How to prevent slips, trips, and falls

Search on the internet for slip and fall injuries at work and you’ll probably find that the first few results are for lawyers. The truth is, slip and fall injuries are common—and they can cost you.

In 2019, there were 244,000 nonfatal workplace slip and fall cases that resulted in days away from work. Sadly, 880 workers died in falls, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While construction workers are most at risk for fatal slips, trips, and falls, they can happen to anyone, even desk workers.

Defining each injury

Here’s how the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines each type of injury:

  • Slips are a loss of balance caused by too little friction between your feet and the surface on which you walk or work. Loss of traction is the leading cause of workplace slips. They can be caused by wet surfaces, spills, or weather hazards like ice or snow.

  • Trips happen when your foot hits an object and you are moving with enough momentum to be thrown off balance. They are more likely to happen when you are in a hurry and don’t pay attention to where you’re going.

  • Falls occur when you move too far off your center of balance. Falls account for more workplace fatalities than any other injury. In fact, falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry.

14 steps to prevent slips, trips, and falls

OSHA publishes general regulations on preventing hazards that can cause slips and falls, such as clutter, obstructing objects, and wet conditions. To prevent slips in your workplace, OSHA recommends that employers—and workers:

  • Clean up or report spills immediately
  • Don’t let grease accumulate on floors
  • Use caution on newly waxed floors and loose carpeting
  • Take short steps on slippery surfaces to keep the center of balance under you and point your feet slightly outward (penguin walk)

To prevent trips:

  • Store materials and supplies in the appropriate storage areas to keep the workplace tidy
  • Make sure you can see where you’re walking. That means not carrying loads that you can’t see over
  • Keep furniture and office equipment out of walkways
  • Properly maintain walkways and encourage employees to report hazards
  • Keep electrical and phone cords out of high-traffic areas
  • Keep work areas and walkways well lit, especially at night

To prevent falls:

  • Encourage workers to use the stairs instead of jumping off landings or loading docks
  • Repair or replace stairs or handrails that are loose or broken
  • Require employees to wear shoes with appropriate non-slip soles
  • Remind employees to use a ladder instead of standing on chairs, tables, or any equipment with wheels

The best way to reduce slips, trips, and falls in your workplace is to assess the environment, note the hazards workers may face, and develop a safety plan to address those hazards.

Thanks for reading! Please note that this content is intended for educational purposes only. As laws change regularly, you should refer to your state legislation and/or an advisor for specific legal counsel. If you’re a small business owner, learn more about workers’ compensation insurance or check your current rate in 3 minutes.

Get a quote in 3 minutes

Save up to 30% on workers' compensation for your small business.