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The importance of fall prevention at the heart of health and safety


In light of Injury Awareness Week, The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) is emphasising the need for businesses to prioritise fall prevention and establish robust strategies within their workplaces

Falls constitute the second leading cause of unintentional injury fatalities on a global scale. Furthermore, slips, trips, and falls are the primary cause of workplace injuries, resulting in a staggering toll on both human health and financial resources. 

These incidents are extremely costly to the healthcare sector, with costs to the UK’s NHS a staggering US$2.55bn annually and account for more than four million bed days as an example. Despite these alarming statistics, RoSPA asserts that there is still significant work to be done to address and mitigate the risks associated with falls. Yet despite the stark figures, RoSPA says there is still a lot to do when it comes to fall prevention. 

Karen McDonnell, OHS policy advisor at RoSPA, said, “We recognise that slips and trips are one of the most common yet overlooked causes of injury and death in the workplace – whether that’s falls from height or on the shop floor. While the figures make bleak reading, the positive news is that we can prevent falls, it just takes planning and resource. 

Advising on steps businesses can take to reduce falls in the workplace, McDonnell explained, “Creating and implementing a falls prevention strategy does not depend on vast sums of money and can be easily achieved by following simple steps. It can be as straightforward as keeping work areas tidy and ensuring walkways are clear, to clear cable management systems and the installation of handrails alongside stairs.

“Having dedicated health and safety team members who regularly check their areas to identify and remedy slip and trip hazards is key, as well as the mind-set of ‘see it, sort it and report it.’ While these steps might seem obvious, they can be the difference between life and death.

“For businesses looking to bolster their workplace safety, we advise seeking professional support and guidance from a reputable health and safety organisation – not only can it protect your team and clients, it protects your bottom line too.”

RoSPA has worked closely with businesses of all sizes including homebuilders, Berkley Group and Orbit Homes, to reduce injuries deaths on stairs at home via its Safer Stairs campaign, which looks to reduce falls on the stairs. It is estimated that stairs in new homes built to the British Standard BS5395-1 would reduce the risk of falls by a staggering 60%. Enshrining BS5395-1 into law would therefore save the NHS up to US$6.37mn every year through accident reduction. This change is currently being consulted on.

Click here to read about a web event hosted by the International Labour Organisation to mark Word Day for Safety and Health at Work.