Slip, trip and fall accidents during the delivery of mail : risk factors and interventions
This thesis considers the problem of slip, trip and fall accidents (STFA) occurring during the delivery of mail. Its aims are to identify key risk factors and effective countermeasures. 'Falls outdoor' are the largest cause of accident and lost time within the delivery function of the Royal Mail, making up approximately 28 % of accidents at work. The Royal Mail also has a poor safety record compared to other organisations for this type of accident. The research project comprised five studies. The first four studies examined the role of individual, task-related and environmental (physical and organisational) factors in delivery STFA risk. The final study considered the selection, design and implementation of a programme of intervention to impact on key risk factors identified in earlier research. The entire project was undertaken within the Midlands Division of the Royal Mail. The first study involved analysis of in-house accident data relating to 1734 delivery STFA cases reported during a two year period, and a sample of 237 accident reports. Nearly two-thirds of delivery STFA occurred while the employee was walking on the level, and 19 % while ascending or descending steps. Over 50 % of falls resulted from slips, with ice, snow and wet underfoot surfaces the main hazards. Accident-independent investigations undertaken in the second study involved a series of focus groups with PDO, interviews with senior management and safety personnel, and a 'short questionnaire' survey of PDO and delivery office managers. In all cases, respondents were asked to provide information regarding factors they believed increased the risk of delivery STFA. This research was exploratory in nature, and identified a range of possible behavioural, task-related and management risk factors. The third study involved detailed interviews with 40 STFA-involved PDO. The main purpose of the study was to consider the role of risk factors identified in accident-independent research. Interviews took place at the site of the accident. 'Avoidable' environmental hazards, such as damaged paving and inadequate lighting, were involved in 38 % of delivery STFA. The fourth study investigated the use of safety practices relevant to delivery STFA by Delivery Office Managers (DOM). Telephone interviews with managers of 20 'matched' high and low accident-incidence rate offices were undertaken to investigate DOMs' use of 'desirable' safety practices. The final study was concerned with the selection, design and implementation of a programme of intervention. Intervention measures were research-led; designed to reduce the impact of key risk factors identified in previous project research Recommended intervention measures targeted STFA risks at three levels: slip resistance (superior occupational footwear and footwear attachments), exposure to hazardous conditions (e. g. adverse weather practice, hazard reporting and feedback form) and employee behaviour in the face of hazardous conditions (e. g. training workshops and behaviour modification techniques). The use of a participative approach to intervention selection and design allowed safety measures to be placed successfully within the organisational context of the Royal Mail.