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Your guide to slips, trips and falls

Construction worker using equipment on a rooftop - slips, trips and falls

Tripping on a wet or freshly polished floor at work can happen the moment you walk into work in the morning. An accident can take place, for example, when there is no warning sign to draw your attention to avoid a spillage or leak on the floor or stairs.

Sometimes there is a longer term safety issue which continues to be neglected, such as:

  • Chipped, cracked and uneven paved or concrete floors
  • A metal walkway is worn smooth
  • Carpet tiles are loose and corners are curling up
  • Inadequate lighting in stairwells, stockrooms or warehouse areas
  • Inadequate or no handrails

Slips, trips and falls continue to be the most common cause of major injuries to employees in the workplace. You may be employed in an industry with a known high rate of slips and trips and falls, including:

  • Construction
  • Transport and storage
  • Manufacturing
  • Health and social care

Your fall may have caused a minor cut or bruise but it could be more serious. If you sprained your ankle or fractured a rib you may be off work for a few weeks, but if you injured your head or damaged your back, it’s very likely that you may not be able to return to work for many months. In some cases, an injury may cause a life-changing disability requiring surgery, long-term care, support and ongoing treatment.

Your employer has a legal responsibility to ensure the workplace meets health and safety regulations and to prevent the risk of an accident. This includes keeping floors and passageways free from obstructions or substances which may cause you to trip or slip. Where this is not possible, your employer has a duty of care to warn you of the hazard.

Where it can be proved that an employer’s negligence of health and safety procedures has caused you to lose your footing and fall over, which resulted in an avoidable injury, you may decide to pursue a claim.

Your Legal Friend has 30 years of experience and an in-depth knowledge of workplace law and injury compensation. If you have suffered an injury caused by a failure to prevent the risk of a slip, trip or fall, our dedicated team of specialist solicitors will provide you with all the expert guidance you need to help you succeed in making your claim and securing the best possible settlement.

Slips, Trips and Falls, 2013/14

Of the 77,593 non-fatal injuries reported to employers:

  • 28% were for slips, trips and falls - the most common type of workplace accident.
  • 29% were for injuries lasting over seven days.          (RIDDOR - Health and Safety Statistics Annual Report, 2013/14)

The difference between a slip, a trip and a fall at work

Slips, trips and falls are each defined by the different way they cause an injury:

Slips - occur when there is insufficient contact friction. This means there is a lack of grip between the underside of the footwear and the walking surface, most often caused by water, oil, other types of liquids, or sometimes by inappropriate footwear.

Trips – are caused when the foot suddenly hits an object in its path and is prevented from moving forward. A stumble or fall results from tripping over an obstruction, such as:

  • A protruding single box, pallet, or stack
  • Fire-extinguisher, pot plant, waste-paper bin
  • Snagged carpeting or loose stair nosing
  • Unsecured trailing cable(s)

Falls – can result from a slip or trip but can be caused separately. There are two basic types of falls:

  • Same level falls which can be due to cracked, uneven walking surfaces.
  • Falls from heights involving roofs, ladders, scaffolding, towers, moving platforms and safety harnesses.

Preventing slips, trips and falls – what your employer should be doing

Often the reason why a slip, trip or fall occurs is because of a lack of regular and specific task-related risk assessments. Few workplaces stay the same and safety requirements will need to be updated to reflect changing conditions.

An employer is required by law to manage health and safety in the workplace to minimise the risk of an accident causing an injury to all staff, contractors and visitors while on the premises.

Risk assessments

A risk assessment should focus on “real risks” – those that may lead to slip or trip injuries and are most likely to cause harm. Employees should also be asked what they think the hazards are, as they are more likely to notice new, recent or long-standing issues that need to be addressed, such as:

  • Contaminated floors
  • Incorrect floor cleaning methods
  • Daily use of worn floor areas, passage ways, stairs, warehouse, loading ramps, delivery bays
  • The need for correct footwear for specific work areas.

Sufficient lighting

Under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, employers have a duty to ensure that there is sufficient lighting which is safe and does not pose a health risk to employees and others who may use their premises.

All areas of a workplace should be well-lit to avoid the risk of trips and slips, not only where employees are working but also those they use as access between different areas, such as stairwells, overhead walkways, rear entrances, and delivery bays.  The lighting should be suitably positioned so that it may be properly maintained and lamps replaced.

What does the law say about slips, trips and falls?

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSW Act) requires employers to ensure the health and safety of all employees and anyone who may be affected by their work, so far as is reasonably practicable. This includes taking steps to control the risk of slips and trips.

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 require floors to be suitable, in good condition and free from obstructions. People should be able to move around safely.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 specifically refers to slip, trip and fall accidents, requiring employers to assess risks (including slip and trip risks) and, where necessary, take
action to address them.

If employer negligence can be proven and you have suffered injuries as a result of this, you may be eligible to make a  claim for compensation.

How Your Legal Friend can help you

As experienced workplace injury compensation specialists, we know you want to see your employers held to account for failing to properly protect you from the risk of a slip, trip or fall.

We ensure that your case is properly investigated, both expertly and sensitively, and help you build the best possible case for appropriate compensation to support you now and in the future.

Talk to us today

For an informal, confidential chat with one of our specialist personal injury solicitors, call us now on 0808 163 5645 (calls free from landlines and mobiles). Or just complete the 'Start a new claim’ option on the right and we'll call you straight back.