Slips, trips and falls (on the same level)

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Employee / workerEmployer

Slips, trips and falls can be prevented in workplaces. Awareness of the common risk factors for slips, trips and falls, coupled with a strong management commitment, can reduce and prevent slips, trips and falls incidents.

Slips, trips and falls are a significant problem affecting every workplace. Slips and trips account for about 20 per cent of all lost time injuries yearly. They can result in severe injuries and lengthy periods off work. 

A slip occurs when friction between the floor surface and footwear is insufficient. Slippery floor surfaces, contaminated floors and inappropriate footwear are risk factors that can lead to slips in the workplace.

A trip occurs when excessive friction between a surface and footwear or the person’s foot is caught by an obstruction while moving. Trips can also happen when unexpected surface variations are encountered.

A fall may occur as a result of many incidents. A fall can happen when an individual cannot correct their upright posture after tripping, slipping or losing their balance in some other way. A fall can also occur because the surface a person is standing on or stepping onto collapses or moves. Falls may arise from a height or on the same level.

For information on falling from height refer to the Working at height section of the website and the Code of practice - Managing the risk of falls at workplaces.

Risk factors

Risk factors contributing to slips and trip injuries will vary according to the type of workplace and work tasks being completed. Common risk factors include:

  • Floor surface & condition 
  • Objects on the floor 
  • Ability to see floor surfaces and hazards
  • Cleaning and spill containment 
  • Stairs & stepladders 
  • Work activities, pace & processes 
  • Footwear & clothing 

Floor surfaces

Selecting the most appropriate flooring and keeping it well-maintained will significantly reduce slips, trips, and falls risk.

Floors must be designed, installed and maintained to allow work to be carried out safely. The choice of floor surface will depend on the type of work carried out at the workplace, the materials used, the likelihood of spills and the need for cleaning.

The key issues to consider when assessing the suitability of the flooring are:

  • Smooth, hard surfaces increase the risk of slips
  • Contaminants on the floor further increase risk
  • Incorrect cleaning can make floors more slippery
  • Changes in the height of flooring can cause trips, including changes as small as 1cm or even less
  • Slips, trips and falls also occur between areas with different types of flooring material
  • A floor that is slip-resistant when dry may not be slip-resistant when wet
  • Floor roughness is more effective than slip-resistant footwear in reducing slips.

Floor surfaces should have enough grip to prevent slipping, especially in areas that may become wet or contaminated. Contaminates can reduce the grip on floor surfaces and increase the risk of slipping. Cleaning methods should also take account of the potential for slips, which may be increased by using some cleaning agents.


All walkways should be clear and suitably illuminated, keeping all items off the floor through storage or cable management systems. Where objects cannot be moved, highlight them (e.g. yellow paint on edges of large equipment). To achieve a tidy workplace that is free from slip, trip and fall hazards, you need:

  • Suitable storage systems close to workstations
  • Spill management systems
  • Routine and spot cleaning
  • maintenance schedules
  • Repairing or replacing carpet flooring that is uneven, buckling, peeling or curled
  • Repairing or replacing hard surfaces that are uneven, cracked, blistered and with height irregularities.

Further guidance on managing risks associated with slips and trips is available in Safe Work Australia’s Slips and Trips at the Workplace fact sheetSlips, Trips and Falls Risk Management worksheet and Code of Practice - Managing the Work Environment and Facilities.

WHS Duties

Everyone in the workplace has a role in managing the risk of slips, trips and falls on the same level. These duties are set out in the WHS Act and WHS Regulations.

For business (PCBU)

As a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), you must keep workers and workplaces safe from the risks of slips, trips and falls.

People with management or control of a workplace must ensure that the workplace, the means of entering and exiting the workplace and anything arising from the workplace are without risks to the health and safety of any person.

This means that the duty to provide and maintain a safe work environment and adequate facilities may be shared between duty holders. For example, a PCBU renting their workplace will share responsibilities with the landlord or property manager. In these situations, the duty holders must consult, cooperate and coordinate activities with each other.

Slips and trip hazards can be controlled by providing and maintaining safe workplaces and systems of work. With work environments and facilities, you must ensure that:

  • The layout of the workplace allows people to enter and exit the workplace and move within it safely
  • Work areas have space for work to be carried out safely
  • Floors and other surfaces are designed, installed and maintained to allow work to be carried out safely
  • Lighting enables each worker to carry out work safely, move around safely and safely evacuation in an emergency
  • The means of entry and exit to and from the workplace is safe. This includes ensuring that:
    • Workers with special needs or disabilities can safely enter and leave the workplace
    • entries and exits are slip-resistant under wet and dry conditions
    • aisles and walkways are at least 600 mm wide and kept free of furniture and other obstructions
    • open sides of staircases are guarded with an upper rail at 900 mm or higher and a lower rail
    • A handrail is provided on at least one side of every staircase. Further information is available in AS 1657:1992 Fixed platforms, walkways, stairways and ladders – Design, construction and installation.

Information, training, instruction and supervision

Workers must be trained and have the appropriate skills to safely carry out a particular task. Training should be provided to workers by a competent person, and information on:

  • Slips, trips, and falls risk management
  • Specific slips, trips and falls risks and the measures in place to control them
  • How to report a problem or maintenance issue

You should keep records of induction and training given to your workers. See PCBU duties for more information on these duties.

For workers

As a worker, you must take reasonable care for your health and safety and not adversely affect the health and safety of others.

You must comply with reasonable instructions and cooperate with health and safety policies or procedures.

If personal protective equipment (PPE) is provided, you must use or wear it following the information, instruction, and training provided.

Tell your manager or Health and Safety Representative (HSR) if you are concerned about your health and safety at work. See Workers and Others Duties for more information on these duties.

Managing the risk

There are a range of techniques you can use to eliminate or minimise the risks at your work. Eliminating the risk is the most effective control measure. If this is not practicable, minimise the risk as much as possible.

The best way to manage slips, trips and falls risks is to follow a systematic risk management process:

  • Identifying hazardous manual tasks  
  • Assessing the risks
  • Implementing control measures to eliminate or minimise risks and
  • Regularly reviewing control measures to ensure they remain effective.  

If you have them, you must do these things in consultation with your workers and any Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs).

Refer to the slip, trips, and fall risk management worksheet for further assistance with the risk assessment process. 

Step 1 - Identify hazards 

Identifying hazards is the first step to determining precisely where slips, trips and falls (STF) can or have occurred in your workplace. You can find out this information by:

Common hazards include trailing cables, uneven edges or broken surfaces, gratings or covers, loose mats or carpet tiles.

Step 2 - Assess the risk

The next step is to assess the slip, trip, and fall risk. Assessing the risk involves identifying all the risk factors contributing to the risk of slips or trips and determining the potential likelihood and consequences of a slip or trip.  

Risk factors will vary according to the type of workplace and work tasks being completed. Usually, it is a combination of factors that create the risk. These factors include:

  • Floor surface & condition
  • Floor contamination
  • Objects on the floor
  • Ability to see floors and hazards
  • Cleaning and spill containment
  • Space and design
  • Stairs and stepladders
  • Work activities, pace and processes; and
  • Footwear

Using all the risk factors identified, consider:

  • How many people are exposed
  • the consequences of the slip, trip or fall; and
  • How often the situation occurs.

Step 3 - Control risks

Look at the assessed risks and decide what needs to be done to eliminate or reduce the risks and how quickly these control measures need to be implemented. The hierarchy of control guides you to choose a solution that most effectively eliminates or minimises the risk. There are different types of control strategies to eliminate or reduce the risks. These are listed below in order of their effectiveness. Quite often, a range of controls is needed to control the risk effectively.

Common controls used in workplaces can be categorised according to the hierarchy of controls:


You must always aim to eliminate the risk. Examples include:

  • Choose an appropriate floor surface for the type of work at the design stage 
  • Replace flooring
  • Install a canopy over the front entrance of the building

If eliminating the hazards and associated risks is not reasonably practicable, you must minimise the risk by one or more of the following:


Minimise the risk by substituting or replacing a hazard with something that gives rise to a lesser risk. Examples include:

  • Resurface floors with less hazardous materials


Minimise the risk by isolating or separating the hazard or hazardous work practice from anyone exposed. For example:

  • Restrict access to high-risk areas


Engineering controls are physical control measures to minimise risk. For example:

  • Apply floor treatments to increase slip resistance
  • Improve lighting
  • Repair leaks from equipment or
  • Mark edges and steps
  • Ensure stairs and ramps have handrails

Administrative controls

If risk remains, it must be minimised by implementing administrative controls so far as is reasonably practicable. For example:

  • Regularly inspect machinery and production processes
  • Implement spill management procedures
  • Carry out floor cleaning outside of operational hours
  • Use of signage or barricades for wet or slippery areas 

Personal Protective Equipment

Any remaining risk must be minimised with suitable personal protective equipment (PPE). For example:

  • Use of suitable footwear

Administrative control measures and PPE do not control the hazard at the source. They rely on human behaviour and supervision and, used on their own, tend to be the least effective in minimising risks.

To implement the most effective controls, you should:

  • Start at the top of the hierarchy of control
  • Allow workers to trial controls and get their feedback before decisions are made to make them permanent
  • Develop work procedures to ensure that controls are understood, and responsibilities are clear
  • Communicate the reasons for the change to workers and others
  • Provide training to ensure workers can competently implement the risk controls.

Step 4 - Review risk controls 

The last step of the risk management process is to review the effectiveness of the implemented control measures to check that they are working as planned. A control measure must be changed or replaced if it is ineffective. Common review methods include workplace inspection, consultation, testing and analysing records and data. 

After a slip, trip, falls incident

After an incident, it’s important to:

  • Determine what caused the incident
  • Make changes to prevent further incidents
  • Support the worker with rehabilitation and return to work.


Following an incident, it is essential to investigate to identify and control contributing risk factors, preventing future incidents. The investigation should include the injured worker, supervisor/ manager and health and safety representative (if they exist). 

The injured worker must be consulted so that there is a clear understanding of the mechanism of injury. The injured worker’s perspective of what may have led to the problem usually provides vital clues as to what went wrong and why. They often also have appropriate ideas about what controls may be implemented to reduce the risk of re-injury.

During the investigation, the investigators must look for causes, not blame. Systems fail for many reasons, and the people involved are often not the cause of the incident.

Investigations should:

  • Be a team approach (safety rep, line manager/supervisor, safety personnel, person/s with relevant knowledge).
  • Look for causes, not blame.
  • Aim to establish what should have happened compared to what happened.
  • Determine a summary of the incident and recommendations for controls. 
  • Aim to prevent recurrence.

Use this template for guidance Investigation report - Slips, trips and falls.

Make changes

Inspect the workplace for slip, trip and fall hazards, assess the risk and make changes to reduce the risk of future incidents. This fact sheet provides information about managing risks from slips, trips and falls on the same level Slips and trips fact sheet – fact sheet

Injury Management 

Immediate treatment of an injury and early return to appropriate work tasks reduce the severity and length of recovery. Further information about injury management and work rehabilitation can be found through WorkCover WA.

Industry Guidance

Food Industry

Floors with flour, oil or water spills are the greatest cause of slip, trip and fall injuries.

There are several simple ways of minimising the risk of slips and falls in these areas.

Standards and compliance

Further Information



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