Slips, trips and falls are often perceived or dismissed as a minor risk, and the associated costs and collective size of the risk are therefore widely undervalued.
There are a substantial number of such incidents which are RIDDOR reportable – 36%, in fact. The resulting injuries are also not necessarily minor in nature; reportable slips, trips and falls make up 57% of major injuries.
There can also be a misconception that this type of incident occurs in respect of employees. However, half of all accidents concerning members of the public as a result of activities in the workplace are slips, trips and falls, with 25 being fatal in 2013-14.
Although, on the whole, individual costs arising out of slips, trips and falls are not necessarily significant (the average claim is settled at £11,500, costs inclusive), collectively they can pose a significant risk, particularly if they have, indeed, been underestimated. In fact, one supermarket has admitted that, in order to afford personal injury costs, it must keep open five of its stores!
Further, it has been estimated that for every pound saved in the direct cost of defending a claim, another £10 is saved in hidden costs, including loss of reputation and productivity or management and investigation time.
An increase in fraudulent activity in this area is also likely, given the recent reforms, restrictions and future proposals in respect of the Government's crackdown on whiplash fraud. We may therefore see claimant solicitors and claims management companies migrating from motor to other more lucrative markets, particularly employers' and public liability issues, using similar claims farming techniques to capitalise on areas less affected by the recent changes and proposals.