Slips and trips

Slips and trips are a major cause of injury to employees and members of the public. The resulting injuries can be quite severe, with many causing absence from work or even long term disability.

What are the main causes of slip and trip accidents?

  • Spillages that have not been cleaned up properly or quickly enough.
  • Badly designed floors or surfaces in poor condition.
  • Items left on the floor or in walkways. General untidiness.
  • Changes in level, such as slopes or steps up or down.

How can they be prevented?

  • Spillages should be cleared up quickly, and floors left dry rather than wet after cleaning.
  • "Good housekeeping" (workplace tidiness) will help to keep trip hazards to a minimum.
  • Poorly designed floor surfaces or those in bad condition may need repair or even replacement.
  • Changes in level (that cannot be altered) may need highlighting with floor markings and/or signs.

Isn't it OK just to put up a "slippery floor" sign, which will cover any occasion when the floor gets wet?

No, a sign should be your "last resort"! You must try to reduce the risk in other ways before placing a sign. Remember that a permanent sign can become like wallpaper - part of the background and never noticed.

Surely it is a person's own fault if they slip or trip?

Sometimes it can be, but usually with slips and trips there is a slippery area, a rough patch or pot-hole or even just a bad design - maybe a slope immediately after a doorway. Business owners have a legal responsibility to try to make their premises as safe as possible for staff and visitors. More information on your legal duties can be obtained from the Food, Health and Safety team.

What help is available if I have a problem with slips and trips in my business?

Advice is available from the Food, Health and Safety Team on prevention of slips and trips - the solution could be as simple as changing the frequency or type of floor cleaning. A special measurement tool and computer programme can be used by the officers to determine how slippery a surface is, and how bad it would become if water or grease for example was present.

Go to slips and trip on the HSE website for more details of slips and trips in the workplace, advice and guidance for employers, workers, architects and designers to comply with health and safety law.

Last updated: Monday, 25 April, 2022.