We have a large client that works in a high risk sector that had a record of nearly 4 years without a lost time accident. This was a fantastic achievement given they work 24/7, have 300 employees on site and use a large amount of machinery, chemicals and have vehicles moving around. Unfortunately recently this record was lost due to an employee falling on a set of stairs.
The result was a broken arm and the lost time counter they proudly display going back to zero. It just goes to show that no matter how good you might think you are at health and safety things can still go wrong. Most likely it was a lack of concentration on the individual’s part as the workplace is so well maintained we can’t see there was a problem with the steps. Perhaps on a basic level management could be criticised for not advising staff to use the hand rails; as a parent it is something we naturally ask our kids to do.
The problem for the business is the question, how far do you need to go? Our staff are adults after all and surely they should be able to look after themselves shouldn’t they? Unfortunately where people are involved things can and often do go wrong and after the event we start to ask ourselves as businesses what more could we have done.
Many years ago we visited a Shell site where in the case of stairs they took the extra step and made holding handrails mandatory for all persons on site; failure to comply meant disciplinary action. We are sure many will consider this a bit of a drastic action; however for a Shell they felt justified as a number of serious accidents had occurred across their business.
Perhaps this is a step too far in your business; but as slips, trips and falls account for around a third of reported major injuries it’s worth thinking about what you can do.