Over the past few months, we have dealt with several injuries that have had to be reported to the HSE under the RIDDOR Regulations. Most of these incidents are connected with slips, trips and falls in the workplace that has resulted in injuries. In most instances, it is not the slip or the trip that causes the injury but the resultant fall that causes people to knock into objects or hit the floor in an uncontrolled manner.
Two recent instances have resulted in broken bones, one to a cleaning operative and the other to a member of the public, both incidents could have been avoided if the operatives had followed the correct procedures. Taking shortcuts may save 5 minutes in the short term but when accidents happen, they often result in pain, suffering and can have financial impacts on both the individual and the company alike.
All companies undertake cleaning, either at their premises and/or at the location of the work. Simple control measures will help to avoid accidents including:
Undertake cleaning tasks outside of busy periods or close off areas wherever practical.
Only use the correct equipment, e.g., use steps instead of standing on chairs.
Have signage in place prior to mopping floors.
If moving items out of the way to clean, make sure they are secure and cannot fall presenting additional hazards.
Look to change hazardous cleaning chemicals for less hazardous alternatives.
If decanting cleaning chemicals, do so in a safe manner and as appropriate wear protective gloves and protective eyewear where splashes are likely.
Observation (near-miss) reporting
In 1931, Herbert Heinrich wrote “Industrial Accident Prevention: A Scientific Approach,” with theories surrounding the causes of accidents in the workplace. He said 88 percent of accidents are caused by “unsafe acts of persons” and put forth what often is referred to as Heinrich’s accident triangle or pyramid:
The theory states that in a group of 330 accidents, 300 will result in no injuries, 29 will result in minor injuries and one will result in a major injury. There are several variations on the theory, but the main point has remained the same, if we report and act on observations, we will ultimately drive down accidents in the workplace.