Slips on wet and contaminated floors

Injury statistics

Slips and trips injuries comprise 35% of 'major' injuries in the food and drink industries (e.g. causing a broken arm or requiring hospitalisation). Slips injuries are more prevalent in the food and drink industries than in most other industries.

For both major and over-3-day absence injuries combined, slips and trips comprise nearly 25% of food and drink industry injuries reported to HSE. This represents around 1,300 injuries per year, of which approximately 80% are slips and 20% trips.

Main causes of slip and trip injuries

It is a common misconception that slip injuries just happen and that little can be done about it. However years of experience now shows that slip prevention can be managed effectively and can cut injuries by 50% or more, significantly reducing costs.

Most slips (90%) occur when the floor is wet with water or contaminated with food product.

Most trips (75%) are caused by obstructions, the remainder by uneven surfaces.

Managing the risk

Prevention of slips

  • Eliminate contamination of the floor from water or food product (eg lips around tables, leak and spillage prevention, dry methods to clean floors)
  • Prevent contamination of walkways (eg bunds around equipment, drainage channels, cleaning incoming footwear)
  • Limit the effects of contamination (eg immediate treatment of spillages, good ventilation for drying)
  • Ensure floor has sufficient surface roughness. Floors which may become water contaminated should have at least 20 microns roughness (Rtm) increasing to 45 microns for milk and 70 microns for olive oil. Such roughness is microscopic and does not prevent hygienic cleaning.
  • Ensure cleaning regime is effective and reduces slip risk. Floor treatments can often make floors more slippery.
  • Select suitable footwear as the effectiveness of shoe soles to prevent slips varies considerably. In general, softer soles (eg microcellular urethane with a good pattern) are least slippery on wet floors.
  • Carrying loads or pushing/pulling trolleys increases the slip risk and should be eliminated or reduced where possible.

Prevention of trips

  • Eliminate holes, slopes or uneven surfaces
  • Eliminate materials or objects likely to cause tripping

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Updated 2023-06-15