Slips and falls account for thousands of injuries in the workplace every year. Many workplaces feature environments that may be more susceptible to falls such as commercial kitchens, restaurants and manufacturing floors.
Slip resistant shoes are the best defence against the risk associated with a slippery surface at work. Although some employees may be familiar with slip resistant shoes, many people believe that trips and slips won’t happen to them, or cause any significant injury.
Whilst injury is of course a huge burden on the employee, it is the employer who can hurt too. A noted workplace injury will result in time off work, often over 3 days. This will tighten your rota's and push the rest of your staff to pick up any slack.
We value your safety at work and to give you a better understanding of the common injury risks slippery surfaces create - we have detailed the most common injuries and explain how these can be easily avoided with a little planning.
Fractures and Sprains
Sprains are stretches or tears of a ligament, usually near a joint. Sprains are characterised by stiffness and swelling pain. They can make work difficult or impossible by severely limiting mobility. Slips and falls are a major cause of sprains and can cause this painful injury in several ways. People can slip and twist an ankle or knee or they can fall and land on a wrist.
Fractures will range in severity. For example a hairline fracture can often appear quite similar to sprains, whilst more pronounced fractures can often feel closer to a complete break. A fracture is a partially broken bone. It can be caused by a fall’s impact and needs immediate medical attention. Fractures are painful, cause swelling and they limit mobility.
Although hip fractures are thought of as an injury that only happens to the elderly, it could happen to anyone during a slip or fall. It’s an extremely limiting fracture that could keep you out of work for an extended length of time.
When someone slips or falls, they often don’t have any time to reduce the impact with their knees or hands. Although doing this could mean that a sprain or fractures is less likely, doing so would increase the risk of lasting nerve damage for those parts taking the brunt of the fall, such as a shoulder or the back.
Brachial Plexus Injury
BPI is a term which covers several conditions originating from damage in the brachial plexus, a nerve cluster in the neck. When people fall on a shoulder or damage the neck, the damaged nerves can lead to a loss of feeling throughout the upper body. The injury’s severity depends on how heavy the fall is. An employees spinal cord can be injured if the neck is twisted, bones in the back break or if the cord is compressed or bent due to a particularly heavy fall. Employees are putting themselves at risk of lasting nerve damage by not wearing the appropriate protective clothing.
So now you are aware of the injuries and lasting damage caused by slips and falls in the workplace, how can you prevent them? Below are some of the best ways to prevent workplace injuries:
One of the best ways to prevent the opportunity of slips and falls is to properly plan out a work space. Avoid multi-level work spaces where people could easily trip when walking through. If this isn't possible, clearly sign and mark where the changes in height begin and end.
Anti-slip mats are a fantastic way of creating traction in a wet working environment or on a smooth surface. Having mats placed in high traffic areas will dramatically reduce the probability of a fall.
Although this may sound like an obvious point to raise - the best way of preventing accidents is to keep a clean, tidy and dry work space. Remove any debris on a regular basis and create site cleaning rota's that involve the whole team. This will promote ownership of the work space and reduce the chance of injury.
As previously mentioned, promoting employee ownership of the work space if a great technique that not only creates a safer work environment for all - but improves the look and feel of the work space and will inevitably increase efficiency.
Place signage in high risk areas and hold monthly mini-tests with your team to make sure everyone understands what they are looking at. Incorporate safety awareness into employee inductions and hold team meetings to remind everyone of it's importance.
For those times when impact is unavoidable (or even part of the job role), the correct protective clothing can make the difference between an employee being in work or at the doctors with an injury.
Work trousers with padded knees are great for those often working on hard work surfaces or floors, whilst elasticated wrist, ankle and knee supports will aid any roles involving repetitive actions such as factory work.
Of course, the correct protective footwear is paramount to protection. Having a sufficient slip-resistant sole, steel toe caps and reinforced ankle supports will not only prevent a fall, but retain comfort throughout a shift and delay long-term strain based injuries.
So now we’ve told you about all the dangers and how best to avoid them, we’d advise that you take all the safety options available to you. You can start from the feet up with our slip resistant shoes, find out which style is right for you with our FREE eBook...