Slips and trips
This page contains information and guidance to help you prevent slip and trip accidents in the cleaning industry.
What you must do
You must ensure that your employees and anyone else who could be affected by your work (such as visitors and members of the public), are kept safe from harm. You must assess the risk from slips and trips and take reasonable precautions.
What you should know
Slips and trips remain the single most common cause of major injury in UK workplaces.
The process of cleaning can create slip and trip hazards, especially for those entering the area being cleaned, such as the cleaners. Examples include smooth floors left damp and slippery, trailing wires from a vacuum or buffing machine, which can present a trip hazard.
An effective cleaning regime requires a good management system to help you identify problem areas, decide what to do, act on decisions made and check that the steps have been effective.
Good communication is also needed at all levels to ensure messages are effective and the right action is taken, eg between equipment and chemical suppliers to ensure suitability of a product for the type of contaminant and floor.
Effective training and supervision is essential to ensure cleaning is undertaken to the correct standard. Cleaners need to be informed of their duties and why the cleaning needs to be undertaken in a particular way or at a particular time. Lack of understanding can lead to inappropriate shortcuts.
Contamination is implicated in almost all slip accidents. Regular and effective cleaning to remove contamination helps to reduce accidents.
- use the correct amount of the right cleaning product
- allow detergents enough time to work on greasy floors
- maintain cleaning equipment so it remains effective
- use a dry mop or squeegee on wet floors to reduce floor-drying time, but remember, while the floor is damp there is still a slip risk
- even using a well-wrung mop will leave a thin film of water, sufficient enough to create a slip risk on a smooth floor
- spot clean where possible
People often slip on floors that have been left wet after cleaning. Stop pedestrian access to smooth wet floors by using barriers, locking doors, or cleaning in sections. Signs and cones only warn of a hazard, they do not prevent people from entering the area. If the spill is not visible, they are usually ignored.
You must assess the risk from slips and trips and take reasonable precautions. Some simple things you might consider as part of your assessment are:
Most slips happen on wet or dirty floors. Ensure cleaning happens at the right time and is carried out in the correct manner, using the right products and equipment for the job. Ensure wet floors signs are always used.
Ensure spillages are cleaned up immediately and the floor is left dry.
Floor in poor condition
It's easy to trip on damaged floors so, if you spot an area of damage, highlight the damaged area, report it and where possible keep people away.
Ensure cleaners use electrical sockets nearest to where they are working to reduce the risk of tripping.
Find out more
General slips and trips
- Slips and trips: The importance of floor cleaning
- Slips and trips: Hazard spotting checklist
- The Invisible Workforce - a report by EHRC