Falls on Flat Surfaces: A Commonly Overlooked Work Hazard

16 March 2016
By Russell Muller

In the past Workplace safety was something people saw as a necessary evil. Today however, Workplace safety is one of the many aspects that business owners as well as facility managers have started to prioritise, recognising that a safe workforce is more motivated and less of a financial burden. In fact, workplace safety is not only a requirement by Australian law, but it also has a proven effect in boosting productivity, employee retention and end product quality.

The importance of getting flooring right

In our dealings with clients we often get asked about workplace claims and while trends in serious rates of claims is going down, (according to the Key Work Health and Safety, 2015 report), Falls from the same height (including slips and trips on floor surfaces) is still the 3rd most serious cause of injury in Australia, representing 14% of all claims.  A serious claim is defined as a claim where the individual is away from work for one or more weeks.

There are our variety of stories that highlight the damage and burden a workplace injury can cause, both for the individual involved and the business (lost productivity, increased insurance premiums, fines and penalties, business reputation, to name but a few). And it is frustrating as flooring specialists, that the issues causing businesses and employees so much angst  can be avoided, simply by getting your flooring solution right from the start.

Yellow Lines On Floor - Flooring Solutions - Remedial Building Services

Common hazards with commercial or industrial flooring

There are various reasons a level surface becomes unsafe for workers. The most common ones are when the floor is made from a material that’s slippery when wet, or which is cracked and uneven. Our advice to business owners, facilities managers and others with similar responsibilities is to do regular audits of your floor (once a quarter perhaps) and to look out for common flooring problems including:

  • Cracked flooring,
  • Slippery surfaces,
  • High traffic areas which have been known to have falls
  • Hazardous chemicals seeping into the crevices,
  • Staining, and
  • Protrusions of tiles
  • The use of heavy machinery which can cause uneven surfaces.

Maintaining workplace safety requirements

There is a lot that employers and facility managers can do to improve workplace safety, most of which is centered on educating your employees and reminding them that when they see a floor in need of repair, that they don’t wait to report it, but file a note immediately.  As the business owner we know it is hard to not see the immediate expense of having it fixed, but ultimately, the savings you make in keeping your employees, customers and business safe will far outstrip the short term costs. So when you see the first signs of a safety risk on the floor, get help—contact us straight away to discuss your options.

Ultimately, our advice to you is simple: Workplace safety saves lives and protects your most important business asset – your employees, your customers and you.