How to avoid slips and trips in the construction industry

What’s up doc?

The Bugs Bunny cartoon episode entitled “No Parking Hare” provides a great example of the use of incorrect signage in the workplace, and is just one of the unsafe features in this classic scene. As Bugs attempts to outwit the construction worker, lack of proper planning, inadequate tools and inappropriate clothing highlight how badly managed this construction site is. And as we see from this cartoon, slips and trips lead to bigger problems. Bugs won’t be the only one saying, “what’s up doc?” after those injuries!

Joking aside, slips and trips in the construction industry account for around 1,000 injuries each year. From fractured bones to dislocated joints, employees can face numerous problems. And it’s down to two simple causes – dangerous site conditions and poor site management.

Remember: It’s the law!

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007, also known as CDM Regulations or CDM 2007, is a set of legal duties for the safe operation of UK construction sites. The regulations apply to clients, designers and contractors, and help them plan how to manage a safe and healthy working environment.

There’s no quick fix

So, what can be done to prevent slips and trips in the construction industry? There is no fast and easy solution. But a good place to start is by looking at guidelines that already exist on site. This is so people can learn exactly what’s needed to work in a safe environment. The main point to get across is that a clean and orderly site must be maintained in order to reduce the chance of people being injured – and needing to make a personal injury claim. It’s essential that proper thought and consistent measures be put in place.

Here are four of the key health and safety risks in the construction industry:

  1. Uneven surfaces
  2. Obstacles
  3. Trailing cables
  4. Wet or slippery surfaces
  1. Uneven surfaces
    Many slips and trips occur because of uneven surfaces. Reduce the risk by:

    • Having designated walkways
    • Providing good walking conditions
    • Providing adequate lighting
    • Clearly displaying signs
    • Providing mechanical aids
    • Providing suitable footwear
  2. Obstacles
    Many slips and trips occur because of something being left in someone’s way. Reduce the risk by:

    • Having good housekeeping rules
    • Planning deliveries in advance
    • Having designated walkways
  3. Trailing cables
    Many slips and trips occur because of cables being carelessly left around. Reduce the risk by:

    • Using cordless tools where possible
    • Making sure cables are not left lying about
  4. Wet or slippery surfaces
    Many slips and trips occur due to wet or slippery surfaces. Reduce the risk by:

    • Treating floors with stone or grit
    • Provide temporary covering
  5. It’s not all about employers
    So, what can employees do to help? Here are two simple ways employees can help:

    1. Effectively manage their working areas
    2. Effectively manage access routes around their work areas

Employees can help by carrying out the above two points, but it’s also vital that everyone communicates well in order to build a safe environment.

Interaction builds a safer environment

Interaction between staff members can also improve construction sites for everyone. Why not start by implementing a workplace motto that employees are required to stick to? This will improve staff morale and encourage people to play their part in increasing safety in the workplace.

It’s everyone’s responsibility to ensure health and safety standards are met and following a motto like “See it – sort it” can help. This is self-explanatory and can bring the importance of safety home to everyone.

Using toolbox talks is another way to build morale and therefore a good work environment for people.

Or why not take a sensible approach?

You can follow these 3 easy steps to avoid personal injury claims:

  1. Plan and organise work properly
  2. Ensure employees are competent with equipment
  3. Select and use the right equipment for the right task

Gee, ain’t I a stinker?

So while Bugs may have got away with creating mayhem in this cartoon, this would definitely cause a serious injury in a construction site. Remember the motto – “See it – sort it”.