Slips and trips are the most common cause of injury at work. On average, they cause 40 per cent of all reported major injuries and can also lead to other types of serious accidents, for example falls from height. Slips and trips are also the most reported injury to members of the public.

This leaflet describes measures that may need to be implement to help prevent slips and trips. The solutions are often simple and low-cost.

It is a basic requirement of the International Labour Organisation to provide and maintain workplaces, equipment, devices and systems so that they remain safe. Consistent implementation of good housekeeping is an essential element of providing a safe place of work. Floors and traffic routes need to be well constructed and free from hazards that might cause slips, trips and falls.


Poor housekeeping can frequently contribute to accidents by hiding hazards that cause injuries. If the sight of paper, debris, clutter and spills is accepted as normal, then other more serious health and safety hazards may be taken for granted.


  • Reduced handling to ease the flow of materials.
  • Fewer tripping and slipping accidents in clutter-free and spill-free work areas.
  • Decreased fire hazards.
  • Lower worker exposures to hazardous substances.
  • Better control of tools and materials.
  • More efficient equipment clean-up and maintenance.
  • Better hygienic conditions, leading to improved health.
  • More effective use of space.
  • Reduced property damage by improving preventative maintenance.
  • Less work for cleaning staff.
  • Improved morale.


A good housekeeping programme plans and manages the orderly storage and movement of materials from point of entry to exit. It includes a material flow plan to ensure minimal handling. The plan also ensures that work areas are not used as storage areas by having workers move materials to and from work areas as needed. Part of the plan could include investing in extra bins and more frequent disposal.

The costs of this investment could be offset by the elimination of repeated handling of the same material, and more effective use of the workers’ time. Often, ineffective or insufficient storage planning results in materials being handled and stored in hazardous ways. Knowing the plant layout and the movement of materials throughout the workplace can help plan work procedures.


Worker training is an essential part of any good housekeeping program.

The final addition to any housekeeping programme is inspection.

Smoking, eating or drinking in the work area should be prohibited where toxic materials are handled. The eating area should be separate from the work area and should be cleaned properly at the end of each shift. Stored materials should not obstruct walkways, stairs, exits, fire equipment, emergency eyewash fountains, emergency showers, or first aid stations.

All storage areas should be clearly marked. Flammable, combustible, toxic and other hazardous materials should be stored in approved containers in designated areas that are appropriate for the different hazards that they pose.


The surfaces of floors and traffic routes should be free from any hole, slope or uneven or slippery surface which is likely to:

  • Cause a person to slip, trip or fall.
  • Cause a person to drop or lose control of anything being lifted or carried; or
  • Cause instability or loss of control of vehicles and/or their loads.

A slip-resistant coating should be applied where necessary. Every open side of a staircase should be securely fenced. As a minimum the fencing should consist of an upper rail at 900mm or higher, and a lower rail.


There is contamination involved in almost all slip accidents. It can be introduced by the work activity or in fact by the cleaning activity itself.


Choosing the right cleaning method:

  • Detergent: Is essential if there is any greasy or oily contamination on the floor. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, because too strong a solution can be as ineffective as too weak.
  • Spot Cleaning: Using a paper towel or rag to remove small areas of water-based contamination from the floor. This is a cheap and effective method of removing water-based spills.
  • Mopping: Is usually only effective on smoother floors because it only skims the surface of the floor, regardless of the effort used.
  • Hose/Power Washer: With sufficient power can be used to remove dusty or doughy contaminants. Suitable drainage will be required.
  • Squeegee: Can be effective in removing excess water after cleaning, to reduce drying time.
  • Wet Vacuum Cleaner: Effective at cleaning up liquid spills. This is more effective on smooth floors which can be left completely dry.
  • Dry Vacuum Cleaner: Effective at cleaning up dry/dusty contaminants. If the dust creates a health risk, make sure the filter is suitable.
  • Scrubber-Drier Machines: Can be an effective way to clean most kinds of flooring.


A suitable system of maintenance will ensure that:

  • Maintenance is carried out regularly (including inspection, testing, adjustment, lubrication and cleaning).
  • Any potentially dangerous defects are remedied and access to defective equipment is prevented in the mean time.
  • A suitable record is kept to ensure the system is properly implemented.


Dangerous situations, accident or a near miss need to be reported and used to prevent future accidents.

  • If you see a spillage, clean it up or make arrangements for it to be cleaned.
  • Report any damaged floors or mats.
  • Play your part and keep the workplace tidy.
  • If you see items on the floor where someone could trip over them, remove them or arrange for them to be removed or for the situation to be made safe.
  • If you are given PPE, wear it and look after it. Report any faults or damage and make arrangements for a replacement.