Slips, Trips and Falls

Slips, trips and falls account for the highest number of incidents reported across the University. The sudden, unexpected movement and falls resulting from slips and trips may result in serious injuries. Workers and students can take simple actions to avoid slip, trip and fall injuries.

What causes slips, trips and falls?

There are a number of reasons why people slip or trip within the workplace:

  • Slippery floors and paths;
  • Low visibility due to inadequate lighting;
  • Ill-fitting or unstable footwear;
  • Rushing to appointments or to catch transport;
  • Uneven paths;
  • Carrying bulky items that block view of the path or stairs, and;
  • Clutter or trailing cords in walkways.

What should you do?

Take some time out to look at your work area and plan ahead:

  • Move trailing cords or cables out of walkways to prevent trips.
  • Allocate some time for tidying up your work area and ensuring aisles are kept clear of items that may cause slips, trips and falls.
  • Leave a little earlier for that meeting or to catch the bus or train instead of having to rush. You’ll be more relaxed too!
  • Use the hand rails when you’re walking down or up stairs.
  • Look where you’re walking. Reading or sending messages on your phone while walking may distract you from seeing trip or slip hazards in your path.
  • On rainy days, wipe your shoes on mats at building entrances and place wet umbrellas in receptacles provided.
  • Invest in a pair of shoes with good tread and stability. After all, doesn’t everyone love shopping for shoes?

Check List for Common Problems

Be on the lookout for hazards that may cause trips, slips and falls. Report problems that require repair or maintenance of buildings or grounds (marked with * below) to Campus Assist online.

Spillage of wet or dry substances   Know your workplace procedures for cleaning up spills. Where it is appropriate, clean up spills as soon as possible. If the area is still wet after the cleaning process, use warning signs or provide alternative access.
Floor coverings Identify problems with the condition and placement of mats/rugs, and method of securing them to the floor. *
Floor cleaning People can slip on wet floors or trip over electrical cords. Avoid wet mopping, vacuuming or using a floor polisher during busy times. Use floor cleaning materials in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions.
Unguarded floor openings Report any openings in the floor that are not protected by barriers or guards.*
Type of footwear Wear the most appropriate footwear for the job and work environment.  
Wet or dirty footwear, or wet clothing Before entering a building, wipe your shoes on available mats and shake off wet clothing or umbrellas. Use storage where wet items can be placed, such as bins for wet umbrellas.
Poor lighting Report to your supervisor any lighting that is inadequate to see the floor or any obstacles. *
Untidy areas Keep your workplace tidy, keep walkways clear and make sure cords and cables are out of the way. Make sure objects don’t create a trip hazard.
Rubbish Ensure paper, food, packaging, and other rubbish is removed and that bins don’t overflow.
Report any damaged steps, treads or handrails. * Don’t use stairways for storage.
Stairs Don't use stairways for storage.
Ramps If ramps are too steep or surface finish slippery, report the problem. *
Outdoors Surfaces Be aware of problems in outdoors areas, such as wet or uneven surfaces, potholes, rocks, rubble and other obstacles. Take appropriate action to address the problem such as arranging maintenance, repairing damaged surfaces or using cleaning agents. *
Carrying items and moving loads
Carry items so that you can clearly see where you have to go. Don’t carry loads that are too heavy. Make sure there are no protruding items likely to cause a problem, such as dangling cords. Use mechanical aids or team lifting where appropriate.
Excessive workloads  Avoid running and rushing around. Report workload problems to your supervisor.
Use ladders in accordance with the manufacturer’s information on safe use. Report damaged ladders to your supervisor.

Common Risk Control Measures

Be sure to report any problems that require repair or maintenance of buildings or grounds (marked with * below) to Campus Assist online.


  • Use handrails provided.
  • Provide clear visual cues for the start and finish of the stairs, ample lighting above the stairs, and a good tread pattern that does not distract from perceiving the edge of each individual step. *


  • Isolate and clean-up spills without delay.
  • Make sure there is easy access to equipment and materials for cleaning up spills. Use absorbent materials for cleaning up spills. The material used should not leave a residue.
  • Transport and carry substances in appropriate containers to avoid spills. Use lids or covers where necessary.

Machinery and Equipment

  • Carry out regular maintenance and inspection of production machinery for signs of leaks. Prevent machines spraying out liquids by adjusting or enclosing the machine.
  • Avoid the use of extension cords where possible by installing extra power points, using wireless or battery-powered technology and tools.
  • Carry out regular site clean-ups to remove rubbish.
  • When moving materials by hand or by trolleys that are pushed, make sure materials are not stacked so high that the view of the floor ahead is obscured.


  • Allow sufficient time to carry out housekeeping tasks.


  • Stop rainwater, snow and mud being walked indoors on wet days. Have absorbent flooring materials set into the floor at entrances.
  • Provide leak proof receptacles at entrances to buildings for leaving wet umbrellas or provide leak proof plastic bags at entrances for wet umbrellas that are being carried.

External environments

  • Report uneven external paths that present a trip hazard. *


  • Report paths that are slippery due to vegetation such as moss, tree roots, leaf litter, fallen fruit or seed pods. *


  • Use warning signs to alert people to surfaces that are wet following recent cleaning or spills.
  • Signage should indicate procedures, such as specific footwear required for certain locations. This is important especially for visitors to the workplace.


  • Wear the most appropriate footwear for the job and work environment. Risk assessments should include the use of footwear as a control measure, where this is appropriate.

General purpose work footwear should have the following characteristics:

  • a slip resistant sole material
  • a good tread pattern
  • a rounded heel edge with good area of contact (avoid raised heels with small contact area)
  • a cushioned sole
  • a close but comfortable fit.

Further guidance Safework NSW Code of Practice Managing the risk of falls at workplaces .