Hazards Causing Slips, Trips And Falls On The Same Level

Main Hazards Causing Slips, Trips And Falls On The Same Level

Hazards Causing Slips, Trips

Slips, trips, and falls on the same level can be caused by several potential hazards. Some of these include:

  • Uneven surfaces or walkways, such as broken pavement or raised carpet edges
  • Poor lighting conditions
  • Loose objects in the way, such as tools or debris
  • Wet floors due to leaks or spills
  • Loose rugs or mats
  • Clutter that can obstruct a clear pathway
  • Uneven changes in floor levels, such as stairs without handrails
  • Electrical cords stretched across walkways or pathways.

It is essential to take the time to identify and address these potential hazards. Regularly inspect walkways and pathways for hazards, and clean up spills or leaks as soon as possible.

Typical slip hazards:

  • Smooth floor surfaces that are: –– Inherently slippery (e.g. polished marble), –– Wet because of spills or cleaning operations.
  • Contamination of a floor with a slippery contaminant (e.g. oil or leaves).
  • Frost and ice (e.g. outside pavements in winter or the floor in a freezer).

Note that a person’s footwear can significantly affect how vulnerable they are to slipping on a floor.

Typical Trip Hazards:

  • Uneven or loose floor surfaces (e.g. broken paving slab; poorly-laid floor mat).
  • Trailing cables (e.g. the cord of a vacuum cleaner).
  • Objects on the floor (e.g. a bag left on the floor).

Note that people frequently ‘trip over their own feet.

When people slip or trip, they often (although not always) fall to the floor. Though falls on the same level do not always lead to serious injury, they may well lead to broken bones (especially in the hand, wrist, or arm).

Steps and stairs are of particular concern because they are locations where slip, trip, and fall accidents can occur more frequently, and the consequences of such accidents can be more serious.

Both slips and trips result from unintended or unexpected changes 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 close file cabinets 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 installing sophisticated flooring, specialty footwear, or training on walking techniques and safe falling will never be fully effective.


Changing or modifying walking surfaces is the next level in preventing slips and trips. Recoating or replacing floors, installing mats, pressure-sensitive abrasive strips or abrasive-filled paint-on coating, and metal or synthetic decking can 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.

Pace and Gait

Good body posture, balance, and gait are essential to preventing falls due to slips and trips. Proper training of employees on techniques such as “falling safely” can prevent injury while falling. Training should also include information about various types of footwear, properties, proper fitting requirements, and maintenance.

In addition, teaching employees the appropriate speed of walking for their environment can also reduce slip and trip incidents. In some cases, it may be necessary to install signs or warnings to increase awareness of potential hazards in a given area.

Finally, employers should consider providing employees with appropriate rest breaks as fatigue increases the risk of slips and trips.

By taking all of these preventive measures, employers can dramatically reduce the number and severity of slip, trip, and fall accidents in the workplace which can lead to broken bones (especially in the hand, wrist, or arm). With a practical and comprehensive safety program, slips and trips can be eliminated from the workplace.

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