip resistance treatments available but it is preferable not to install these products on floors. Easy to clean. Use in sheet form where washing is required to avoid water getting under tiles. Slippery when wet, particularly if polished. Slip resistant vinyl with aggregates moulded in is available. Thicker, softer vinyl is more slip resistant than hard vinyl. External pathways, factory and warehouse floors. Slip resistance depends on finish and wear. Use angular aggregate for pathways. Office building foyers and pedestrian areas in shopping centres. Lay in panels separated by metal strips. Suitable for kitchens where hot spills might occur. Also appropriate for shower rooms and toilet. Needs frequent cleaning. Bathrooms and toilets. Light industrial environment, corridors and hospital wards. Not suitable where hot spills are likely to occur.

19 19 ATTACHMENT B FLOOR TREATMENTS To increase slip resistance, floors need to have greater friction or adhesion. Slip resistant footwear and treating the floor are two potential strategies. If an existing floor is a problem and it is too expensive to install new flooring, it is possible to apply a floor treatment. The cost of treatment varies considerably and it is a good idea to do a cost analysis, particularly if the treatment does not significantly improve the quality of the floor. Successful treatments are those that substantially increase the surface roughness of the flooring, though the surface may not look as attractive and cleaning methods may need to be changed. For wet areas such as kitchens the flooring material or treatment should be continued up the walls to at least 75mm. The continuation between the floor and the wall should be rounded to prevent fluids getting under the edges. This will reduce cleaning and drying time. Sheet flooring such as vinyl should be welded to prevent water seeping through and to allow more thorough cleaning. Treatment type Mild etch Strong acid etches Adhesive Sand blasting Grinding Grooving with diamond saw Coatings Typical application for use Applicable to ceramic tiles, granite, terrazzo, clay pavers and vinyl. They may increase slip resistance but the tile may still be too slippery, particularly for soapy water. Applicable to concrete. Should make it suitable for slip resistance with water but not with oil. Applicable to all flooring types. Mineral-coated adhesive strips are useful for localised slip hazards such as stair treads and ramps. However, they wear quickly and should be considered as a temporary solution or receive regular replacement. Applicable to concrete, ceramic tiles, granite, marble, terrazzo, clay pavers and steel plate. Oil can still make the surface slippery. Applicable to concrete, ceramic tiles, granite, marble, terrazzo and clay pavers. This treatment can give a rougher surface, so it can be used to give slip resistance under oily conditions. Applicable to concrete, ceramic tiles, granite, marble, terrazzo and clay pavers. For example, grooves 2 3 mm deep, spaces at 7 10 mm would give slip resistance under oily conditions. Loss of the sealed surface could lead to staining. Applicable to concrete, clay pavers, steel plate and timber. A range of base materials is used including acrylics, flexible polymers, polyester resin, vinylester resin and epoxy resin. For the best slip resistance the coatings include some aggregate such as rubber particles, silica sands and silicon carbide granules. These treatments can be tailored to the application depending on the level of chemical, traffic or slip resistance needed. With the right aggregate, slip resistance under oily conditions is quite feasible.

20 20 CHECKLIST 1 WORKPLACE INSPECTION TO PREVENT SLIPS, TRIPS AND FALLS A yes response may require corrective action. Indoor Entrance Can water be tracked onto smooth floors (for example, foyers) on rainy days? Stairs Is lighting too low in passages, ramps or steps? Does lighting cause distracting shadows or glare? Do steps and handrails comply with AS 1657:1992? Is the edge slip resistant or poorly defined? Ramps Are the ramps steep or slippery? Rooms and corridors Are there hard, smooth floors in wet or oily areas? Do fluids leak onto the floor from work processes or machines? Is poor drainage causing pooling of fluids? Does ice collect on cold room floors? Is the floor slippery when wet? Is there anti-slip paint, coating profile or tape that is worn, smooth or damaged? Do aisles require marking and signage to be kept clear? Are sudden floor surface changes not easily visible (any ridge that is as high as the shoe sole or higher)? Are there trip hazards due to equipment and other moveable objects left lying on the floor? Are there raised carpet edges or holes worn in the carpet? NO YES

21 21 Are vinyl tiles loosening and curling at the edges? Is there build-up of polish on floors? Is there excessive detergent residue? Do employees have to walk on wet floors? Does your workplace require wet floor signage and/or instructions for proper use of signage? Outdoor Stairs Is lighting too low for clear visibility of ramps or steps? Do steps and handrails comply with AS 1657:1992? Is the edge slip resistant or poorly defined visually? Ramps Are ramps too steep or slippery? Does poor drainage cause pooling of fluids? Is there moss or other growth on pathways? Is the paving uneven, or are there potholes in the car park that are poorly defined visually? Is there anti-slip paint, coating profile or tape that is worn, smooth or damaged? Are there moveable objects left lying on the ground?

22 22 CHECKLIST 2 REVIEW OF SAFETY MANAGEMENT TO PREVENT SLIPS, TRIPS AND FALLS A yes response may require corrective action. Management system Does the slip-resistance of floors require testing as per AS/NZS 366.1:1993 Slip resistance of pedestrian surfaces, Part 1 requirements? Do cleaning methods for all floors and paths need to be specified and recorded? Do cleaning contractors need to be instructed on required methods and standards? Do staff require training in the procedures for dealing with slip, trip and fall hazards? Is accountability for floor quality and housekeeping clearly specified and accessible to all staff? Do employees need to be advised and encouraged to wear appropriate footwear? Cleaning methods Is the cleaning method appropriate for the floor surface? Is there any build-up of polish on floors? Is there excessive residue or detergent? Do employees have to walk on wet floors after the floors have been washed? Does your workplace require wet floor signage and/or instructions for proper use? Do employees have to walk on greasy, oily or wet floors? Do loads carried or pushed interfere with forward vision? Are tread patterns on shoes worn or clogged with dirt? Are loads being carried excessive, upsetting balances? Are heavy trolleys being pushed or pulled up ramps? Are employees hurried due to time constraints? Shoes Do employees require slip-resistant footwear? Does the footwear used by employees have smooth soles or soles made of leather, PVC or crepe? NO YES

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