Avoiding Slips, Trips, and Falls


We’ve all done it: tripped over an uneven sidewalk or slipped on some unseen spilled liquid. It can be embarrassing or even painful. Sometimes, these seemingly innocuous slips, trips, and falls can lead to serious injuries. It can happen at home, out on the town, or even at work. That’s what we’re going to focus on today: workplace slips, trips, and falls. How can they happen? How can we prevent them? What is the difference between a slip, a trip, and a fall?

SLIP: A loss of traction between your foot and the surface upon which you are walking or working.

You’re picturing it now: the classic banana peel prank. Unfortunately, in real life a slip is rarely funny. Watching a friend or co-worker slip and fall hard, or doing so yourself, is actually pretty painful. Slips can be caused by a number of things:

  • Leaks
  • Spills
  • Adverse weather being tracked or blown in
  • Wet leaves or pine needles
  • Recently waxed or polished floors

There are a number of things you can do to protect yourself and your fellow employees against these hazards, however:

  • Put up proper signage for wet or polished floors
  • If you see a spill, don’t leave it, CLEAN IT UP!
  • Put down carpeting or rubber matting when weather is adverse
  • Wear no-slip footwear

TRIP: Occurs when your foot hits an object with enough momentum for you to be thrown off balance.

Trips should be among the most preventable of workplace accidents, because they are almost always caused by human error. Typically, good housekeeping should keep most trip hazards at bay. Here are some potential trip hazards:

  • Uneven flooring
  • Loose rugs
  • Clutter
  • Cords pulled across walkways

As you can see, most of these are preventable. Make sure you and your employees, co-workers, and friends are safe by doing the following:

  • Fix uneven or loose flooring, or tape it down
  • NEVER leave your work area cluttered
  • Tape down any power cords you might be pulling across a walkway

FALL: Occurs when you move too far off your center of balance, typically hitting the ground from a height.

This is the big one. Slips and trips account for a lot of serious workplace injuries, but according to the National Floor Safety Institute, falls account for approximately 8 million emergency room visits every year. Here are just a few of the biggest fall factors in the workplace:

  • Improper use of climbing equipment
  • Improper placement of climbing equipment
  • Improper loading dock etiquette
  • Lack of barricades or guarding around possible fall sites and elevated work platforms

You’ll notice that three out of the four of those bullet points had the word “improper” in them. This isn’t because people don’t know how to do their jobs. It’s because people take shortcuts, whether they’re in a rush or they’re trying to be efficient. The bottom line, however, is that there are no shortcuts in safety. So here are a few tips to prevent falls in the workplace:

  • Proper use of climbing equipment (never stand on the top or second-to-top rung of a ladder, always have someone hold the ladder, etc.)
  • Proper placement of climbing equipment (never place a ladder behind a closed door, etc.)
  • Proper loading dock etiquette (do not jump up/down from loading dock)
  • Properly block off any area that may present a fall risk by using brightly colored guard rails to ensure visibility and always keeping up with guard rail maintenance. Protect your elevated work platforms and walkways from risk! Check out Folding Guard’s partitions for more info!

Slips, trips, and falls can stop any worker in his or her tracks and put them out of commission for a long time. Don’t let that worker be you, your co-worker, or your employee. Take the proper precautions to prevent these accidents and maintain a safe workplace!

Thanks for joining us for this month’s Spotlight on Safety. For more tips on how to maintain a safe work environment, check out our previous entries on the Folding Guard blog!