In most people’s eyes, slip and trip accidents at work probably wouldn’t obviously rank amongst the most serious types of accident claims that a personal injury solicitor would have to deal with on a day to day basis.
Whilst that might be true in some instances, it would be wrong to dismiss slip, trip and fall accidents as inherently trivial matters.
Lies, damn lies and statistics
The annual Health and Safety Executive statistics on non-fatal injuries at work in Great Britain, certainly don’t give the impression that injuries resulting from slip, trip and fall accidents are matters to pay scant regard to.
693,000 workers suffered a non-fatal injury in accidents at work (self-reported by workers)
Injuries causing over 7 days absence from work – 168,000
Injuries causing less than 7 days absence – 525,000
65,247 non-fatal employee injuries reported by employers (RIDDOR)
29% of all non-fatal injuries reported to RIDDOR by employers were as a result of slips, trips or falls (on the same level)
111 workers were killed at work in all accidents at work
2% of fatal accidents at work were caused by slips, trips and falls at work (on the same level).
The cost to UK employers as a result of slip and trip accidents in the workplace, is £512 million per year.
What are the major hazards that cause slips and trips at work?
A slip hazard at work is where a surface that is walked on becomes wet, greasy, oily or icy.
Examples of slip hazards are:
- Icy goods yard in the winter that has not been treated.
- Rugs, mats, carpet not fixed to the floor and slipping when walked on.
- Spilt oil or other greasy substance leaking on to hard floor surfaces.
- Water that has dripped from a leaky roof
- Coffee or tea spills
Examples of trip hazards include:
- Uneven, damaged or broken floors or flooring
- Cables trailing across a walkway
- Poor housekeeping – items left out in dangerous places; tools that have been left scattered on the floor; bottom drawers of workstations left open.
- Fixed hazards, such as a low wall or kerb that you just don’t see.
Hazards that cover both slips and trips
- Poor lighting: if the lighting on walkways, stairs, at entrances or throughout a room is poor (or non-existent) it can act as a contributory factor to causing a slip or trip e.g., you don’t see a spill on the floor, you miss your footing on a worn step on the stairs or you trip over a low wall or kerb that you fail to spot.
- Unsuitable footwear: on a highly polished or alternatively very uneven surface, the wrong type of footwear can, if not cause the slip or trip entirely, certainly heavily contribute to it.
Can I claim for personal injury caused by a slip or trip accident at work?
There is no automatic right to claim personal injury compensation following a trip or slip accident at work.
There has to be fault on the art of the employer for a slip and trip personal injury accident claim to have any chance of success.
Employers owe their employees a common law duty of care and must exercise reasonable skill and care in carrying out this duty. The key word is ‘reasonable’. The risk that they must protect their employees from, is one that could be reasonably expected of them in the particular circumstances.
By virtue of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HASAW), employers also owe a statutory duty of care to their employees (and to visitors to their workplace).
In essence employers must take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure the safety of employees.
What might this duty to take all ‘reasonably practicable’ steps consist of in terms of preventing slip and trip accidents at work?
The first thing employers should do, is carry out a risk assessment. This will be done with the aim of identifying every reasonably foreseeable slip, trip and fall risk hazards at the work premises. Certain workplaces will carry a greater risk of slip and trip accidents .
For instance, professional kitchens carry a huge risk of slip and trip accidents happening. The prospects of serious accidents from slipping on wet or greasy floors, with the hot plates, ovens and deep fat fryers in the vicinity, is obvious.
Summary of what the employers risk assessment should consist of:
- Look at what the possible hazards are
- Who could be at risk of injury from those risks?
- See whether the existing risk management procedures are sufficient or whether there is a need to take further action.
The action that the employer takes to deal with those risks is the crucial part of ensuring that they are taking all reasonable precautions to prevent employees from getting injured in slip and trip accidents.
So, after a risk of ‘spills’ is identified:-
- put in place a rigorous system of regular inspections of particularly hazardous areas
- adopt a quick response method of mopping up spills
- use effective materials to ensure that the spill is safely cleared
What happens if the employer fails in their duty of care?
If the employer fails to do everything they could have, to prevent a slip and trip accident happening and an employee is injured as a result, then it’s likely that the employee may consider making a slip and trip, accident at work claim.
The success of the personal injury claim may rest upon a variety of factors, such as:-
- Did the employer carry out a risk assessment?
- If so, did they identify the risk?
- Did they take reasonable precautions to control the risk?
- Did they identify the risk but fail to take any meaningful action to guard against it?
- Was the accident caused by the act or omission of an employee’s colleague? i.e., did an employee fail to carry out their duties e.g., to mop up a spill, or move items that had been left in a dangerous position, thus constituting a tripping risk.
In most cases, the employer will not be able to escape liability for an accident caused by the negligence of another employee. The employer would be said to be ‘vicariously liable’ for the negligent actions of an employee whose negligence (carelessness) led to another employee getting injured.
What types of injury commonly occur as a result of trip, slip and fall accidents?
Slip and trip accidents might conjure up images of bumps, bruises and grazed legs. It would be a lucky employee who only sustained such minor injuries.
Here are some of the types of injury that are caused by slip and trip accidents at work:
- fractures to arms and wrists
- ligament damage
- back injury
- spinal injury
- brain injury
Claiming slip and trip accident at work compensation
If you suffer an accident at work injury caused by a slip, trip or fall, your first step when considering making a claim for compensation is to seek out the services of an experienced workplace injury solicitor.
Our accident at work claims team at Mooneerams Solicitors are highly experienced lawyers who have had many years’ experience of helping hundreds of clients to make successful slip, trip and fall injury claims. Contact Mooneerams today to see how we can help you to make a successful No Win, No Fee accident at work claim. Call us on 029 2048 3615 or send your details to us using the form on this page and we’ll call you back.