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Aviva: Don't underestimate risk of slips, trips in manufacturing

20 April 2011

With more than a fifth of all injuries in the manufacturing sector last year the result of a slip or trip, Aviva is urging businesses to ensure proper health and safety procedures are in place to ensure employees work carefully and safely.

The advice, as part of Aviva’s Simply Safety campaign, follows the latest statistics which show that in 2009/10, 2.4 million working days were lost in the manufacturing industry due to workplace injury and work-related ill health.

Phil Grace, liability risk manager at Aviva, said: “Last year, 25 workers were killed and more than 4,000 seriously injured in the manufacturing sector in the UK, with a slip or trip the cause of 21% of these incidents.

“A slip or trip may seem like a minor incident, but there is the potential for serious injury. Aviva’s own claims data for 2010 shows that, across all industries, slips and trips accounted for one in eight of all large loss claims (those in excess of £125,000), with the most significant and costly injuries to the back, head and wrists. The most serious cases resulted in an inability to return to work.

“The cost of slip and trip accidents can be significant. The Health and Safety Executive reports of a safety manager at an East Anglian food processing and packing plant who estimated that one incident where an employee sustained a broken elbow had cost the business £2,000 in lost time.

“The particular difficulty with slips and trips is that it is impossible to predict the results of the accident, which could range from a small bruise to a serious head trauma, or whether the effects of injuries will last for a few days or many years.”

Slips and trips accidents commonly occur in manufacturing production areas and are often caused by housekeeping issues such as badly placed pallets, uneven ground or strapping trailing from packages. Accidents can also be caused by slips on water, oil and ice, as machinery leaks or substances used in manufacturing are spilt.

Grace continued: “With the manufacturing sector now growing at a fast pace, it is more important than ever that health and safety is front of mind to prevent accidents and injuries in the workplace.

“Employees should be trained to look out for potential problems such as exposed cables across walkways, and managers should foster a culture in which spillages, leaks and incidents are recorded.

“Business owners should also conduct thorough risk assessments to identify slip and trip hazards, considering if there are suitable controls in place, such as a proper systems for cleaning floors and, if necessary, laying more slip resistant floors with higher surface roughness.

“In particular, employees should be encouraged to swiftly report concerns to managers as fast action can reduce the risk of an incident. An investigation by the HSE found that furniture wax falling onto the floor as products were transferred around a pine factory was behind an accident where an employee slipped and cut himself on a machine that was not properly guarded. This injury could have been prevented by mopping up the spills quickly and also ensuring that machinery was properly maintained8.

“The safety of employees should be of paramount importance to all businesses, but it is also worth remembering that accidents cost money and result in reputational damage – both of which could impact adversely on a firm’s performance. The controls needed to reduce the risk of slips and trips are not necessarily complex or expensive to implement. Businesses must not underestimate the importance of proper housekeeping.”

To download the Simply Safety factsheet visit: https://help.aviva.co.uk/risksolutions/tools-templates/simply-safety/apr-2011


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