Slips, Trips and Falls
Slips and trips are a common cause of injury at work, and water, ice and wet leaves in winter increase the risks even further or when floor surfaces are contaminated (e.g. with water, grease, talc, etc.). The injuries caused by trips, slips and falls not only affect the individuals involved, but can also mean losses for your business through customer claims, employee absence and bad publicity. Here’s what you can do:
1. Assess the Risk • Specifying an appropriate type of flooring for the environment, usage and footfall • Implementing an effective cleaning regime and inspection system
• Having procedures for attending to spillages and contamination
• Implementing procedures for inclement weather
• Using doormats to stop rain water being tracked-in and making the floor slippery
Remember to highlight areas where further action is necessary. The risk assessment process might include a ‘heat map’; plotting all slips, trips and falls incidents by location to identify areas of highest footfall and high risk areas.
Some key hazards to consider:
• Uneven steps, or steps which are not uniform in dimension
• Poor lighting
• Changes in level
• Unsuitable flooring
• Inappropriate footwear
• Trailing pipes and cables
• Damaged floor surfaces, both internal and external
• Poor housekeeping
• Vulnerable users
Remember to review what you are doing on an on-going basis.
2. Prevent Slips and Trips Accidents
Stop Floors Becoming Contaminated
- Use entrance matting
- Fix leaks from machinery or buildings
- Make sure plant and equipment are maintained
- Design tasks to minimise spillages
- Plan pedestrian and vehicle routes to avoid contaminated areas
Use the Correct Cleaning Methods
- Make sure that your cleaning method is effective for the type of floor you have
- Do not introduce more slip or trip risks while cleaning is being undertaken
- Leave smooth floors dry after cleaning or exclude pedestrians until the floor is dry
- Remove spillages promptly
- Have effective arrangements for both routine cleaning and dealing with spills
- Use the appropriate detergent mixed at the correct concentration
Consider the Flooring and Work Environment
- Check for loose, damaged and worn flooring and replace as needed.
- Floors likely to get wet or have spillages on them should be of a type that does not become unduly slippery.
- Make sure lighting is sufficient and that slopes or steps are clearly visible.
- Keep walkways and work areas clear of obstructions.
- Use the Correct Footwear
- Where floors cannot be kept clean and dry, slip-resistant footwear can help prevent slip accidents.
- Trial footwear first to make sure it is suitable for the environment and for those who will be wearing it, i.e. comfort and fit
- If footwear is supplied as personal protective equipment (PPE), it must be supplied free of charge to employees.
3. Ensure Good Housekeeping
The HSE estimates that 50% of all trip hazards result from poor housekeeping. Good housekeeping is the
most important method of preventing slips, trips and falls. Examples of good housekeeping include:
• Cleaning all spills immediately
• Marking spills and wet areas with appropriate signage
• Mopping spillages or sweeping debris from floors
• Removing obstacles from walkways and always keeping them free of clutter
• Covering cables that cross walkways
• Keeping walkways well lit
• Promptly replacing broken/defective light bulbs and faulty switches
Without good housekeeping practices, any other preventive measures such as installation of sophisticated
flooring, specialty footwear or even training on techniques of walking and safe falling will never be fully
4. Keep Records
The keeping of records, of the specification of flooring, the risk assessment, flooring inspections and
maintenance, and perhaps most importantly of cleaning procedures may prove decisive in defending
• New Surfaces: ensure that new flooring surfaces are free from tripping and slipping hazards
• Housekeeping: implement a housekeeping programme
• Inspections: conduct routine inspections to ensure surfaces are free from hazards
• Maintenance: ensure that routine maintenance is carried out to remedy defects
• Spills: ensure that spills are identified/reported and cleaned up immediately