A smooth floor, freshly drenched in a combination of oils and water, casual footwear, a fallen sign, and a hasty employee, a recipe for disaster. And that’s just one scenario that could cause an expensive slip, trip or fall.
The food manufacturing industry of Australia presents a face-paced, standards-conscience industry, fraught with risks and challenges like no other. Time doesn’t allow for a nasty slip, trip or fall, particularly not one that sends an employee home with life-long injuries, and the company into a whirlwind of fines, court cases and a ruined reputation.
There are endless possible causes to slips, trips and falls in the workplace, however all of these come under one of three main factors; the environment, the organisation and the individual.
The biggest contributing factor to slips, trips and falls is the environment. There are many elements within the environment that can increase this risk.
- Contamination of the floor: Spillages, debris, and wet cleaning.
- Slip resistance of the floor not properly maintained: Incorrect or inadequate cleaning
- Slip resistance of the floor is too low: incorrect finish installed, not rough enough
- Steps and slopes: steps are too sudden and not well marked, slopes are steeper than the recommendation
A lot of these can be reduced by eliminating contaminates, ensuring proper cleaning is carried out, and making sure the right flooring solution is installed from the get-go.
The second largest contributing factor to slips, trips and falls is the organization. Within the organization, there are three main aspects that increase this risk.
- Layout of work premises and general traffic flow, not allowing for slip potential areas, or marking particularly hazardous areas
- Not having a safety culture, safety not meaning enough in the organization
- Inadequate supervision, risks and behavior aren’t monitored correctly
The layout of the workplace is critical for ensuring safety. Traffic management plans need to be implemented to ensure that everyone understands where they can and can’t go. It is important that safety plays a big role in the culture of the organization, with risks and behaviour properly monitored.
It is critical that shoes and slip resistance are matched. The right kind of sole material must be sourced, and the correct texture for the floor surface. In areas where the floor is oily or slippery due to washdown or production liquids, it is particularly important that the correct shoes are worn.
Another important factor to recognize is that safety on the floor is everyone’s responsibility. Adequate training needs to be provided, to ensure that employees understand their role in keeping the workplace safe. Individuals who can introduce simple, better ways that increase safety in the workplace need to be rewarded.