The Ultimate Guide to Preventing Slips, Trips, and Falls

watch your step floor sticker

Slips, trips, and falls are some of the most common accidents that can happen in any setting. Whether you're at work, at home, or out in public, these accidents can occur in an instant, leading to serious injuries and even death. Fortunately, most of these accidents are preventable with a little bit of awareness and some simple precautions. In this guide, we'll take a look at the common causes of slips, trips, and falls, and provide you with practical tips to help you stay safe.

Understanding the Causes of Slips, Trips, and Falls

To avoid slips, trips, and falls, it's important to first understand the causes of these accidents. Slip hazards can be caused by wet or oily surfaces, spills, loose rugs or mats, loose floorboards or tiles, and weather hazards. Trip hazards can be caused by uneven or cluttered surfaces, poor lighting, loose carpeting or flooring, obstructed views, and changes in elevation. Fall hazards can be caused by a lack of fall protection, working at heights, unprotected edges and openings, ladders and stairs, and slippery or uneven surfaces.

Causes of Slips

slippery when wet floor stickerSlips are a common cause of accidents in the workplace and can result in serious injuries. The causes of slips include:

  • Wet or Oily Surfaces: Wet or oily surfaces can be caused by spills, leaks, or even condensation. These surfaces can become extremely slippery and pose a significant risk for slips. It's important to address any spills or leaks promptly and to use caution when walking on wet or oily surfaces.

  • Spills: Spills are a common cause of slips and can be caused by a variety of sources, such as food, drinks, or chemicals. It's important to clean up spills as soon as possible to prevent slips.

  • Loose or Unanchored Rugs or Mats: Loose or unanchored rugs or mats can cause slips if they shift or move underfoot. Make sure to secure mats and rugs properly to prevent them from slipping or moving.

  • Loose Floorboards or Tiles: Loose floorboards or tiles can also be a cause of slips. These hazards can be difficult to detect, so it's important to conduct regular inspections of flooring and to make repairs as needed.

  • Weather Hazards: Weather hazards such as rain, snow, and ice can also contribute to slips. Make sure to take appropriate precautions during inclement weather, such as using salt or sand to provide traction on slippery surfaces.

Causes of Trips

keep area clear floor sticker

Trips are another common cause of workplace accidents and can lead to serious injuries. The causes of trips include:

  • Uneven or Cluttered Surfaces: Uneven or cluttered surfaces, such as cords or debris on the ground, can cause trips. Make sure to keep walkways clear and to remove any clutter or obstacles that could pose a risk.

  • Poor Lighting: Poor lighting can make it difficult to see obstacles or hazards on the ground and can contribute to trips. Make sure to provide adequate lighting in all areas of the workplace.

  • Loose Carpeting or Flooring: Loose carpeting or flooring can create tripping hazards if it's not properly secured. Make sure to repair or replace any loose carpeting or flooring as soon as possible.

  • Obstructed View: An obstructed view can make it difficult to see obstacles on the ground and can contribute to trips. Make sure to keep aisles and walkways clear and to avoid blocking views with equipment or other obstacles.

  • Changes in Elevation: Changes in elevation, such as steps or uneven flooring, can also cause trips. Make sure to mark changes in elevation with warning signs and to provide handrails or other support as needed.

Causes of Falls

safety shoes required aluminum wall sign

Falls are one of the most common types of workplace accidents and can result in serious injuries or even fatalities. The causes of falls include:

  • Lack of Fall Protection: A lack of fall protection, such as guardrails or safety harnesses, can be a major contributor to falls. Make sure to provide appropriate fall protection equipment and to train employees on its proper use.

  • Working at Heights: Working at heights, such as on roofs or scaffolding, can be a major risk factor for falls. Make sure to provide appropriate fall protection equipment and to ensure that employees are properly trained and supervised.

  • Unprotected Edges and Openings: Unprotected edges and openings, such as uncovered pits or open roof hatches, can also be a cause of falls. Make sure to provide appropriate guarding or covering for all edges and openings.

  • Ladders and Stairs: Ladders and stairs can be a major cause of falls if they're not used properly. Make sure to provide appropriate training on ladder and stair safety and to inspect and maintain all ladders and stairs regularly.

  • Slippery or Uneven Surfaces: Slippery or uneven surfaces can contribute to falls, particularly when working outdoors in wet or icy conditions. Make sure to use appropriate footwear with slip-resistant soles and to keep walkways and work areas clear of obstacles and debris.

Preventing Slips, Trips, and Falls

General Tips

Here are 6 tips to help prevent slips, trips, and falls in the workplace:

  1. Wear appropriate footwear with slip-resistant soles: Proper footwear is crucial in preventing falls, especially when working in areas with slippery or uneven surfaces. Slip-resistant footwear with good traction can help prevent slips and falls. Make sure that employees wear appropriate footwear for the type of work they are doing, and replace worn-out shoes or boots as needed.

  2. Keep walkways clear of clutter: Cluttered walkways can be a tripping hazard, so it's important to keep them clear. Make sure that all equipment, tools, and materials are stored properly and not left in walkways or other high traffic areas.

  3. Properly store equipment and materials: Proper storage of equipment and materials is essential to prevent falls. Make sure that all equipment and materials are stored in designated areas and are properly secured to prevent them from falling or tipping over.

  4. Maintain adequate lighting: Poor lighting can make it difficult to see potential tripping hazards. Make sure that all work areas are well-lit, and replace any burnt out or dim light bulbs as needed. It's also important to provide lighting in areas that may not have natural light, such as stairwells and hallways.

  5. Reduce Wet or Slippery Surfaces: When surfaces are wet or slippery, people are at a higher risk of losing their footing, falling, and injuring themselves. One way to reduce wet or slippery surfaces is to clean up spills promptly. Any spills or leaks should be cleaned up immediately to prevent wet or slippery surfaces from forming. This could involve using absorbent materials such as towels or mop heads to soak up liquids quickly and effectively. On the other hand, keeping outdoor areas clean and dry is important in preventing slips and falls. Outdoor areas can be particularly hazardous in wet or icy conditions, so it's important to keep them clean and dry. This may involve shoveling snow or applying salt to icy areas.

  6. Keep Employees Reminded of Safety Protocols: Adhering to safety guidelines is critical because it helps to identify potential hazards and mitigate risks before they become accidents. It also demonstrates a commitment to safety culture and encourages a proactive approach to safety. Even a small mistake or a single shortcut can have devastating consequences, leading to severe injuries or even fatalities. When personnel ignore safety guidelines, they are not only putting themselves at risk but also their colleagues and visitors.

Additional preventative measures include:

Preventing Slips

  • Clean up spills immediately
  • Use caution when walking on wet or oily surfaces
  • Use slip-resistant floor treatments
  • Use slip-resistant mats in high-risk areas

Preventing Trips

  • Repair uneven flooring
  • Use contrasting colors to identify changes in elevation
  • Secure rugs and mats with non-slip backing

Preventing Falls

  • Use fall protection equipment when working at heights
  • Ensure adequate guardrails on elevated surfaces
  • Keep ladders and stairs in good condition
  • Use caution when walking on slippery or uneven surfaces
  • Be mindful of unprotected edges and openings

What to do in case of slip, trip, or fall?

If anyone slips, trips, or falls while working, there are a few key steps that should be taken to ensure their safety and wellbeing:

  1. Assess the situation: The first step is to assess the situation and make sure that the employee is not in immediate danger. If they are injured, seek medical attention immediately.

  2. Report the incident: The incident should be reported to the appropriate person or department, such as a supervisor or safety manager. This will ensure that the incident is properly documented and investigated.

  3. Investigate the cause: Once the incident has been reported, an investigation should be conducted to determine the cause of the slip, trip, or fall. This will help identify any hazards or unsafe conditions that need to be addressed to prevent future incidents.

  4. Implement corrective actions: Based on the investigation, corrective actions should be implemented to address the underlying cause of the incident. For example, if the incident was caused by a slippery surface, non-slip mats or floor coatings may be installed.

  5. Provide training: Employees should be trained on how to identify and avoid slip, trip, and fall hazards, as well as how to respond if an incident does occur.

  6. Follow up: Finally, it's important to follow up with the employee to ensure that they have received any necessary medical treatment and are able to return to work safely.

Slips, trips, and falls are preventable accidents that can have serious consequences. By taking some simple precautions and being aware of potential hazards, you can help protect yourself and others from these types of accidents. Remember to always wear appropriate footwear, keep walkways clear, and use caution when walking. With a little bit of awareness and some preventative measures, you can help keep yourself and those around you safe.

The material provided in this article is for general information purposes only. It is not intended to replace professional/legal advice or substitute government regulations, industry standards, or other requirements specific to any business/activity. While we made sure to provide accurate and reliable information, we make no representation that the details or sources are up-to-date, complete or remain available. Readers should consult with an industrial safety expert, qualified professional, or attorney for any specific concerns and questions.


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Author: Herbert Post

Born in the Philadelphia area and raised in Houston by a family who was predominately employed in heavy manufacturing. Herb took a liking to factory processes and later safety compliance where he has spent the last 13 years facilitating best practices and teaching updated regulations. He is married with two children and a St Bernard named Jose. Herb is a self-described compliance geek. When he isn’t studying safety reports and regulatory interpretations he enjoys racquetball and watching his favorite football team, the Dallas Cowboys.