Slips and trips in retail

This page contains information and guidance to help you prevent slip and trip accidents in the retail 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 the retail sector. Most accidents occur when

  • smooth cleaned floors are left wet;
  • spills are not cleaned up quickly and effectively; and
  • when there is failureĀ  to keep the floor free from contamination.

The process of cleaning can create slip and trip hazards, especially for those entering the area being cleaned, such as the cleaners, for example, smooth floors left damp by a mop are likely to be extremely slippery and trailing wires from a vacuum or buffing machine 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 communications are needed at all levels eg between equipment and chemical suppliers to ensure suitability of 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 reduce accidents.

Top tips

  • Use the right amount of the right cleaning product
  • Detergent needs time to work on greasy floors
  • Cleaning equipment will only be effective if it is well maintained
  • A dry mop or squeegee will reduce floor-drying time but whilst the floor is damp there will be a slip risk.
  • 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:

Wet floors

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.

Trip hazards

Ensure cleaners use electrical sockets nearest to where they are working to reduce the risk of tripping.

Floor cleaning and general flooring selection

See also

Retail case studies

Supermarket fined after ignoring advice about fitting a particular type of floor tiles

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Updated 2021-04-26