Responding to slips, trips and falls

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Responding to slips, trips and falls


Following the report of a slips, trips and falls injury, it is important that an investigation (a systematic examination of the risk factors and possible cause) be conducted and the risk factors that may cause or aggravate the condition be controlled to stop the injury from becoming worst or recurring in the same or other workers exposed to the same conditions.   

Take the time to choose the right people to conduct the investigation. When conducting a slip, trip or fall injury investigation, the following people should be considered for to be part of the investigation:

  • safety representatives where they exist;
  • line manager/supervisor;
  • a safety person from the worksite; and
  • people with the relevant knowledge of slip, trip or fall risk factors, how to assess them, sources of risks and controls to implement and review (eg ergonomists, OSH specialists).

It is important that the injured worker be consulted so that there is a clear understanding of the mechanism of injury. The injured worker’s perspective of what may have lead to the problem usually provides vital clues as to what went wrong and why. They often also have appropriate ideas about what controls may be put in place to reduce the risk of re-injury.

During the investigation it is important that the investigators look for causes, not blame. Systems fail for many reasons and the people involved are often not the cause of the incident.

Investigations should:

  • Aim to prevent recurrence.
  • Aim to establish what should have taken place compared to what actually happened.
  • Be a team approach (safety rep, line manager/supervisor, safety personnel, person/s with relevant knowledge).
  • Be selected (different types) depending on seriousness or complexity of incident.
  • Follow a systematic and methodical procedure (e.g., as soon as able, disturbance of physical evidence).
  • Look for causes, not blame.
  • Prompt the investigator to look for several elements (eg. events prior to incident, events during incident, direct and indirect risk factors that were present, sources of risks and whether current controls are effective).
  • Questions may be in the form of WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHY, WHERE, HOW.
  • Determine summary of incident (conclusion) and recommendations for improvement (controls). 

Sample - Slips, trips and falls investigation report (word)

Injury management

Treating a slip, trip or fall injury early and early return to work to an appropriate role are important aspects of reducing the severity of the condition and length of recovery. 
Specific information about injury management or work rehabilitation may be obtained from WorkCover WA.

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