One of the key risks for business owners is that employees or customers could be injured as a result of a ‘slip and trip’ incident. Apart from the reputational damage which can be caused by such an event, from a financial perspective, insurance premiums are likely to increase. There is also a risk that you will be underinsured or excluded from cover for some reason – meaning that there may be a significant financial burden arising from any such accident.
But in circumstances where you cannot control whether people attend your premises or not, what are the key steps to help you manage the risk of potential slips, trips and falls in your business?
Identify whether your premises is exposed to a greater than usual risk of slips, or whether a certain type of slip is more likely than another (for example, whether there is a higher risk of spillage or perhaps puddles of water caused by rainfall). The identification process can involve the assessment of several factors, including the material and construction of your floor, its age and condition, its adherence to the Australian Standards, and even the climate conditions (for example, whether your premises are exposed to frequent rain or wind). The nature of your business is also a relevant consideration, depending on the type of products you may have in stock, the demographic of your customers and whether there is a prevalence of liquids or other slippery materials in your business.
The best way to identify whether you are at risk is to arrange for slip assessment services to be conducted on your premises by an accredited slip resistance testing organisation.
Once you have identified that your business may be at risk of slip and trip type incidents, it is important to assess the level of risk you face. There are a number of slip testing methods, including the wet pendulum test and the dry floor friction test. Once slip testing has been conducted, you may be given a rating on the suitability of your existing floors, as well as recommendations for improvement and risk avoidance, such as cleaning techniques and appropriate anti-slip repairs.
It is no good to have an assessment of the risks to which you are potentially exposing yourself and your customers without taking steps to avoid them. At this point, the recommendations provided by your slip assessment services consultant should be implemented.
4. Monitor the Risk
The susceptibility of your premises to slip and trip accidents should be regularly reviewed and monitored, in particular if there have been any relevant changes in your business such as a differing client base, renovations, or physical changes to the business premises.
The consequences of a slip and trip accident, whether involving a client or an employee, could be dire for your business. Ensure that you are proactive and protected from the risks by following these four steps, and ensuring that you are operating in the safest environment possible.
Author: Carl Strautins
As a principle at Safe Environments, Carl Strautins first started his career at CSIRO conducting research in slip resistance and developed the accelerated wear slip resistance test. He holds a degree in materials science, masters in occupational health and safety and a masters in science in occupational hygiene, Carl provides guidance to industry to minimise the risk of slip and fall incidents. He is engaged on a regular basis to provide expert opinion for disputes and legal proceedings.