Slips, trips and falls

Each year slips, trips and falls cause thousands of preventable injuries. The most common ones are: 

  • musculoskeletal injuries (injuries to muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, cartilage and spinal discs) 

  • cuts 

  • bruises 

  • fractures 

  • dislocations. 

More serious injuries and deaths can also happen. 

Slip, trip and fall hazards 

Some things that can cause you to slip are: 

  • the wrong footwear 

  • polished, wet or greasy floors. 

In most cases, people trip on low obstacles that are hard to spot, such as: 

  • uneven edges in flooring 

  • loose mats 

  • open drawers 

  • untidy tools, or 

  • electrical cables. 

Falls can result from a slip or trip, but many occur from low heights. For example: 

  • steps 

  • stairs 

  • kerbs, 

  • holes 

  • ditches, or 

  • wet or slippery surfaces. 

WHS duties  

As a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), you must always aim to 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 identify hazards, and assess and control risks. Think about your: 

  • work areas 

  • work procedures 

  • tools 

  • equipment.  

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.  

Workers also have duties, including taking reasonable care for their own health and safety. 

Managing risks  

The best way to manage the risk of slips, trips and falls is to eliminate hazards at the design stage of the workplace.  

If you can’t eliminate the risk, you must minimise it so far as is reasonably practicable. 

Designing safe workplaces 

In designing floors, stairs, lighting, drainage and storage: 

  • keep floors at a single level and use slip-resistant floor coverings 

  • install extra power points to avoid trip hazards from trailing cords 

  • ensure all areas are well lit, particularly stairwells 

  • have good drainage and slip resistant grates 

  • have lots of storage, so things aren’t left in walkways. 

Safe work procedures 

Work procedures can also impact on the incidence of slips, trips and falls. Have clear procedures to: 

  • remove rubbish to avoid trip hazards 

  • return tools and other items to their storage areas after use 

  • report and clean spills 

Keep the workplace clean 

All workers share responsibility for keeping the workplace clean and tidy.  

Make sure you: 

  • have adequate rubbish and recycling bins 

  • have cleaning schedules in place 

  • dry floors after cleaning 

  • don’t have cords on walkway or work area floors. 

Training  

Training helps workers become more aware of slip and trip hazards and helps to prevent injuries.  

Training should include:  

  • awareness of slip and trip hazards 

  • identifying effective control measures 

  • duties of workers. 

Using personal protective equipment (PPE) 

As a PCBU, you should only use PPE: 

  • after you have implemented all other possible control measures. 

  • as an interim measure until you can use a better control measure 

  • as a backup in addition to other control measures. 

Slip-resistant footwear 

Slip-resistant footwear is a type of PPE. 

Slip-resistant footwear should be appropriate for the work and workers must wear it properly. 

In wet conditions, the shoe sole tread should: 

  • be deep enough to help penetrate the surface water 

  • make direct contact with the floor. 

In dry conditions, the shoe sole tread: 

  • pattern should be a flat bottom construction 

  • should grip the floor with maximum contact area. 

Types of slip-resistant footwear 

Urethane and rubber soles are more slip resistant than vinyl and leather soles.  

Sole materials that have tiny cell like features are slip resistant. 

Supporting information