Wet surfaces present a workplace hazard, and if you are running a busy construction site, slip or trip injuries can cause serious accidents.
Water on site can come from a variety of sources, including rain, cleaning and accident spills, wet winter conditions and activities that require the use of water.
Slips or trips on wet surfaces can result in bruises, strains and sprains, lacerations, fractures, head trauma and even fatalities.
Such injuries can leave you exposed to fines via the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or legal claims by employees who are injured under the Employers Liability section of your Construction Insurance policy.
Each site is different, so the way you adapt your working environment to wet surfaces will be designed on a case-by-case basis, using the appropriate risk management assessments.
The following general guidelines should provide a good start in building your risk assessment profiles:
- Clean up, spillages immediately.
- Use caution signs to clearly identify when a surface is wet or likely to become wet and remove them as soon as the surface is dry.
- Barricade off affected areas where possible.
- Move any ongoing work to an alternative area while your workspace is wet.
- Check for equipment and electrical currents that may not be earthed and wires that are not insulated.
- Use floor mats at the entrances and exits of covered areas to reduce the tracking in of water from outside.
- Whenever possible, focus work on covered areas during wet weather days.
- Construct temporary shelters such as tents or tarpaulin over work areas that do not have existing overhead protection.
- Ensure good drainage to prevent standing water and speed up the drying process.
- Use pumps to disperse water safety from work areas.
- Be sure that workers wear boots with slip-resistant soles and clean them if they become muddy.
- Ensure that any spillages are reported and actioned promptly to reduce risk.
If you or your workers are forced to walk through a wet surface, this checklist can help to avoid slipping and falling.
- Slow down! Your safety is more important than your rush.
- Take small steps to keep your balance centred.
- Walk with your feet pointed slightly outwards to form a stable base.
- Make wide turns at corners.
- Use handrails if present.
- Concentrate on the surface you are walking on.
- Be prepared for slippery patches.
- Keep your hands out for balance.
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