Slips and trips


Slips and trips

Slips, trips and falls are the most common cause of accidents in the workplace.

In 2008-09 estimates suggest the cost to society was around £800 million.

The main causes of slips, trips and falls include:

  • Wet, slippery or inappropriate floor surfaces
  • Damaged floor surfaces, including stairs
  • Unmarked changes in height
  • Obstructions
  • Trailing cables or wires
  • Worn carpet, rugs and mates, chipped tiles
  • Poor lighting
  • Standing on shelves to reach the top shelf
  • Standing on chairs to reach high shelves
  • Poor behaviour, such as running, carrying too much and obscuring view ahead
  • Wearing inappropriate footwear
  • Ignoring safety warnings, such as wet floor signs, and not cleaning up spillages
  • Poor maintenance or cleaning
  • Icy surfaces outside in winter, such as car parks and walkways

The Workplace (Health, Safety and welfare) Regulations 1992 set legal standards for floors, stairs, and pedestrian traffic routes to reduce the risk of slips, trips and falls. These include:

  • Keeping floors in good condition and repair
  • Keeping floors free form obstruction
  • Highlighting any changes in level
  • Avoiding trailing cables by hiding, rerouting or moving equipment
  • Preventing leaks and spillages through effective maintenance, storage and management
  • Clearing up spillages as soon as they occur
  • Using warning notices
  • Having sufficient lighting
  • Training and supervising staff to ensure they understand the risks to themselves and others, wear the appropriate shoes and protective equipment
  • Making staff responsible, for clearing up spillages, for example
  • Maintenance of car parks and traffic routes outside

Like all health and safety, it starts with risk assessment, often guided by accident records that can show whether particular areas or activities have more incidents than others. Consultation with staff will also help.

Having carried out the assessment, the workplace should then be regularly checked to ensure all control measures are adequate and being implemented. Regular review will help to keep assessments up to date and fit for purpose.

Managers, supervisors and staff will also need proper instruction and training to promote greater safety and reduce risks.

Certain work activities pose a greater risk of slips, trips and falls, such as catering, and activities where floors can become wet.

For more information, case studies and tools to help assess your workplace for slips, trips and falls, please visit HSE Slips and Trips.

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