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Slips and Trips

A common cause of accidents are slips and trips.  There are a number of reasons for slip hazards, including wet floors.  Trips can be caused by poor housekeeping or damaged floor surfaces, amongst other causes.

Floors, paths and aisles

Some flooring materials can be slippery, including masonry tiles, polished thermoplastic tiles, polished wooden or laminate flooring and some carpeted finishes.  Flooring types should be chosen to prevent people slipping and to ensure that there is no trip hazard (especially at the edges of the material or any joints in flooring).

Some floors can be slippery when wet, for example, tiles or lino on kitchen floors. When these are being cleaned, a free-standing sign should be displayed to warn people that the floor is slippery, and this should remain until the floor is fully dry. These signs fold away for easy storage, and are commonly seen in use in supermarkets.  Spillages must always be cleaned up immediately and the same free-standing sign can be used as a warning.

Frosty or wet paths and other access routes outside can be slippery. Whenever possible, salt-grit should be applied to frosty and icy paths, which may also be applied in car parks. Additionally, steps and ramps should have hand rails for people to hold. Anti-slip step treads ('nosings') and treatments are available that can be fitted to steps, such as fire escapes, to prevent the chance of people slipping when the steps are wet.

The risk of people slipping or tripping on external pathways is increased if there are any obstructions, such as tree roots, masonry or raised ironwork.  Paths should ideally be directed away from any obstructions and kept clear of moss and grass that could make the surface slippery.  Paths made of concrete, tarmac, flagstones and other surfaces need to be maintained in good condition.

Loose mats and rugs can be a trip hazard and should be avoided if possible. It is preferable to use commercial-style mats with a heavy rubber backing as this reduces the risk of the mat moving under foot.  Carpets should be fitted with suitable fixing strips, especially along doorways and at exposed edges.  Painted floors should be treated with a purpose-made floor paint, which should have a degree of slip resistance.

In some Churches and Places of Worship, flagstones and stone flooring can pose a specific tripping hazard.  People should be directed away from significant tripping hazards where possible, such as a significant step in flagstones as a result of movement.  Black and yellow hazard warning tape could be used to highlight steps, especially where the step is of a non-standard height or where there is a small flight (3 steps or fewer).  A warning sign might also be beneficial, and this can be on display in the porch.  However, if the problem can be fixed, this would be the preferred course of action.

Towers in many older Churches are accessible only by an uneven or spiral staircase.  These areas should be secured to prevent unauthorised people gaining access, or as a minimum a sign should be on display such as 'private' or 'no entry'. 

Steps to storey levels must have a suitable hand-rail.  Sometimes a rope is used on spiral stairs, although a rope is not always considered appropriate for regular use by members of the public.

Equipment hazards

Wires and leads from equipment must not trail across floors as these are a significant trip hazard. This includes cables for sound systems, projectors and any other portable appliance. Wires should either be inside a cable protector ramp or they should otherwise be secured with gaffer tape over the entire length of wire where there could be a trip hazard. Whenever possible, run cables along the outside of a room to limit the risk of the trip hazard, avoiding doorways and aisles.

Carefully position microphone stands, music stands, projector screens and other equipment so that the legs or supports do not pose a trip hazard. Where possible, use microphone stands with cast bases rather than tripod legs if the legs could pose a tripping hazard.

Care is also needed to make sure that equipment that is not being used is correctly stored to prevent tripping hazards.  Avoid storing items directly on the floor and always close cupboards and draws when not in use.  Stored items can also topple and fall over if the items are not secure or properly stored.

Many Churches have baptismal pools, and these can be an area of high risk as the water can make surfaces slippery. Using rubber non-slip mats is a good idea (but the mats should be fixed or heavy enough so that they do not move about).  The base of the baptistry, the steps and the immediate area should be constructed of slip-resistant tiles (or materials with similar characteristics), in a similar way to swimming pools. Loose rugs, mats or even towels on the floor nearby could slip easily and should be avoided.

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