Since the heyday of silent movies, people have enjoyed slapstick humour. Characters get marooned in a patch of grease and can’t get to their feet, and the old banana skin gag still hangs around. Unfortunately, real life is not like the cartoons, people simply don’t just get up and walk away. A trip, fall or walking into a liquid spill has, more often than not, catastrophic consequences in the workplace.
Adding up the costs of slips
The HSE has published some sobering figures and estimates slip and trip accidents cost UK businesses over £500m annually. The cost to society is put at £800m and, tellingly, it admits that for the individual concerned, the costs are incalculable and could include anything from loss of earnings to lifelong pain and suffering.
The cost of a slip or trip doesn’t only affect the individual, but the business too. The business costs are often much greater than initially thought and can include:
- Costs for increased insurance
- Fines and possible compensation.
- Cost to cover sick pay for those injured
- Gaining replacement staff, or existing staff taken on additional work
- Reduced production and outputs
- Administration time, to deal with the incident, which can involve more than one person
- Plant and equipment repair or replacement
- Depending upon the incident, a business could incur reputational damage
It all adds up, and where negligence has contributed to the incident, the organisation’s is responsible and could harm their brand, image and reputation. A small spillage, costing next to nothing in terms of materials, could have a significant effect on your business.
There is no shortage of advice on how to reduce the likelihood of slips and trips in the workplace. Employers should undertake a risk assessment to identify and eliminate as many potential hazards as possible. They need to look at their flooring materials and footwear requirements. Even when these two things are in place, they still need to be wary of contamination of the shop floor, washroom floors, and kitchen area or canteen floors.
Problems are often due to poor work practices or inadequate housekeeping. They could also arise as a result of leaking roofs, faulty equipment or damaged storage containers. Whatever the cause of contamination – whether it’s a leak or a spill, whether the material itself is hazardous – the contaminant is likely to make a floor surface more precarious. Floors which may seem suitable could quickly become treachorous if a spill occurs, so care should be taken to ensure a full risk assessment is carried out.
The need for speed
Naturally, to avoid contamination, it makes sense to have good quality storage for materials. Plant and machinery should be well maintained. Staff should be trained to identify hazards and avoid spillages. Infrastructure and working practices should be designed to minimise risks. Even so, in this uncertain world, things do go wrong.
We should be prepared because if a spillage occurs, speed is of the essence. Even if the material which has been spilt is benign, the hazards it causes can multiply rapidly. Seepage could result in drains and watercourses becoming polluted. If the contamination affects a walkway or vehicle route, it can quickly spread to other areas, increasing the numbers impacted, the overall level of risk and the costs of cleaning up.
Being prepared is not about being overly cautious. It’s about being responsible, protecting people and protecting the environment. Even if you work only with non-hazardous materials, you still need to be prepared. After all, the banana in your lunchbox isn’t hazardous, but drop its skin and you’ve entered the danger zone.
Organisations that haven’t adequately considered their spill response, often compound the original problem. Imagine engine oil has leaked from a machine on the shop floor. The floor is slippery and with no effective cleaning materials to hand, the machine operator puts a piece of corrugated cardboard down to soak up some of the spillage while he completes the production run. The cardboard hangs around and becomes a trip hazard lying on top of a greasy surface.
Simple, effective solutions
Cleaning up after a spill or leak isn’t complicated providing you act swiftly and have the necessary equipment to hand, and a workforce who are confident and knowledgeable dealing with spills big or small.
There are various spill products suitable to deal with everyday leaks and spills as well as emergency spills. Gaining the right advice with choosing the correct products, where best to position them and trained staff to use them, are essential to keep a business safe and compliant.
We recommend a few simple solutions including the emergency spill kits and spill stations positioned around the site. We also recommend the use of absorbent granules for spills, used alongside our poly carts they can be easily manoeuvred around site, and combine a brush, shovel and waste area for a quick and efficient clean up.
Spill control matters
Some organisations hardly give a second thought to spill management until they’re faced with a serious issue. We encourage businesses to ensure they plan ahead and get their spill response plan in place before a major incident occurs, to save time, resource and money and well as safe guarding your employees, the environment and your business.
A bit of planning, the right tools for the task and some basic spill management knowhow could be all that’s needed to avert a crisis.
Spillcraft provide a complete spill management solution. Find out how we can help you, contact our friendly team to discuss your needs
Our services, to keep you safe and compliant: