Slips, Trips and Falls

Created on: 20 Jul 2023

HSE statistics suggest that slips and trips are a major cause of accidents to education employees.

Regulation 12 of the Workplace Regs states that every workplace floor:

  1. must be suitably constructed, without uneven or slippery surfaces;
  2. be free, so far as is reasonably practicable, from obstructions slip, trip or fall hazards; and
  3. should have effective drainage in wet areas. In addition stairs must be provided with handrails.

Practical Measures for Slips Risk Control in Educational Establishments

HSE Education Information Sheet No 2: ‘Preventing slip and trip incidents in the educations sector’, provides guidance on the practical measures which can help to reduce the risks of accidents due to slips, trips or falls. This guidance is summarised below:

External steps, paths and parking areas:

  • Suitable lighting – replace, repair or clean lights before levels become too low to be safe
  • Ensure steps and paths are suitable for the volume of pedestrian traffic
  • Ensure paving slabs are secure and tarmac paths in good condition to give a flat, even surface
  • Maintain parking area so that it is free of potholes
  • Mark the nosing of steps using anti-slip coating, as smooth, gloss paint will make the surface slippery under wet conditions
  • Provide handrails where appropriate and maintain in good condition
  • Discourage short cuts across grassed/muddy areas
  • Clean leaves, mud etc from surfaces
  • Remove algal growth
  • Put in place effective procedures to deal with snow or ice

Playgrounds and all-weather ports surfaces:

  • Ensure surface is flat and well maintained to avoid surface water
  • Remove accumulations of mud/water
  • Remove algal growth
  • Ensure users wear the appropriate footwear for the surface
  • Ensure adequate supervision at all times

Building entrances/exits

  • Provide suitable non-slip, water absorbing mats at entrances
  • Maintain mats in good condition and change when saturated
  • Ensure that temporary matting does not pose a trip risk
  • Display signs warning of hidden steps/changes of level
  • Display signs warning of risk of slipping when appropriate
  • Site door catches and door stops safely

Sports halls

  • Avoid over polishing of floor surface
  • Ensure suitable footwear is worn
  • Maintain floor mats in good condition and ensure they remain flat
  • Keep smooth floors clean and completely free of wet or dusty contamination

Changing rooms/swimming pools

  • Avoid contamination of the floor surface with mud/water from pupils entering – provide shoe cleaning brushes/scrapers
  • Provide non-slip tiling on floor surfaces
  • Ensure specialist anti-slip tiles/surfaces are sourced and specified correctly
  • Provide drainage mats or grids in shower areas
  • Provide handholds for people with disabilities

Internal stairs and corridors

  • Ensure a staggered release of students onto heavily used traffic routes
  • Put in place measures for traffic streaming and flow management up/down stairs
  • Put in place measures for traffic streaming and flow management along corridors
  • Mark nosing of steps using anti-slip coating, as smooth, gloss paint will make the surface slippery under wet conditions
  • Provide handrails Lighting – replace, repair or clean lights before levels become too low to be safe
  • Apply appropriate anti-slip coatings to areas of smooth flooring which may become wet

Classroom areas (including laboratories and practical areas)

  • Avoid trailing cables from equipment and tools
  • storage racks for pupils’ bags
  • Provide coat hooks/racks for drying wet clothing – consider siting such areas on specialist anti-slip flooring as even drips of rain water on smooth surfaces can be enough to result in slips
  • Provide specialist anti-slip flooring in potentially wet areas
  • Do not store materials or equipment below tables/benches
  • Avoid overcrowding of rooms
  • Control the entry and exit of people from classes
  • Display art work, practical work etc safely
  • Clear away toys in early-years classes

Preparation rooms, technician areas and storage rooms

  • Provide suitable storage for goods and equipment Keep containers of bulk liquids in bunded areas
  • Clear area around machines, kilns and other equipment
  • Use slip-resistant flooring around machines
  • Remove floor contamination, eg sawdust, clay, oils


  • Provide suitable equipment to avoid spillages (from cooking, washing etc)
  • Provide edged work surfaces to contain spillages
  • Ensure good ventilation to avoid smoke/steam and condensation
  • Ensure staff wear suitable footwear
  • Clean spillages and pick up food contamination immediately
  • Dry floors effectively after cleaning
  • Ensure good housekeeping around bins
  • Provide suitable floor surface
  • Clean floors with appropriate products for surface after work has finished
  • Display suitable warning signs re wet floors/stairs while cleaning is in progress
  • Remove warning signs when cleaning/drying is complete

Canteen areas

  • Ensure staff wear suitable footwear
  • Clean spillages immediately
  • Use safe cleaning methods
  • Provide suitable floor surface
  • Clean floors when pupils/students have left
  • Display suitable warning signs re wet floors/stairs while cleaning is in progress
  • Remove warning signs when cleaning/drying is complete


  • Avoid trailing cables/Use cable covers
  • Provide adequate storage
  • Avoid storage of materials on floors
  • Ensure good housekeeping round photocopiers, printers etc
  • Replace worn or damaged carpets/tiles
  • Provide secure storage for bags etc


  • Ensure temporary cabling is routed safely and protected from damage
  • Provide sufficient lighting during set-up/dismantling
  • Use of temporary matting/straw coverings on grassed areas

Educational Visits

  • Assess location and anticipated weather
  • Modify visit depending on local conditions when on site
  • Wear suitable footwear
  • Ensure effective management of the visit

Premises managers will need to consider the individual needs of the user population. Some pupils, students and visitors may have disabilities. Arrangements will need to be reviewed for open evenings, events, functions etc when further precautions may be required for people with disabilities and for anyone unfamiliar with the site.

Working at Height

The Work at Height Regulations 2005 cover all work at height where there is a risk of a fall liable to cause personal injury (these Regulations replaced the requirements under Regulation 10 and 11 of the Workplace Regs).

Employers are required to do all that is reasonably practicable to prevent anyone falling. Working at height should be avoided where possible. Where avoidance is not possible work equipment or other measures should be taken to prevent falls.

Training should be provided for employees who are required to work at height. The use of step-ladders or ladders is covered by these regulations. Working at height increases the risk serious injury and should be avoided.

Teachers and lecturers should not undertake work at height unless they have been provided with appropriate equipment (eg, step ladders or a working platform) and have received training in the use of the equipment and on safety when working at height.

Traffic Routes

Regulation 17 of the Workplace Regs states that workplaces must be organised to allow the safe circulation of pedestrians and vehicles. Traffic routes must be suitable for their intended use, sufficient in number, be suitably positioned and indicated, and of sufficient size.

Suitable measures must be taken to ensure that use of traffic routes does not give rise to risks to persons working nearby; vehicle routes are separated from pedestrian routes; doorways or gates leading onto vehicle routes are sufficiently separated from the route; and vehicles and pedestrians using the same traffic route are sufficiently separated.

The ACoP states the need to consider the requirements of disabled people. HSE recommends a number of factors to consider for improvement of transport safety in the workplace:

Road Layout: design and layout of road systems should be clear, well-marked and wide enough to take the vehicles which will come on site. Account should be taken of any vehicles from outside the worksite, which may be wider or higher than those normally used on sites. The need to reverse vehicles, sharp bends and blind corners should be eliminated, if possible.

Where they exist, clear signs and mirrors should help in reducing the danger. The use of speed inhibitors can assist in reducing the speed of vehicles on site. Traffic flow signs and the markings of doorways, receptions areas etc, should be clear and easily read.

Pedestrians: traffic should be kept separate and specific routes should be provided for pedestrians from which traffic is prohibited. Where traffic may need to cross a designated walkway, it must be clearly marked. Doorways should not open immediately onto a roadway.

Where it is known that many people may exit from a doorway onto the path beside a roadway, barriers should be erected to ensure that people are not forced directly onto the roadway. Parking areas: should be suitable and sufficient for all vehicles and cleaned and maintained. Roads should be constructed of tarmac, concrete or other suitable material and should have even surfaces, be properly drained and avoid excessive gradients.

Lighting: should be adequate for all roads, particularly at road junctions and pedestrian areas. Vehicles and Drivers: work vehicles should be suitable for their purpose and properly maintained in accordance with manufacturers recommendations.

Drivers should be trained and only operate vehicles they are licensed or trained for. Fork lift trucks are a particular source of danger and operators must be trained.