Slips, trips and falls

  • You don’t have to be high off the ground for a fall to cause significant injury or death. Falls can occur in many different ways including through slips and trips, or falls from height, at level, or into holes or voids.

Each year slips, trips and falls cause injuries and fatalities in the construction industry, such as when:

  • Working from height
  • There is insufficient lighting
  • Being hit by falling objects
  • Ground surface, floors or other building surface are slippery, uneven or cluttered with building materials, power tools or equipment.

Slips occur when a person’s foot loses traction with the ground surface.

Trips occur when a person unexpectedly catches their foot on an object or surface.

Falls can result from a slip or trip but many also occur during falls from low heights such as on steps, stairs and curbs, into a hole or a ditch.

Consulting with workers can help you find better and easier ways to identify and minimise risks. You should also review control measures to ensure they are working as planned.  

Note: If high risk construction work is being carried out that involves a risk of a person falling more than two metres, a safe work method statement (SWMS) needs to be prepared. For more information on safe work method statements, please click here. Alternatively, you can also use the interactive SWMS tool to learn how to complete a SWMS. 


PCBU duties


Worker duties

You must eliminate the risk of slips, trips and falls so far as is reasonably practicable. If that is not possible, you must minimise risks so far as is reasonably practicable.

You must also consult workers, any health and safety representatives about WHS.

You must consult, cooperate and coordinate with other duty holders.

Your PCBU has a duty to keep you and your workplace safe from risks associated slips, trips and falls.

You also have a duty to take reasonable care of your own health and safety and that of others in the workplace including ensuring your acts and omissions don’t adversely affect others health and safety.

Comply with any reasonable instructions, policies and procedure given by your PCBU at the workplace, so far as is reasonably able to.

Risk management

Identify and assess hazards 

You must identify and assess the workplace for any slip, trip and falls hazards. Think about work areas, work procedures, tools and equipment.

Control measures

If you can’t eliminate the risks from slips, trips and falls, you must minimise them as much as possible, including by: 

  • Ensuring all areas are well lit.
  • Having good drainage and slip resistant grates. 
  • Positioning yard and gates to avoid having to move through muddy areas.
  • Installing extra power points to avoid trip hazards from trailing cords. 
  • Having clear procedures for workers to return equipment, tools and other items to their storage areas after use.
  • Having clear procedures for workers to report and clean spills.
  • Providing training to workers to become more aware of slip and trip hazards. 
  • Wearing slip-resistant footwear.

Review control measures

The last step of the risk management process is to review the effectiveness of the implemented control measures to check they are working as planned. If a control measure is not working well, it must be changed or replaced.

See Part 3.1 of the Model WHS Regulations for more information on risk management.

For more information

Model Codes of Practice

Other resources

  • Did you know

    The WHS regulator in your state or territory can provide practical advice, resources and tools to help you be safe when working in construction. They can also let you know which WHS laws apply to you.