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Slips, trips and falls can be prevented in workplaces. Awareness of the common risk factors for slips, trips and falls coupled with a strong management commitment, can result in reduction and prevention of slips, trips and falls incidents.
Like any other hazard in the workplace, prevention begins with a risk management approach such as spot the hazard, assess the risk and make the changes. This should be done in full consultation with your staff at each stage. Please refer to the Slips, trips and falls risk management worksheet here for further assistance with the risk assessment process.
Hazards can be identified by reviewing hazard reports and incident reports, talking with your staff and completing walk-throughs or workplace inspections to identify potential hazards.
Assessing the risk involves identifying all of the risk factors that are present that may contribute to the risk of a slip or trip, and determining the potential likelihood and consequences of a slip or trip occurring.
Risk factors that contribute to slips and trips injuries will vary according to the type of workplace and work tasks being completed. It is not uncommon for several risk factors to exist at any onetime.
Common risk factor categories include:
Finally, making changes is about implementing controls that eliminate or reduce the identified risk factors. Do not forget that all-important step of reviewing the solutions after they have been put in place to make sure that they are effective, and have not introduced any new hazards to the workplace.
There are many controls that employers can use to prevent slips and trips in the workplace. Firstly though, it is important to complete hazard identification and a risk assessment in consultation with your staff. This will ensure that the right control is chosen for the hazards that are relevant in your workplace, and prevents costly changes down the track if the wrong control is implemented. Quite often, a range of controls is needed to effectively control the risk.
Common controls used in workplaces can be categorised according to the hierarchy of controls:
Everyone involved in organising and implementing processes that may introduce or control slips, trips and falls hazards should be trained in risk management for slips, trips and falls.
The level, length and type of training provided should be tailored and comparable to the risk involved and the role of the participants involved in the risk management process. Any training should focus on the specific problems identified in the assessment process and take on a participatory approach. Depending on the degree of risk, participants should have an understanding of some or all of: