Poor lighting, distracting noises and damp or icy conditions contribute to slips, trips and falls, and these issues all need attention to reduce risk.
Assess the risk
Poor lighting and inability to see hazard
When people can't see the hazard, they can't avoid it. Check your workplace for areas with:
- low light
- dark shadows
- changes in lighting, for example, moving from brightness to darkness
- glare or reflections
- dust/particles in the air
- 'blind' corners.
The most important areas to assess are:
- steps and stairways
- where flooring changes
- where spills and contaminants are possible
- areas used during the night/minimal daylight
- any area with known slip, trip, fall hazards.
Some occupational groups have to work with some restricted vision, and these people are at higher risk of having a slip, trip or fall accident. This includes people working and moving at workplaces with any of the following characteristics:
- darkened or smoky conditions
- unfamiliar environments
- inconsistent flooring/surfaces
- outdoor environments
- need to wear personal protective equipment such as goggles, face masks or helmets.
Where vision on a task is reduced, the need for good hearing and other senses is increased.
Effect of restricted hearing
When people can't hear clearly, they can also miss warnings. At your workplace, consider peoples' ability to hear:
- other people or plant coming around a hidden corner
- things splashing or falling on the floor
- things coming up from behind
- verbal or auditory signals or instructions.
The use of headphones or ear buds will reduce perception of these potential hazards, and noises can also be a distraction, by taking people's attention away from where they are walking.
Effect of extremes of temperature or humidity
In more extreme environments, ice and water or condensation will add to slips accidents. This includes when people are:
- working in freezers and cold room
- using ice and iced products
- moving in areas with high humidity and condensation, for example kitchens, indoor pools, laundries.
Decide on control measures
The best lighting provides an even distribution of light both within and between areas so that people can clearly see the path of travel and safely undertake work activities. Glare, shadowing and/or reflections are prevented. Managing the work environment and facilities Code of Practice 2011 (PDF, 0.7 MB) provides some guidance for suitable lighting. Maintenance and cleaning of light fixtures is also needed.
Where hearing will be restricted, other modes of gaining attention are required – e.g. visual signals, movement, touch etc. Wearing headphones and ear buds (e.g. for music, etc.) should be avoided in high risk areas where all attention needs to be on the job.
Managing extreme temperatures
The best strategies to reduce risk in the more extreme environmental conditions include to:
- remove ice build-ups
- check door seals
- prevent/reduce humidity
- provide slip-resistant flooring
- wear slip-resistant footwear.