Why slips, trips and falls are so common in the workplace

First aider reasoning to someone who has fallen in the workplace
Alice Squires
Publish Date:
21 Dec 2023
Reading Time:
5 Mins

Workplace safety is at the top of the priority list for many employers. After all, a secure and hazard-free work environment is essential for the wellbeing of employees.

Potential hazards in the workplace should be included in standard risk assessments for all activities undertaken in the workplace. Introducing preventive measures and stressing to your team the importance of remaining vigilant is vital.


How many people suffer from slips, trips, and falls at work?

Often, slips, trips, and falls are minor mishaps. However, historical data published by the British Safety Council revealed that an estimated 971,000 lost working days can be attributed to slips, trips, and falls between 2017 and 2020.

While the occasional accident in your workplace is inevitable, you need to do all you can to try and reduce the likelihood of such accidents from taking place.

Accidents like these can have a profound impact on employee wellbeing and business productivity and can have profound long-term repercussions.

For instance, in injuries sustained from such incidents, some of the effects can be short-lived, but some slips, trips and falls can result in long-term or chronic health issues such as back problems. This can lead to discomfort, and potentially extended periods of absence, affecting the overall well-being of your workforce.

Moreover, it’s also important to acknowledge how slips, trips, and falls can indirectly affect the productivity of your business.

Time and resources spent managing the aftermath of accidents, including potential investigations, retraining, paperwork, and the need for temporary staff replacements, can significantly disrupt your operations.

The correlation between a safe working environment and enhanced productivity is clear. It highlights the need to introduce strategies to reduce the risks associated with slips, trips, and falls.

First aid training can help if an incident does occur, even though you've done all you can to prevent it. First aid provision helps you quickly deal with minor injuries, and recognise and take appropriate steps for more serious injuries - it’s a necessity, not a luxury.


Causes of slips, trips, and falls (and how to prevent them)

As outlined by the HSE, there are multiple causes of slips, trips, and falls in the workplace and this creates potential hazards for employees.

Therefore, it’s essential to familiarise yourself with the causes of these incidents and adopt a proactive stance to address and mitigate such risks.

By understanding the causes and taking preventive measures, you and your employees can create a safer work environment.


What is a slips, trips, and falls risk assessment?

A slips, trips, and falls risk assessment systematically evaluates your workplace to identify and mitigate potential risks associated with slips, trips, and falls.

The aim is to thoroughly examine the physical environment, work practices, and other relevant factors that may contribute to the risk of you or your colleagues slipping, tripping, or falling within the premises.

Key elements of the assessment may include the condition of flooring, lighting levels, presence of obstacles, maintenance practices, and the effectiveness of warning signs.

Following guidance on signs denoting wet floors, uneven surfaces, or potential hazards, and following established safety protocols is crucial.

Walking instead of running and being cautious on stairs or uneven surfaces, especially when you're carrying things which may impact your visual field or your ability to put your hands out to break a fall, can also reduce the likelihood of accidents occurring.


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The role of employee awareness in preventing slips, trips, and falls

Both you and your employees play a crucial role in preventing slips, trips, and falls in the workplace by actively contributing to a culture of safety and following best practices.

Wearing appropriate footwear with non-slip soles, especially in areas prone to spills or wet surfaces, is essential. Keeping workspaces tidy, organised, free from clutter, and storing equipment/materials properly, can greatly improve the safety of your working environment.

Following guidance on signs denoting wet floors, uneven surfaces, or potential hazards, and following established safety protocols is crucial. Walking instead of running and being cautious on stairs or uneven surfaces, can also reduce the likelihood of accidents occurring.

Participating in safety training sessions and staying informed about workplace safety protocols is an important aspect of an employee's role.

Using proper lifting techniques to prevent strains and falls, seeking assistance for heavy or awkward loads, and communicating effectively with colleagues about potential hazards are proactive measures. When available, employees should use handrails on stairs or elevated surfaces for added stability and support.

If a spill occurs, the spillage must be cleared quickly. Alternatively, reporting it to the appropriate personnel is necessary. Using warning signs until the area is safe ensures that others are aware of potential risks. It’s also just as important to remove safety signage afterwards.

Adhering to established safety policies and procedures and encouraging colleagues to do the same is crucial for maintaining a secure working environment.

Promoting an organisation-wide culture of safety and addressing potential hazards, contribute significantly to accident prevention.

Ultimately, both you and your employees play a collective role in fostering a secure working environment and enhancing the overall well-being of the workforce.


Why providing immediate first aid for slips, trips, or falls is important

The HSE Labour Force Survey revealed that 40% of non-fatal injuries could be attributed to slips, trips and falls. Oftentimes, these accidents lead to some form of head injury.

You need to know how to provide first aid provision, especially in situations involving head injuries. First aid training courses from Red Cross Training include modules focused specifically on how to help somebody who has a head injury.

Head injuries can range from a minor bump on the head to a serious brain injury. As it can be difficult to tell how serious the damage is, first aiders need to exercise caution when a casualty has suffered a head injury, especially if they’re a young child, an older person, are on medication, or have a history of head or brain injuries.


Expert-led first aid training

The 2-day First aid at work requalification course and 3-day First aid at work course focus on the risks of head injuries, and concussion, and how to recognise the symptoms when things are amiss.

Learners are taught how to apply a bandage when a person has suffered a cut to their head, which is trickier than it sounds.

Therefore, learners are often put into groups to practise how to apply effective bandages and dressings, alternating between playing a casualty and a first aider.

Through learner-led activities, the group are encouraged to try out what they think would be right without fear of reprisals, receiving specific, personalised and targeted coaching and feedback from our expert training colleagues.


The importance of adopting a first aid culture at your company

Training sessions are invaluable in preventing complacency by reinforcing the importance of staying vigilant and equipping your team with the knowledge they need to act proactively. It empowers you and your colleagues to take an active role in taking responsibility and accountability.

A skilled workforce is vital in creating a safer workplace, fostering a positive work environment, and mitigating the severity of accidents attributed to slips, trips, and falls.

Finding a first aid course near you and booking multiple team members in first aid training paves the way for quicker, more efficient care to be provided should the need arise.

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