RISK MANAGEMENT

Slips and trips in the workplace


Slips, trips and subsequent falls in the workplace can cause injuries ranging from minor to major. A slip occurs when when stability is lost between footwear and the surface of the floor, whilst a trip refers to a person connecting with an obstacle and losing balance.

The numbers

Safe Work Australia’s statistics show that thousands of people are injured each year due to slips and trips. Common injuries include musculoskeletal damage, cuts, fractures and dislocations. The body parts impacted most frequently are knees, ankles and backs1.

The causes

The statistics also show that from 2003 to 2015, 56% of reported incidents were caused by environmental factors such as:

  • spills
  • poor maintenance of walkways
  • poor lighting, and
  • trip hazards1.

These environmental factors can be managed through methods like:

  • good site practices
  • maintenance
  • internal safety audits and hazard identification, and
  • the implementation of appropriate control measures.

Other factors

The risk of slip and trip incidents can also be increased by factors such as:

  • ineffectual floor surface cleaning
  • wet floor surfaces
  • inherently slippery floor materials
  • uneven or damaged floor surfaces
  • area congestion due to crowds in public spaces through to inadequate storage space or shared workplaces
  • floor transition areas, and
  • choice of footwear.

Minimising risk

To minimise the risk of slips occurring, it is vital to keep floors clean. Ensure that floors are suitable, that no residues are left behind, and that signage is maintained until the floor is dry. Spills should be immediately identified, and cleaned quickly and effectively (as per the floor manufacturer’s guidelines and established internal procedures). Affected areas should be restricted until safe.

Some floor surfaces can be inherently slippery, slip resistance testing as per Australian Standards by a National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accredited laboratory can provide useful information in this regard.

General maintenance

Ensure that your workspace has appropriate lighting and that surfaces are well maintained, with damaged or lifting flooring quickly repaired. Staff awareness, training in hazard identification and workplace safety audits can help you identify slip and trip hazards. Furthermore the selection of footwear should be suitable for workplace activities whilst adhering to personal protective equipment and other site requirements.

Adopting measures to minimise the risk of slips and trips can assist in providing a safer workplace for staff, visitors, patrons and contractors.

GIO can offer Workers Compensation Insurance for businesses in WA, NT, ACT and TAS. Complimentary training courses are available for GIO customers to help businesses prevent workplace injuries and reduce associated claims costs. Customers also have access to a wide range of discounted training courses provided through our partnership with National Safety Council of Australia (NSCA). For more information on the training courses or if you have any risk management queries, please get in touch.

Learn more about Workers Compensation Insurance

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References:

1 Safe Work Australia, 2020: Slips, Trips and Falls

Insurance issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 trading as GIO. In NSW, GIO manages claims as agent for the Workers Compensation Nominal Insurer ABN 83 564 379 108, also known as icare workers insurance.  The information is intended to be of a general nature only. We do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss incurred as a result of reliance upon it – please make your own enquiries.