- Skip to main content
- Skip to site information
Scheduled maintenance - Thursday, July 12 at 5:00 PM EDT
We expect this update to take about an hour. Access to this website will be unavailable during this time.
Prevention of Slips, Trips and Falls
On this page, how do falls happen, how to prevent falls due to slips and trips, what can you do to avoid falling at work.
Statistics show that the majority (67%) of falls happen on the same level resulting from slips and trips. The remaining 30% are falls from a height. This document will summarize information on "falls on the same level" (slips and trips). Falls from an elevation, such as falls from ladders, roofs, down stairs or from jumping to a lower level, etc., is discussed in other documents since each type of fall must be assessed as part of a fall prevention program .
Slips happen where there is too little friction or traction between the footwear and the walking surface. Common causes of slips are:
- wet or oily surfaces
- occasional spills
- weather hazards
- loose, unanchored rugs or mats
- flooring or other walking surfaces that do not have the same degree of traction in all areas
Trips happen when your foot collides (strikes, hits) an object causing you to lose balance and, eventually fall. Common causes of tripping are:
- obstructed view
- poor lighting
- clutter in your way
- wrinkled carpeting
- uncovered cables
- bottom drawers not being closed
- uneven (steps, thresholds) walking surfaces
Both slips and trips result from unintended or unexpected change in the contact between the feet and the ground or walking surface. This fact shows that good housekeeping, quality of walking surfaces (flooring), selection of proper footwear, and appropriate pace of walking are critical for preventing fall incidents.
Good housekeeping is the first and the most important (fundamental) level of preventing falls due to slips and trips. It includes:
- cleaning all spills immediately
- marking spills and wet areas
- mopping or sweeping debris from floors
- removing obstacles from walkways and always keeping walkways free of clutter
- securing (tacking, taping, etc.) mats, rugs and carpets that do not lay flat
- always closing file cabinet or storage drawers
- covering cables that cross walkways
- keeping working areas and walkways well lit
- replacing used light bulbs and faulty switches
Without good housekeeping practices, any other preventive measures such as installation of sophisticated flooring, specialty footwear or training on techniques of walking and safe falling will never be fully effective.
For more information about effective housekeeping, visit the OSH Answers document on Workplace Housekeeping - Basic Guide .
Changing or modifying walking surfaces is the next level of preventing slip and trips. Recoating or replacing floors, installing mats, pressure-sensitive abrasive strips or abrasive-filled paint-on coating and metal or synthetic decking can further improve safety and reduce the risk of falling. However, it is critical to remember that high-tech flooring requires good housekeeping as much as any other flooring. In addition, resilient, non-slippery flooring prevents or reduces foot fatigue and contributes to slip-prevention measures.
In workplaces where floors may be oily or wet or where workers spend considerable time outdoors, prevention of fall incidents should focus on selecting proper footwear. Since there is no footwear with anti-slip properties for every condition, consultation with manufacturers is highly recommended.
Properly fitting footwear increases comfort and prevents fatigue which, in turn, improves safety for the employee. For more information on footwear visit the OSH Answers document on Safety Footwear .
You can reduce the risk of slipping on wet flooring by:
- taking your time and paying attention to where you are going
- adjusting your stride to a pace that is suitable for the walking surface and the tasks you are doing
- walking with the feet pointed slightly outward
- making wide turns at corners
You can reduce the risk of tripping by:
- keeping walking areas clear from clutter or obstructions
- keeping flooring in good condition
- always using installed light sources that provide sufficient light for your tasks
- using a flashlight if you enter a dark room where there is no light
- making sure that things you are carrying or pushing do not prevent you from seeing any obstructions, spills, etc.
- Fact sheet last revised: 2023-03-28
- +1 (800) 826-0777
- VIRTUAL TOUR
- Mass Notification
- Threat Intelligence
- Employee Safety Monitoring
- Travel Risk Management
- Emergency Preparedness
- Remote Workforce
- Location and Asset Protection
- Business Continuity
- Why AlertMedia
- Who We Serve
- Customer Spotlights
- Resource Library
- Downloads & Guides
Prevent Workplace Slips, Trips, and Falls—8 Safety Tips
Mopping up a spill or double-checking a guardrail might seem like simple common sense, but slips, trips, and falls are the second most common cause of death at work. These are life-saving procedures. Keep reading for practical tips to prevent workplace accidents.
- Slip, Trip, and Fall Hazards Listed
- Clarifying OSHA Standards
- Prevent Workplace Slips, Trips, and Falls
These are familiar scenarios at home: slipping on a wet floor in the kitchen and tripping over a toy left out by the kids. While annoying, these accidents are typically minor hazards in the home. You might stub your toe, but rarely are there severe consequences.
In the workplace, it’s a different and far more serious story. Slips, trips, and falls account for over 200,000 workplace injuries per year. In 2020, nearly one in five accidents leading to missed work was due to a slip, trip, or fall. They’re also the second-leading cause of workplace fatalities.
As a safety leader, you’re responsible for your company’s duty of care and for providing a safe workplace. This blog post will examine common hazards leading to slips, trips, and falls and the steps you can take to minimize injury risks for your team.
Download Our Workplace Safety Checklist
What are slip, trip, and fall hazards in the workplace.
Accidents involving slips, trips, and falls are often grouped together. While they’re similar, it’s important to understand the distinction since they each have different causes and consequences.
Slips occur when someone’s footwear loses traction with the surface they’re on, causing a loss of balance. Under some circumstances, slipping can lead to a fall.
Trips happen when someone hits their foot or lower leg on an object. As their upper body continues moving forward while their lower body remains stationary, the person may lose their balance in the process.
Falls often result from slips or trips, but they can also happen on their own. For example, a worker on a ladder or scaffolding can lose their balance and fall without slipping or tripping. Falls are also possible on flat surfaces and can still cause serious injuries.
Once you understand the hazards that lead to each type of accident, you can identify and mitigate risks in your workplace. Here are some of the most common causes of workplace slips, trips, and falls:
- Spills of wet or dry substances
- The cleaning process during spill removal
- Employees rushing or not paying attention to workplace conditions, especially while carrying objects
- Slippery floor surfaces such as marble or laminate
- Wet surfaces
- Poor lighting that obscures hazards
- Inappropriate footwear for the environment
- Transitioning between different types of surfaces
- Objects or obstructions in walkways
- Uneven flooring or concrete surfaces
- Cables, cords, and hoses that aren’t properly secured or organized
- Unmarked steps or ramps
- Irregular stairs or stairs without railings
- Carpet, rugs, or mats with wrinkles or lifted edges
- Improperly used or poorly maintained ladders
- Elevated surfaces without guardrails
- Floor and wall openings
- Working in elevated environments without a safety harness
- Ill-fitting or improperly used PPE, such as helmets and safety lines
Are There OSHA Standards Related to Slips, Trips, and Falls?
Despite how common these injuries are, there is no specific OSHA standard on slips, trips, and falls. However, several OSHA rules indirectly address the same hazards.
The most important regulation to be aware of is 29 CFR 1910 Subpart D, which covers walking and working surfaces. OSHA updated the standard in 2017, introducing many upgrades to fall protection system requirements, improved employer-provided inspection guidelines, and a greater emphasis on safety training for employees.
For the construction industry, 29 CFR 1916 contains numerous fall-related regulations. Subpart M specifically addresses fall prevention, but other sections, such as Subpart L (scaffolds) and Subpart E (personal protective and lifesaving equipment), are also relevant. OSHA used 29 CFR 1916 as guidance when revising 29 CFR 1910, so the two guidelines now reflect many of the same OSHA violations .
As with any other workplace hazard or accident, OSHA recordkeeping requirements still apply in the event of a slip, trip, or fall incident. Internally, the reporting process is also an opportunity to review the details of the incident and determine how you can update your workplace safety policy to prevent similar accidents in the future.
How to Prevent Slips, Trips, and Falls in the Workplace
Many hazards that cause slips, trips, and falls are inevitable. However, injuries and accidents are not. To prevent slips, trips, and falls, train your employees to follow a three-step process:
- Recognize the hazard: Identify conditions that could lead to a slip, trip, or fall.
- Evaluate the hazard: Examine the situation and determine what level of risk it presents and who it affects.
- Control the hazard: Avoid the risk by removing the hazard (such as cleaning a spill) or implementing safety equipment and procedures (such as installing handrails on an elevated platform).
Here are eight workplace safety tips to prevent falls, trips, and slips.
1. Teach situational awareness
Since many causes of slips, trips, and falls are foreseeable, situational awareness in the workplace is one of the best preventative measures. Encourage your employees to pay attention to their surroundings and the risks they present:
- Look at walking surfaces for spills, obstacles, or other potential hazards
- Watch for signage that warns of increased hazards
- Be aware of conditions such as weather or time of day that might increase the risk of an accident
- Take shorter and more cautious steps on slippery surfaces
2. Encourage proper footwear
Like any other form of PPE, proper footwear can significantly reduce the risk of accidents. Research has found that slip-resistant shoes can reduce injury claims by 67% in environments with slippery work surfaces.
Employees should regularly inspect their shoes and make sure the soles aren’t worn out, as the lack of tread increases the danger of slipping. Additionally, anyone who works in conditions exposed to winter weather hazards should wear insulated boots. Cold temperatures can decrease muscle function, increasing the risk of slipping, tripping, or falling.
3. Utilize signage
Signage is an effective warning system for many workplace risks, but it can be especially effective in preventing slips, trips, and falls. There are two types of signs you can use to increase occupational safety:
- Temporary: Use warning signs while addressing a new hazard, such as cleaning up a spill, repairing a handrail, or replacing a ripped carpet. While temporary signage can help prevent injuries, you still need to address the actual hazard as quickly as possible.
- Permanent: For unavoidable hazards, such as slippery surfaces, a permanent sign can help warn employees to be careful. Use these sparingly, though, as it’s easy for people to ignore signs they see every day.
4. Keep floors clear and clean
Good housekeeping can help prevent most slips, trips, and falls. The details of keeping walking areas clean will vary widely by work environment, but there are a few common themes to encourage workplace safety:
- Report spills immediately, and warn nearby employees until someone can clean the contaminated surface
- Keep walkways clear of obstacles, loose objects, and anything that someone could trip over
- Place mats at entrances and exits so people can dry their shoes and avoid tracking water or other substances around the workplace
- Install handrails on stairways and elevated walkways
5. Apply non-slip mats and coatings
In some situations, keeping floors from becoming slippery is nearly impossible. Whether it’s liquid splashing or steam condensing, you must focus on mitigating the risk rather than avoiding it altogether.
For smaller or less demanding settings, non-slip mats can help employees maintain traction while walking around. In other cases, treating the floor with a permanent coating can help reduce slipping risks, even in the constant presence of liquids.
6. Ensure proper lighting
To identify slip, trip, and fall hazards, your employees need to be able to see their surroundings. Make sure that all of your work areas have proper lighting, especially in areas that are more prone to unsafe conditions.
While this can be a challenge in outdoor work environments, especially at night, it’s even more critical in those situations. Environmental conditions can lead to increased risks, and employees need to be able to see and avoid them. Adequate lighting should also extend to parking lots and walking areas around your facilities.
7. Develop safety plans
Your company’s safety plans should include specific guidelines for preventing slips, trips, and falls. There are a few key topics to consider when developing these policies:
- The types of surfaces employees work and walk on and whether they present extra risks
- Seasonal or regional conditions that could heighten hazards, such as winter weather threats
- Specific OSHA regulations that apply to your workplace
- Regular inspection plans to ensure your team is maintaining a safe work environment
- Policies to report hazards using your company’s two-way communication platform
- First aid training , so employees are prepared to respond safely should injuries occur
8. Provide Slips, Trips, and Falls Training
Lastly, training your employees to avoid slips, trips, and falls will help keep them safe. Provide specific guidance on the environments they’ll work in and the hazards they’ll face. For example, a slips, trips, and falls safety talk for food service workers should focus on wet floors and walking safely in crowded, fast-paced environments. Conversely, office workers could use extra reminders to watch for stray power cords and keep walkways clear of boxes, files, and other tripping hazards.
Working slips, trips, and falls into your safety topics for meetings is also helpful. Regular safety talks or safety moments are an excellent opportunity to remind your team about seasonal risks or update them on newly installed safety measures.
Don’t Let Your Safety Standards Slip
Slips, trips, and falls are some of the most common workplace injuries. Fortunately, you can usually prevent them with proper planning and safety measures.
By making slip, trip, and fall prevention a part of your company’s safety culture, you can ensure your employees are aware of their surroundings and ready to look out for each other’s safety. Enable them to report hazards easily, address risks quickly, and train them to avoid situations that are likely to cause injury.
With the right planning and prevention, even the most intense work environments can be as safe as a walk in the park.
More Articles You May Be Interested In
Workplace Safety Checklist
Please complete the form below to receive this resource.
Check Your Inbox!
The document you requested has been sent to your provided email address.
Thank you for subscribing!
Cookies are required to play this video.
Click the blue shield icon on the bottom left of your screen to edit your cookie preferences.
Contact | Subscribe | Media centre
- Lifting, pushing and pulling
- Sexual harassment
- Crystalline silica and silicosis
Managing health and safety
- Identify, assess and control hazards
- Safety data sheets
- Personal protective equipment
- Emergency plans and procedures
- Mental health
Industry and business
- Small business
- Gig economy
The Commonwealth, states and territories regulate and enforce WHS laws.
Find your Regulator
Model WHS Laws
We created the model WHS laws in 2011.
- Codes of Practice
- Model WHS Act
- Model WHS Regulations
- History of the model WHS laws
- WHS laws in your jurisdiction
Review of the model Work Health and Safety laws Final Report
read the Review
Data and Research
We collect, analyse and publish data and information on work health and safety and workers' compensation.
See our data
- Work-related fatalities
- Work-related injuries
- Work-related diseases
- Return to Work
- Explore our data
- About our data
- Industry benchmarking
- Research by industry or topic
See our latest Key work health and safety statistics
explore our data
We develop national policy and strategy about workers' compensation.
- Workers’ compensation
- Comparing workers' compensation in Australia
- National Return to Work Strategy
- Deemed diseases
- Permanent impairment
- Workers' compensation for psychological injury
Read the Strategy
Resources and Publications
We publish a wide range of resources covering many work health and safety topics.
- Codes of practice
- Video and audio
- Corporate publications
- Media releases
Read our Codes of Practice
read the codes
Slips, trips and falls
Each year slips, trips and falls cause thousands of preventable injuries.
- Safety by topic
The most common ones are:
- musculoskeletal injuries (injuries to muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, cartilage and spinal discs)
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:
- ditches, or
- wet or slippery surfaces.
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
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.
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 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 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.
- Model Code of Practice: How to manage work health and safety risks
- Model Code of Practice: Managing the work environment and facilities
- Slips and trips at the workplace fact sheet
SWA is not a regulator and cannot advise you about WHS issues in the workplace. If you need help please contact your state or territory work health and safety authority .
We develop national policy relating to WHS and workers' compensation.
YOUNG RETAIL WORKERS
Slips, trips, and falls.
You can slip when you lose your footing, you can trip when you catch your foot on or in something, and you fall when you come down suddenly. Spills, ice, snow, rain, loose mats, rugs, and stepladders are some of the common causes of slips, trips, and falls. In addition, poor lighting and clutter can cause injuries such as sprains, strains, bruises, bumps, fractures, scratches, and cuts.
Tips to Stay Safe
- If you see something you might slip or trip on, tell your supervisor right away.
- Clean up spills and anything slippery. Check with your supervisor about how to use cleaning products. Don’t use cleaners that could make the floor slippery.
- Clear walkways, stairs, and lobbies of anything that might be a tripping hazard, such as cords, wires, empty boxes, and clutter.
- Make sure that floor mats lay flat rather than wrinkled or bunched.
- Use handrails when you walk up and down steps.
- Before using any ladder or stepladder, make sure it opens fully.
- Check that ladder extensions are fully locked and that the ladder legs are stable on a flat, non-slippery surface.
- Clean off any slippery material on the rungs, steps, or feet of a ladder before you use it.
- Don’t go over the load limit noted on the ladder.
Slips, trips, and falls are common causes of injuries in retail stores.
Falls from portable ladders (step, straight, combination and extension) are one of the leading causes of occupational fatalities and injuries.
Find Out More
Slip-Resistant Shoes Reduce Food Services Worker Slip Injuries Learn how 5-star rated slip-resistant shoes can reduce food services worker slip injuries.
Preventing Slips, Trips, and Falls in Wholesale and Retail Trade Establishments DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 2011-100
Slip, Trip, and Fall Prevention for Healthcare Workers. DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 2011-123
Portable Ladder Safety , OSHA 3246-09N-05
< Avoid Overworking Stay Safe When You Drive or Ride on the Job >
- Young Worker Safety and Health
- Safe • Skilled • Ready Workforce Program
- Small Business
- Center for Productive Aging and Work
- Workplace Safety & Health Topics
- Publications and Products
- Contact NIOSH
Exit Notification / Disclaimer Policy
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cannot attest to the accuracy of a non-federal website.
- Linking to a non-federal website does not constitute an endorsement by CDC or any of its employees of the sponsors or the information and products presented on the website.
- CDC is not responsible for Section 508 compliance (accessibility) on other federal or private website.
To have a better experience, you need to:
- Go to your browser's settings
Preventing slips, trips, and falls in the workplace
Learn about the steps you can take to minimize risk and prevent slips, trips, and falls in your workplace.
On this page Skip this page navigation
Falls from heights and same-level falls can happen anywhere, anytime.
Every year falls lead to a significant number of worker injuries and deaths, particularly in construction. Slips, trips and falls are some of the leading injuries that cause workers to miss time at work. You can help prevent slips, trips, and falls. Preventing these injuries is a critical goal for every safe and healthy workplace.
This resource provides general information on slips, trips, and falls in the workplace and does not address industry-specific regulatory requirements.
- take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of workers
- provide information, instruction, and supervision to workers to protect the health or safety of the workers
- acquaint workers and supervisors with any slip, trip, or fall hazard in the work and in the handling, storage, and use of any article, device, or equipment
These duties may involve:
- identifying and assessing the risk of job-specific slip, trip and fall hazards
- establishing controls to eliminate or reduce workers’ exposure to slip, trip and fall hazards
- ensuring the control measures are working
- report known slip, trip or fall hazards to the employer or supervisor
- use or wear equipment, protective devices or clothing required by the employer
- report to the employer or supervisor the absence of or defect in any equipment or protective device of which they are aware and which may endanger them or other workers
Slip, trip and fall hazards
Consider the following common slip, trip and fall hazards in your workplace:
- slippery surfaces (for example, oily or greasy surfaces)
- seasonal slip, trip and fall hazards (for example, snow and ice)
- spills of wet or dry substances
- changes in walkway levels and slopes
- unsecured mats
- unsafe use of ladders
- poor lighting
- falls from beds of trucks, trailers or loads
- debris and cables in walkways
- smoke, steam or dust obscuring view
- lack of guardrails on mezzanines and balconies
- unsuitable footwear
- poorly maintained equipment (for example, ladders, fall arrest, etc. )
Consider the following when establishing safe work practices for your workplace:
- characteristics of physical work area
- weather conditions (for example, snow, ice, rain, etc. )
- tasks performed
- workers’ work practices
Control measures for slip, trip and fall hazards may include:
- engineering controls
- administrative controls
- safe work practices
- personal protective equipment
Engineering controls include:
- slip-resistant flooring and slip-resistant mats
- slope of surface (for example, ramps and handrails)
- surface free of obstructions/holes
- appropriate drainage
- adequate lighting (minimize glare and contrast)
- minimize environmental influences (for example, blocking wind, preventing wet surfaces from icing, etc. )
- guardrails for raised floors, mezzanines and balconies
- sound footing for ladders and work platforms
- covers for openings in floors or other surfaces
Administrative controls include:
- provide wet floor signage
- train workers to prevent slips, trips and falls
- establish safe work practices
- communicate a procedure for reporting hazards
- ensure prompt maintenance
- design jobs to minimize tasks requiring excessive pushing/pulling, line-of-sight obstruction and over-reaching
- ensure shovels, mops and buckets are readily available
- correct poor work practices
- conduct joint health and safety committee monthly inspections
- review slip, trip and fall incidents
Safe work practices
Safe work practices include:
- clean up spills promptly
- remove debris, snow and ice
- routinely clean floors with appropriate solutions
- use two hands to climb/descend ladders
- maintain three-point contact on ladders
- clean castors on wheeled carts
- remove clutter from walking surfaces
- clean grease build-up from slip resistant mats
Personal protective equipment
- Select appropriate footwear based on a risk assessment of the job task.
- Wear proper-fitting footwear that may include slip-resistant soles.
- Properly select, use and maintain fall protection equipment.
Find information below on how to prevent falls in specific workplace environments.
Proper ergonomics can protect workers from slips, trips and falls. Learn more about ladder ergonomics and what employers can do to reduce falls .
The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board ( WSIB )’s Health and Safety Excellence program can help you prevent falls in your workplace with resources about a number of topics including:
- recognition of hazards
- risk assessment
- control of hazards
- health and safety training and competency
Successfully learning about these program topics may also earn you WSIB rebates and recognition.
- Training for working at heights
- Video: Fall Hazards in Construction and Inspectors’ Enforcement Tools
- Video: Safety on Swing Stages
- Infrastructure Health & Safety Association: Fall Prevention and Working at Heights ( IHSA )
- Video: Commercial Kitchens: Slips, Trips, Falls and Other Hazards
- Workplace Safety & Prevention Services: Slips, Trips & Falls ( WSPS )
- Public Services Health & Safety Association ( PSHSA )
- Workplace Safety North: Falls ( WSN )
This resource does not replace the Occupational Health and Safety Act ( OHSA ) and its regulations and should not be used as or considered legal advice . Health and safety inspectors apply and enforce these laws based on the facts they find in the workplace.
We have included links to other websites, but this does not mean that we endorse their information as compliant with the OHSA or the regulations.