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Preventing slips and trips in kitchens within catering

Health and Safety Executive / Local Authorities Enforcement Liaison Committee (HELA)

Local Authority Circular

  • Subject: Slips, Trips and Falls
  • Open Government Status: Fully Open
  • LAC Number: 77/5 rev1
  • Publication Date: 01/01/2001
  • Review Date: 01/01/2016

This circular gives advice to all visiting staff including local authority enforcement officers.


This LAC contains useful information for local authority enforcement officers when conducting inspections or accident investigations on slips and trips issues in catering establishments. Information in this LAC should be used in conjunction with the HSE Stop Slips in Kitchens, in particular the Good Practice Guide which deals with flooring issues.


Target the working area of the kitchen where most accidents happen, specifically where food is prepared, cooked and plated up, where floors are likely to become greasy, oily or contaminated with food debris. For other areas of the premises, eg customer areas, behind the bar, store rooms etc. the risk is likely to be far lower.

Some of the contents of the Stop Slips in Kitchens employers pack can be used as an aid for inspection and enforcement, in particular the 'Good Practice Guide' and the 'Floor Cleaning Card'. Other useful information is also included in the pack: Choosing Footwear for use in kitchens; and Top Tips.

It is suggested you have the 'Good Practice Guide' at hand when reading this circular, as it is referred to frequently also the table at the end of this document has been developed to sit alongside it. 


For advice on making enforcement decisions please refer to the slips and trips topic inspection pack and EMM. For slips and trips in kitchens the EMM Benchmark is as follows.

If duty holder moves away from the nil/neg likelihood then some kind of action should be taken be it advice or serving a notice.

When to serve a notice
If the kitchen floor is slippery when wet or contaminated with substances: -

  1. Significant contamination of floor surface frequently occurs eg from a leak or food preparation process; and
  2. Contamination occurs in an area which is frequented by people; and
  3. Procedures are non-existent/ineffective at controlling contamination eg measures not taken to prevent contamination reaching the floor, access available to mop-wet floor after cleaning or spillages allowed to accumulate on walking surfaces.

When providing advice and taking enforcement action the slips and trips risk assessment hierarchy of controls should be kept in mind eg it would be incorrect to request a change of floor if contamination can be stopped from getting onto the floor, as a smooth dry floor is not a slip risk, it is only when it is contaminated.  (

See the table at the end of this document for further information on likelihood, applicable notice templates and controls.

Use of Slips Assessment Tool (SAT)

For the working areas of the kitchen, if the floor falls into the yellow or red sections of the 'Good Practice Guide' SAT will most likely indicate that there is a significant or high risk of slipping. SAT can be useful as it can outline the slip risk to employers, give you some indication as to where the business is failing as regards slips, and provide data on floor roughness. If serving a notice to replace a new floor, or taking a prosecution, do not rely on SAT data, request scientific support.

Updated 2021-01-08