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Heights of Safety

Heights of Safety

Safety issues associated with work of a temporary nature Barry Wilkes looks at the importance of health and safety in work of temporary nature andhow work at height in particular needs to be well managed.

As health and safety practitioners we know that some sectors and occupations are more dangerous than others. This is confirmed when we explore a range of global or local safety
statistics associated with different sectors, such as those reported by the International Labour Organization (ILO) for construction, for example. According to the ILO at least 60,000
people are killed every year on construction sites worldwide. That is around one death every 10 minutes. Overall the industry accounts for almost one in five of all fatal workplace accidents.

As practitioners we should look behind the headline figures featured in reporting of this kind, to help us establish what makes an industry particularly dangerous. For example, research
consistently reveals that deaths in construction are most commonly associated with falls from height, while in the oil and gas industry fatalities are more frequently caused by equipment failures and transportation issues.

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Dropped object prevention platform launched

Dropped object prevention platform launched

Dropped object prevention platform launched

New website promotes safety to prevent dropped object accidents.

This online platform does not guard against bird droppings, comets or asteroids falling from the sky, but instead focuses on accidents arising from items that fall from multi-level worksites. Dropped object risks account for a significant number of severe accidents in the offshore and other labor intensive industries. Westmark BV’s new website offers simple and affordable solutions to prevent such accidents and improve safety.

According to the Health & Safety Executive Offshore Division, approximately 55 percent of all accidents on board a drilling rig or well operating platform are caused by dropped objects. The other 45 percent of accidents are caused by falling from heights, slips, trips and falls, handling or tools and machinery operations.

Working at heights, beneath scaffolding or areas where overhead work is being performed puts workers and the public below at risk of being injured by dropped objects. A dropped object is, according to oil & gas multinational Chevron, “Any object, with the potential to cause death, injury or equipment / environmental damage that falls from its previous static position under its own weight.”

The following items are considered dropped objects:

  • Hand tools being used at heights
  • Hand tools / equipment left behind after working at height
  • Equipment mounted at a height that, following contact, vibration or environmental conditions, could fall, i.e., piping, lights, cameras, rigging gear, etc.
  • Lifting operations provides the necessary tools for safety engineers to prevent and mitigate against the risk of dropped objects. The online platform offers advice and simple solutions to keep your employees and contractors safe while working at multi-level worksites.

For more information visit:, or contact Westmark BV in the Netherlands at telephone number: +31.(0)33.4614844

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Frequent enclosed-space drills now required aboard SOLAS ships

Space drills now required aboard SOLAS ships

Frequent enclosed-space drills now required aboard SOLAS ships

A new regulation requires crews aboard ships sailing internationally to participate in onboard training on the dangers of enclosed spaces and how to prevent injuries and deaths.

Vessels sailing under Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) must provide crew with enclosed-space drills every two months. The rule went into effect in January.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) amended SOLAS in an effort to prevent accidents involving confined spaces that contain dangerous gases or are devoid of oxygen. Examples include fuel tanks, cargo holds and anchor lockers. The instruction emphasizes prevention, including the use of gas-detection meters, as well as proper procedures for emergency response and first aid.

The new rule resulted from recognition that there have been too many preventable deaths involving enclosed-space entry on ships, said Paul Drouin, a maritime safety consultant and president of in Quebec City. Worldwide, an average of two seafarers are killed each month in confined-space-entry incidents, according to an IMO report.

“The training is crucial. You need the awareness and the training, and of course the pre-identification is highly recommended,” said Drouin, who has published safety information about these dangers as editor of the Nautical Institute’s Mariners’ Alerting and Reporting Scheme (MARS).

The training teaches crews about ventilation, testing the atmosphere, temperature control, locking out internal systems, lighting, protective equipment, communications and emergency response.

“It’s aimed at crew that have enclosed-space duties — entering or staying outside for safety reasons — and the first-aid people who would respond to an injury,” he said.

A safety poster developed by the Marine Accident Investigators’ International Forum offers an at-a-glance warning to remind crew to “STOP … THINK … ASK” before they enter a potentially hazardous space.

The poster defines enclosed spaces as “a space that has any of the following characteristics: limited openings for entry and exit, inadequate ventilation, (or) is not designed for continuous worker occupancy.”

Crew should “stop” work unless they are sure that safety procedures have been initiated. They should “think” about whether they have permission to enter. The poster urges crew to “ask” for instructions.

Five panels illustrating examples of enclosed spaces are included as part of a safety poster produced by Marine Accident Investigators’ International Forum. An enclosed or confined space is defined as any space that has limited openings for entry or exit, offers inadequate ventilation or is not designed for continuous worker occupancy.

Courtesy Marine Accident Investigators’ International Forum

Aboard U.S. Military Sealift Command (MSC) ships, the master must appoint a gas free engineer to evaluate whether a space is safe to enter, according to the MSC’s safety management system. A stand-by person must be posted outside the area.

“No persons shall enter a confined space unless a current Gas Free Certificate is posted outside the space,” the MSC document states.

Safety experts recommend that hand-held gas detection meters should be used. They typically test for the presence of dangerous gases including hydrogen sulfide and carbon monoxide. These can be present in fuel tanks and other machinery spaces. The detectors also warn the user when oxygen levels are too low for humans to breathe. Rust or certain cargoes can deplete oxygen. Another issue is paint fumes.

Labeling of the potentially risky compartment is the first step, said Drouin, a former casualty investigator with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.

“Best practice is all enclosed spaces are pre-identified — all tanks, all chain lockers. You have on the manhole covers big red letters (that say it’s an) enclosed space and follow the procedure,” Drouin said.

In emphasizing the need for protective equipment and proper rescue and resuscitation procedures, the new training attempts to address the problem of second and even third individuals becoming casualties because they entered the space in an effort to assist a shipmate who fell unconscious.

The training should help the crew gain a better appreciation of the dangers and reduce complacency throughout the ship, Drouin said.

“Some enclosed spaces are less evident than others,” he said. “Everybody’s aware that a fuel tank needs to be degassed and ventilated, but a potable water tank is just as enclosed. You won’t have dangerous gases in a potable water tank, but you could have a lack of oxygen.”

In a 2013 Safety Alert titled “Confined Space Entry Dangers,” the U.S. Coast Guard offered two other examples of enclosed-space hazards that may not be obvious. During a port state inspection, an inspector was entering a free-fall lifeboat when his gas meter alarmed. The boat contained carbon monoxide.

“Wind conditions had been blowing exhaust from the main stack into the lifeboat,” the Coast Guard wrote. “Although not a confined space by (regulatory) standards, the risks were the same.”

The second example occurred when an inspector was evaluating a deep ballast tank and had planned “to climb through a boxlike structure formed by floors and longitudinals in the No.1 bay, just aft of the collision bulkhead.” Prior to entering the lightening hole, his gas meter sounded, indicating low oxygen content.

“In both instances, the proper use of a gas meter likely prevented tragic consequences,” the Safety Alert stated. “The Coast Guard strongly recommends that all shipboard personnel and those associated with inspections, surveys or audits (understand) that hazardous atmospheres are frequently present aboard vessels and pose a great risk to personal safety.

“Besides the use of a personal gas meter for immediate protection, all organizations should have policies and procedures in place that address accessing these areas and make available the appropriate safety equipment for personnel.”

On SOLAS vessels, IMO is requiring training sessions every two months to accommodate the arrival of new crewmembers and as a reminder to existing personnel.

“It’s very important to insist on repetitive training and refresher training,” Drouin said.


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Detection of gas

Gas detectors can be found in all walks of life, from food processing plants to parking garages, from aeroplanes to casinos. Any place that can have a potential lack of oxygen or presence of toxic gas needs a gas detector present to monitor the safety of people. Some common uses during field projects are: confined space entry, well drilling, soil screening, area monitoring, worker safety, indoor air quality, and leak detection.

Of course they have been around for a very long time, starting with the canary, which was sadly a one shot trick that when subjected to methane tended to die rather quickly, with no audio visual alarm capabilities other than a slight chirp and a total lack of motion. Fortunately, technology has advanced significantly and we find ourselves at this point in time with some very sophisticated electronic equipment.

Let’s cover some basics:

  • One ppm is one part in 1,000,000 parts. Generally, ppm (parts per million) is the lowest unit of measurement 10,000 ppm = 1% by volume
  • LEL (Lower Explosive Limit) is the next unit of measurement and is a percentage of the explosive %(vol) level of a compound
  • 100% LEL is the lowest concentration at which a flammable substance can produce a fire or explosion when ignited
  • UEL (Upper Explosive Limit) is the maximum concentration of gas in air that will burn
  • Each compound (gas) has a different LEL, or the point at which the compound will burn or become explosiv
  • Most flammable compounds become explosive at less than 5% volume
  • Each gas has a different LEL and UEL
  • The percentage of gas is the highest unit of measurement, which is the amount of pure gas

How do gas detection sensors work?

Modern technology will no doubt make the below explanation outdated as it strides forward, so quickly below are the basics.

The oxygen sensor is an electromechanical sensor. Any gas that can be oxidised or reduced electromechanically can be detected by means of a fuel based electrochemical sensor. The consumption of oxygen produces a current that is linearly proportional to the concentration of gas in air.

Since the oxygen sensor is constantly exposed to oxygen, the normal life of the sensor is between one and two years.

The combustible sensor consists of two coils of fine platinum wire each embedded in a bead of alumina, connected electrically in a bridge circuit. One of the beads is impregnated with a special catalyst that promotes oxidation and the other is treated to inhibit oxidation. Current is passed through the coils so that they reach a temperature at which oxidation of a gas readily occurs at the catalysed bead (about 500°C).

This raises the temperature further which increases the resistance of the platinum coil in the catalysed bead, leading to an imbalance of the bridge. This output change is linear, for most gases, up to and beyond 100% LEL and response time is only a few seconds to detect alarm levels (typically 20% LEL).

The toxic sensors are also electromechanical and operate by the same basic principles as the oxygen sensor. Electromechanical sensors consume minute amounts of gas, the absorption of gas and electric output being controlled by a “diffusion barrier”.

Confined spaces and gas detection

A confined space is any space large enough for someone to enter and perform assigned work that has limited means of entry or exit, and which is not designed for continuous worker occupancy. This covers just about every industry, including utilities, construction, hydrocarbon exploration and processing, petrochemicals, marine, agriculture, food processing and brewing, as well as the emergency services.

Employers must assess the risks these workplaces pose to their employers and endeavour to prevent them. In most cases, both assessment and the safe working system will require testing of the atmosphere with gas testing equipment.

Confined space gas risks can be divided into three broad categories: combustible gas, toxic gas and oxygen depletion or enrichment.

Combustible gas risks

For combustion to occur the air must contain a minimum concentration of combustible gas or vapour. This quantity is called the LEL. Different compounds have different LELs so it is vital that detectors are capable of detecting at the correct levels.

Typically, storage vessels which have contained hydrocarbon fuels and oils present a danger. Other dangers come from fuel leaks: burst fuel containers; pipelines on and off site, gas cylinders and engine driven plant. For workers in pits, sewers and other sub-surface locations, methane formed by decaying organic matter is an almost universal danger.

Toxic gas and vapours

Confined space workers may be exposed to many toxic compounds, depending on the nature of the work. A risk assessment should be made of which toxic substances a worker may be exposed to in any given work situation.

When looking at toxic gases related to specific applications, the water industry for example uses many toxic compounds for cleaning and processing both waste and clean water. Hazards such as chlorine, ozone, sulphur dioxide and chlorine dioxide then pose additional risks both in storage and treatment areas.

Oxygen – too high or too low?

The normal concentration of oxygen in fresh air is 20.9%. An atmosphere is hazardous if the concentration drops below 19.5% or goes above 23.5%.

Without adequate ventilation, the simple act of breathing will cause oxygen levels to fall surprisingly quickly. Combustion also uses up oxygen, so engine-driven plant and naked flames such as welding torches are potential hazards. Oxygen can also be displaced. Nitrogen, for example, when used to purge hydrocarbon storage vessels prior to re-use, drives oxygen out of the container and leaves it highly dangerous until thoroughly ventilated.

High oxygen levels are also dangerous. As with too little, too much will impair the victim’s ability to think clearly and act sensibly. Moreover, oxygen-enriched atmospheres represent a significant fire hazard.

Gas detector types

Both portable and fixed gas detectors can be used for confined space monitoring. Fixed systems typically comprise of one or more detector “heads” connected to a separate control panel. If a detector reads a dangerous gas level, the panel raises the alarm by triggering external sirens and beacons. This sort of installation is suited to larger spaces like plant rooms, which have sufficient room for the hardware or remote stations that are usually unmanned.

However, much confined space work takes place in more restricted areas, making compact portable units more suitable. Ease of use, with one button operation, means minimal training is required while increased safety is ensured. Combining one or more sensors with powerful audible and visual signals to warn when pre-set gas levels are reached, portable detectors can be carried or worn wherever they are needed. In addition, a compact instrument is easily carried in a confined space, ensuring that pockets of high gas concentration are not missed.

Certain features should be expected in every portable gas detector. Clearly life-saving tools for demanding environments must be as tough as possible, with reliable electronics housed in impact resistant casings. While the need to leave gas sensors exposed to the atmosphere means that no instrument can be fully sealed, a high degree of protection against dust and water ingress is essential. Toughness notwithstanding, a well-designed detector will also be light and compact enough to wear for an entire shift.

Finally, because of the difficulties of working in a cramped space, perhaps under poor lighting, instruments should be easy to use. No matter how advanced a detector’s internal architecture or data management options, personnel in the field should be faced with nothing more daunting than a clear display, simple, one-button operation and loud/bright alarms.

Combustible gas sensors

As detailed below, combustible gas sensors come in the form of catalytic, metallic oxide semiconductor, and infra-red.

Catalytic combustible gas sensors

Searching out explosive atmospheres, catalytic combustible gas sensors detect combustible gases by causing a combustion of gases within the sensor chamber.

Not only do catalytic sensors offer good linearity, they can also react to most combustible gases. As resistance change to %LEL is relatively small, however, they do work better in concentrations between 1,000 and 50,000ppm.

As for their drawbacks:

  • They do not measure trace amounts (under 200ppm) of gas and so should not be used to determine toxic levels
  • To work accurately they require 14% minimum oxygen in air
  • Not recommended for use in acetylene atmospheres
  • The sensor can be damaged by lead, silicone or other catalytic poisons
  • Readings can be affected by water vapour condensation and humidity
  • Poor response to low energy hydrocarbons, e.g. oil vapours, kerosene, diesel fuel and commercial jet fuels
  • Oftentimes they lose linearity after approximately one year

Metallic oxide semiconductor (MOS) combustible gas sensor

Also known as solid state sensors, Metallic Oxide Semiconductor (MOS) combustible gas sensors have been around for years. With a long operation life of three to five years this is a very resilient sensor that recovers well from high gas concentrations that could damage other types of sensors.

As with catalytic sensors, readings of MOS sensors can also be affected by humidity and water vapour condensation. In addition, while not requiring as much oxygen as their catalytic counterpart, they too require oxygen to work accurately.

In addition to the above mentioned disadvantages, further MOS sensor specific disadvantages include:

  • Heating elements in some MOS sensors require a great deal of power, meaning larger battery packs are required
  • Despite responding to many VOCs, HFCs and solvents, MOS sensors are not specific to any single compound

Infra-red combustible sensors

Relatively recently these sensors have been appearing in some instruments. They work well in low oxygen levels or acetylene atmospheres; however, they are quite expensive. These sensors work by reflecting light off a mirror and measuring the amount of light absorbed during refraction. Infrared sensors typically require a constant flow across the sensing assembly and may be slow to clear from alarm. They are unable to detect hydrogen. An infra-red sensor calibrated for a simple hydrocarbon such as methane or ethane will not be accurate for vapour of higher molecular weight hydrocarbons, solvents or fuels.

Toxic sensors

Electrochemical (wet chem) toxic sensors

These sensors react to a specific chemical (substance). Chemically specific sensors are available for up to 30 different gases including chlorine, ammonia, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, nitric oxide, hydrogen cyanide, hydrogen sulphide and sulphur dioxide. The manufacturers technical information will indicate what sensors are available for their unit.

These sensors have good linearity, which makes them very accurate for the substance they will react to. They can measure either large or small quantities and these sensors have a typical life span of approximately one year for many toxic gases and up to two years for hydrogen sulphide and carbon monoxide.

As with all sensors, wet chem sensors are not without their limitations. The electrolytic fluid can freeze when left in environments having temperatures lower than 0ºC. Some chemical sensors may be adversely affected by altitude as they may be pressure sensitive.

Metallic oxide semiconductor (MOS) toxic broad range gas sensors

There are a number of different MOS sensors on the market and one has been developed for detecting toxic gases. Its make-up and operation is similar to the one used for the detection of combustible gases. However, the MOS broad range toxic sensor is capable of reacting to low PPM levels of wide range of toxic gases including carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulphide, ammonia, styrene, toluene, gasoline and many other hydrocarbons and solvents. MOS sensors cannot detect carbon dioxide or sulfur dioxide. The sensor is incapable of telling you what gas you have encountered or the concentration, only that the atmosphere may be hazardous to your health.

Photo ionisation detectors (PIDs)

Health and safety professionals and others have been using photo ionisation sensor technology for evaluating atmospheric hazards in the workplace since the 1960s. Life expectancy of these sensors is from one to three years. They are usually too costly to use in a multi-sensor instrument.


For those of you who work in atmospheres that could be hazardous to your health, selecting the right gas detector could be the single most important decision you ever make. Your life could hinge on that decision so it is critical that the user/purchaser make themselves aware of the hazards that could be encountered and the proper sensors to protect them. Data gathered in the late 1970s and early 1980s indicated that 65% of those who died in confined spaces were unaware that the space they were entering was a potential hazard. Over 50% of confined space deaths occur to the rescuers and over one third of the fatalities occurred after the space was tested, declared safe and the gas detector was removed.

Selecting a gas detector should be based on the hazard faced. Unfortunately, far too many purchasers make one of the largest and most crucial single equipment expenditures without really understanding what they are buying. Sensors and their capabilities are the single most important factor when choosing a gas detector, yet more often than not decisions are based on size, price and features that have nothing to do with the instrument’s detecting abilities.

Gas detectors come in a variety of sizes, shapes, colours and sensor configurations. For confined space work, it is necessary to monitor for oxygen deficiency/enrichment, combustible gases and toxics. An instrument capable of dealing with these three hazards is essential.

Source: HSI

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Preventing slips

Preventing slips

Slips often happen due to wet or slippery floors. Wet and slippery floors can sometimes be easily tackled by small adjustments in the work environment. For example, a change in the cleaning regime proved one company to reduce its slips by 80%. Think small adjustments; choose a convenient time to clean the floors when most employees are behind their desks, workstations or worksites in the field, rather than cleaning floors at 7:45 am, just before all employees arrive to work, or just before the shift change. Have a door mat for all entry points, it’s cheap and effective.

Simple slip prevention includes using the correct type of slip.resistant footwear. Remember, if footwear is supplied as personal protective equipment (PPE), it must be supplied free of charge to employees. The decision to involve the affected employees in choosing the right shoes, will help the employees understand the issues and will promote positive change. Also, consider age and construction of buildings, whether there is evidence of leaking roofs, if walkways are exposed to the elements, or whether there is a potential for water, mud, ice or other substance build.up.


The most important factor in slip accident prevention is to have decent grip at all times. In a food industry plant this method reduced slipping accidents up to 60%. Having arrangements for routine cleaning and dealing with accidental spills is normal practice in every company. Where floors cannot be kept clean and dry, again, slip.resistant footwear can prevent accidents.

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How to ‘tackle’ trips

How to ‘tackle’ trips

Trips are often caused by uneven floor surfaces and obstacles, or trip hazards. These can be prevented by design and good housekeeping regimes. Keeping the workplace clean and organized is the clear prevention message in this chapter. Are there any trip hazards in corridors and walkways or in the entire industrial work environment? Think of tripping hazards such as cables, tools, hoses, boxes, pallets, or other objects that could cause a potential tripping accident. Removing these hazards can be done by tying them up next to the walkways, or re.routing these items away from the walk spaces.



Quick solutions to remove hazardous obstructions from the work floor vary, from tie.wraps, steel wires, welding anodes and ‘S’ shaped safety hooks. Cablesafe hooks are a simple product designed to suspend hoses, wires, cables and ropes. “Standard hooks are used by most of the major oil and gas companies, and enable employees to adhere to their housekeeping and safety policies. According to Westmark, these hooks do not conduct electricity and are heat resistant; the hooks are designed to improve safety on the work floor and allow for decent object and cable protection against wear and tear. Keeping walkways and work areas free of dangerous obstructions is key to safety and good housekeeping.

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Checking your walkways

Checking your walkways

Check for suitable walkways .Are they in the right place? Are they being used? Are they available for use? What tasks are taking place on the walkway? Are some tasks preventing the employee from seeing where he or she is going?


Walkways must be safe to walk over at all times. Confronted with tasks carrying loads of tools or boxes in hand, employees should have the confidence that you and your co.workers have housekeeping elements embedded in their work operation. This can be done by well described company policies and procedures, which should be implemented through company campaigns and brought into the company culture by training for all employees. By keeping walkways safe and clean, employees’ experience free walkways with no clutter. Well.marked and obstructed repair sites will have better visibility during construction, maintenance or turnaround activities.

Do you already have enough policies and procedures, but still want to improve the bottom line by safe work attitude adjustment? Try to apply a approach. For example, a refinery with many contractors, different job requirements and safety policies may pressure the workers to cut corners by not following these company guidelines and procedures. “Employees often work under high pressure, creating unsafe situations and unwanted costly accidents as a result,” says Lodewijk Westerbeek van Eerten, Director of Westmark BV, manufacturer of Cablesafe safety hooks. He explains that a turnaround manager at a refinery hired a low paid student for work place improvement. “They had this guy constantly walk around with a backpack full of hooks and let him try to find as many items as possible to hook up. Cheap, simple and effective, introducing this ‘, not requirement’ did not only provide an immediate result, but it had a positive influence in the way employees worked safer in an unobstructed work environment.”

Keeping walkways safe and clean At some sites, as well as over 30% of injuries are caused by slips, trips and falls. Industry statistics confirm this. The British Ceramics Confederation did research on this topic and found that when accidents happen, employees are absent from work. This puts pressure on families, costs money, and hurts the bottom line. Could all of this be avoided? Lost time injuries by slips, trips and falls are often simple prevent and can improve the companies’ incident ratings in the short term.

Housekeeping simply improves the workplace for others, who can in their turn dedicate time to focus on their core jobs and appreciate not having to sort their cables and hoses out in the end. A benefit is that hoses and cables do not wear as fast by passing traffic, resulting in fewer spills.

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Design and maintenance of the workplace environment

Design and maintenance of the workplace environment

When assessing the quality of your safety regime, ask the following questions: Is the floor suitable and safe for the workers? Is it fitted correctly and properly maintained? Are walkways wide enough and do they have no unexpected level differences? Are stairs suitable? Are solid handrails available at every stair case? Do environmental factors such as good lighting conditions also fall in the category of good housekeeping? Is there enough light for employees to identify hazards?


Floor openings used for maintenance or repair should be well marked. Make sure lighting is sufficient and that slopes, unbalanced variations in floor levels, and steps are clearly visible. Keep walkways and work areas clear of obstructions. Blunt objects in walkways should be well marked and have soft padding. Slips and trips are not only unpleasant, but are costly to the bottom line. Use common sense to review risks. Discuss “What if’s…”, and find low cost solutions.

It leaves us with the question; should housekeeping be an essential part of your safety department when it comes to preventing the most likely type of accidents on your work floor?

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Slips, Trips & Falls Cost the Around £800M per Year

Slips, Trips & Falls Cost the Around £800M per Year

According to the HSE

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It works to prevent death, injury and ill-health to those at work and those affected by work activities. Slip, trip and fall incidents in the workplace cost 40 workers their lives last year and cost society an estimated £800 million each year, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) warned today as it launched a hard-hitting campaign.

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HSE figures show that slips and trips are the most common cause of major workplace injury in Britain. More workplace deaths are triggered by falls from height than any other cause, according to official statistics. In addition to 40 fatalities, there were over 15,000 major injuries to workers, as well as over 30,000 workers having to take over three days off work.

As well as the tragic human cost, preventable slips, trips and falls are having a serious financial impact on the UK. HSE estimates that the combined financial costs incurred by society as a whole is around £800million a year, at a time when both businesses and individuals are struggling financially during the current recession.

In response, HSE is launching a new phase of its Shattered Lives campaign, aimed at reducing slips, trips and falls in the workplace. The hard hitting campaign involves raising awareness of the impact of slips, trips and falls in the workplace and direct people to the new Shattered Lives website ( uk/shatteredlives) for practical advice and guidance.

The campaign is targeted at those sectors were there are a high number of slips, trips and falls incidents each year, specifically, health and social care, education, food manufacturing, food retail, catering and hospitality, building and plant maintenance, and construction.

On the new campaign website, people will be able to find out information on how they can easily, and cost effectively, reduce the risk of slips, trips and falls in the workplace, and see what other organisations, such as Sainsbury’s and First Line Digital, have done. Included on the site is an online tool (STEP) and a work at height access equipment toolkit (WAIT). Advice ranges from how to deal with spills and other slip risks, to the importance of using ladders correctly to reduce the risk of falling from height.

Peter Brown, Head of the HSE’s Work and Environment Division, said: “These figures highlight the very real and serious nature of preventable slip, trip and fall incidents in the workplace. Slips, trips and falls might sound funny but they shatter the lives of thousands of British workers ever year. “Making improvements doesn’t need to cost the earth and we are encouraging people to visit the Shattered Lives website, where they will be able to get simple and cost effective

solutions to help manage slips, trips and falls hazards in their workplace.” Brendan Barber, TUC General Secretary, said: “Every one of the 40 deaths caused by slips, trips and falls preventable. The key is proper risk assessment and control measures as highlighted by the HSE. Unions will warmly welcome this practical hard-hitting campaign and will be raising the issue with employers wherever and wherever they can.”

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Improving essential housekeeping elements

Improving essential housekeeping elements

It is not just good enough to have a walkway; it must be kept clear, no obstructions and no trailing wires. Employees and cleaners need to have “see it, sort it” attitude to ensure these and other work areas are kept clear. Is the cleaning regime effective? Are there enough storage bins on the facility? Have you described this standard type of working in your company?


Keep it clear, remove cables and hoses and work in a clean environment by suspending obstructions with tie.wraps or hooks from the work floor. This will not only improve the lifecycle of these tools and cables, but it will significantly reduce the number of tripping points. Apply housekeeping to keep walk ways helps employees and contractors understand that your company applies high safety standards by tackling direct causes of the highest incident rate; slips, trips and falls. That’s Cablesafety!

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