A Top Tips guide to reducing accidents due to slips, trips and falls

23 July, 2013
Pat Perry

"Slips and trips are the most common cause of major injuries at work and can happen almost anywhere and did you know that 95% of major slips result in broken bones?" said Pat Perry, Executive Chairman at leading health and safety consultants, Perry Scott Nash.

Adding: "If you take it back to basics, trips happen when you catch your foot on something you didn't realise was there such as leads and cables, broken or uneven flooring, loose carpet or obstacles like cleaning equipment. Slips usually happen on wet or greasy floors. As an employer and business owner, you must manage and control hazards in your workplaces and other premises, assessing the likelihood of slips, trips and falls and implement control measures to reduce the occurrence and potential for injuries. There are lots of points to consider, and so we have compiled our top tips to help you lower the risks of accidents at your business."

Here we look at a few causes of slips, trips and falls and provide some advice:

Dealing with food or liquid spillages?

Food/liquid spillages are one of the main causes of slips, you need to be vigilant and clean up any spilt substance that could cause a hazard immediately. If a liquid is greasy, make sure a suitable cleaning agent is used and clean the area in accordance with the guidance in the Health and Safety Book and COSHH risk assessments. After cleaning, make sure the floor is not excessively wet, by dry mopping it. Use appropriate barriers/signage to tell people the floor is still wet and arrange alternative bypass routes. Another top tip to implement relates to cleaning of your venue - if cleaning is done once a day, this should be done last thing at night, so it is dry for the start of the next day.

What about risks in wet weather?

The risk of slips and falls is increased during wet or icy/cold weather as customers may introduce additional water on to the premises floors via their shoes or dripping umbrellas. During wet weather, Duty Managers must ensure they put in place additional control measures such as extra wet weather mats and umbrella stands to ensure this risk is managed. The Wet Weather Checklist should be completed by Duty Managers to ensure they have adequate control measures in place. These checklists must be kept as evidence of additional checks.

You should have a good idea whether your floor surfaces become increasingly more slippery the wetter they become. Review what happens when it rains and whether people tend to slip or slide when they come into your premises.

Putting out suitable mats will help contain water to the entrance of the building and prevent people walking water further than they need to, but make sure they do not create trip hazards.

How do I stop slip accidents happening in icy conditions?

To reduce the risk of slips on ice, frost or snow, you need to assess the risk and put in a system to manage it.

  1. Identify the outdoor areas used by pedestrians most likely to be affected by ice, for example: building entrances, car parks, pedestrian walkways, shortcuts, sloped areas and areas constantly in the shade or wet.
  2. Monitor the temperature, as prevention is key
  • You need to take action whenever freezing temperatures are forecast. Keep up to date by visiting a weather service site. There are also smart signs on the market, available to buy at low cost and will display warning messages at 5°C and below.
  1. Put a procedure in place to prevent an icy surface forming and/or keep pedestrians off the slippery surface
  • Use grit (see below for more detail) or similar, on areas prone to be slippery in frosty, icy conditions.
  • Consider covering walkways
  • Divert pedestrians to less slippery walkways and barrier off existing ones.
  1. If warning cones are used, remember to remove them once the hazard has passed or they will eventually be ignored.

Your premises has a dance floor - what extra precautions should you take?

Dance floors bring additional risks in terms of health and safety, which must be assessed and controlled to prevent, as far as reasonably practicable, any injuries occurring to either customers or employees.

Dancing itself can present dangers to both those partaking and to other customers on the premises. Dancing should therefore be limited to the designated area of the premises i.e. the dance floor, which should be clearly defined.

Staff should remain vigilant in monitoring the numbers of people on the dance floor and ensure that the area does not become overcrowded. The use of door control personnel to control the numbers of people entering the premises should also be considered, possibly controlling the distribution of customers throughout the different areas of the premises (to ensure there are not high concentrations in any one area).

Customers should also not be allowed to take drinks on to the dance floor and staff must remain vigilant to enforce this, and also to identify (and to deal with promptly) any spillages or bottles and glasses found on the floor.

It is a good idea to ask the manufacturer of the floor covering for its "slip resistance rating (SRV)" for both wet and dry conditions. This may be needed if any legal action is taken by either your customer or the local authority.


  • Always sort a spillage immediately, don't ignore it or leave it for someone else. That means effective floor cleaning and NOT just putting out the wet floor sign!
  • Mop floors during quiet periods when there are less people likely to walk on the floor.
  • Do not run on stairs.
  • Always follow the cleaning guidance in your Health and Safety Policy and COSHH risk assessments
  • Follow the sensible shoe policy.
  • Don't ignore the weather - adjust your risk assessment accordingly.

For more information on this or other matters relating to health and safety in the workplace Contact Us.


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