Slips and trips

Last updated: 19 Dec 2023

This article explains how slips and trips can be a hazard in any workplace and what you and your employer can do to minimise the risk of an accident.

Slips and trips in the workplace

Falls caused by slipping or tripping are one of the most common workplace accidents, and are among the highest causes of serious injury.

Slips and trips cause an average of two workplace deaths each year. This is despite slip and trip hazards often being easy to address.


How your employer can prevent slips and trips

Your employer needs to think about the things in the workplace that could cause people to slip or trip, and decide whether they are doing enough to prevent them. If they’re not, they need to take action. Often, this will be very easy, and may just involve tidying away boxes and cables, or making sure that spills are quickly cleaned up.

The easiest way for an employer to start addressing the things that cause people to slip or trip is to walk around the workplace and spot hazards. The HSE has a slips and trips hazard spotting checklist to help with this. Most slips and trips are caused by:

  • poor lighting
  • trailing cables
  • unsuitable floor coverings
  • uneven or damaged floor surfaces
  • poor housekeeping, for example tripping or falling over something left in a walkway.

Slips, on the other hand, can be caused by a number of issues, often in combination. Your employer should think about factors like:

  • people’s footwear
  • contamination of the floor (such as leaks or spills of liquid)
  • the type and condition of flooring.


What the law say about slips and trips

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires employers to ensure the health and safety of all employees and anyone affected by their work, so far as is reasonably practicable.

Visit our page on Health and Safety Law [LINK TO H&S LAW PAGE].

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require employers to assess risks (including slip and trip risks) and, where necessary, take action to address remove or control them.

In addition, the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 require employers to ensure that floors are suitable (i.e. not too slippery), in good condition and free from obstructions, enabling people to move around safely.


How you can help prevent slips and trips

  • If you have an accident or a near miss, or notice something that is unsafe, such as damaged flooring or inadequate lighting, report it to your employer. They should use this information to tackle the problem.
  • If you think of ways of preventing contamination, such as water or rubbish, from getting onto the floor, suggest them to your employer.
  • Ask your employer to mark slopes and changes of levels.
  • If you see a spillage, clean it up or arrange for it to be cleaned.
  • If you see items on the floor where someone could trip over them, remove them or arrange for them to be removed.
  • Help keep the workplace tidy.
  • If you are given PPE, wear it and look after it. Report any faults or damage to your employer.