Employees working on their own can face a number of additional hazards. For example, using a ladder or lifting heavy objects could be too much for one person.
Historic properties can present different slip and trip hazards to modern buildings and can challenge standard preventative methods, often due to the fabric of the building or design constraints.
Slips and trips cause many injuries, mostly minor but they can be severe and disabling. They are the most common cause of injury in UK workplaces1, and they account for over a third of liability claims2. Hazards can be present inside a property and outside of it, in car parks, grounds and access roads, and temporary structures such as marquees.
In comparison with today, historic properties were most likely built to different standards (if any at all) and for very different purposes. Over time, buildings change becoming worn or damaged and whilst this is part of their story, hazards develop.
Most slips occur when smooth flooring such as stone becomes wet or contaminated as a result of weather conditions or a spillage. Commonly, trips are caused by broken or uneven flooring, hidden steps or worn floor coverings and where electricity cables trail across the floor. Poorly lit areas and tight spiral staircases can also cause a slip or trip.
Following a unique project by Ecclesiastical and leading researchers at the Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL), we have produced a series of guides to help manage slips and trips at historic premises.
The eight-part guide considers a 360o view from prevention to defensibility, and outlines cost-effective, yet sympathetic solutions to protect buildings as well as people.
You can access the practical findings of this unique research by reading more about the different risk factors via the images below or going direct to the guidance documents listed at the bottom of this page.
The fabric and design of a building can be something to celebrate but might also be a risk.
How do we strike the balance between protecting people and preserving our history, all without breaking the bank?
Inspection and maintenance
It is important to have an effective approach to inspecting and maintaining floors, paths and other walkways in preventing slips and trips.
It can also help in a defense case should a claim be made against you.
The environment and contamination
People are more likely to slip if they don’t see the hazard or if something on the floor affects their grip.
The most important risk factors are lighting levels; adverse weather conditions (affecting conditions underfoot); and contaminants (anything on a floor surface that can make it more slippery).
Proper cleaning and good housekeeping can help to eliminate many slip and trip hazards.
It is easy to get this wrong or ignore it, introducing trip hazards or leaving smooth floors wet and slippery.
Understanding how people access and use your property is an excellent way to identify slip and trip hazards.
Consideration should be given to normal, day-to-day activities and the different behaviours displayed at events.
How you share information with staff/volunteers and visitors about preventing slips and trips is also a key precaution.
Naturally, you will want to meet any legal responsibilities you may have. Understanding these will be important and should help you respond in a sensible and proportionate manner.
You can access detailed information about these in relation to slips and trips in Module 2: Slips and trips and the law.
1Health and Safety Executive – Preventing slips and trips at work, a brief guide.
2 Ecclesiastical claims data