Ecclesiastical helps historic properties manage slips and trips


Ecclesiastical and the Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL) have developed a series of detailed guidance to help brokers discuss slips and trips with clients who have responsibility for a heritage property.

According to Ecclesiastical claims data 2017-2019, slips and trips account for more than a third of injury claims. The HSL tell us they are the most common cause of injury and although minor in many cases, sometimes they can be severe and even disabling. Managing slips and trips is therefore a big responsibility for organisations both to protect employees and members of the public.

Working with world-leading researchers, the Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL), a department of regulator the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Ecclesiastical has developed solutions that are uniquely tailored to historic premises.

Historic properties can present a variety of different hazards when compared with modern buildings. This can be due to their age, how they are used today compared to what they were originally built for, design and materials. Standards and guidance on slips and trips tends to be aimed at modern offices and factories. The challenge for historic buildings is that these standards are difficult to implement in older buildings, possibly constructed before standards even existed.

The new guidance looks at practical ways to protect people, as well as the historic fabric of the building, without using solutions such as modern handrails, concrete infills and bright coloured hazard tape that are often impractical and out of character.

It considers a 360o view of slips and trips from prevention to defence, highlighting best practice and recognising the challenges faced by historic properties. 

The series of eight modules cover topics including:

  • Slips and trips and the law
  • Risk assessments
  • Preventing slips
  • Preventing trips
  • Defensibility considerations

Some simple solutions to common causes of slips and trips include:

  • Stairs can be difficult to navigate if they are all one colour as it makes the edge of the step difficult to see. Using a contrasting or lighter/darker shade of varnish on wooden staircases highlights the edge of steps (nosings) where there is a trip hazard.
  • Dim light can also make pathways and steps hazardous. Attaching LED lighting strips to the underside of a handrail is a simple yet effective solution that lights the way without expensive additional fixtures.    

The modules give brokers the tools to start meaningful conversations with clients by sharing solutions to common issues faced in the heritage sector.

Huw Andrews, Principal Risk Management consultant at Ecclesiastical, said: “Brokers play an important role in helping clients understand the risks they are facing and in ensuring that the right cover is in place for their clients. We hope these modules will aid conversations between brokers and their clients about how they can manage risks in heritage properties in a sensible way.”


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