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People and activity

Peoples’ behaviours and actions can increase risk, for example being rushed, feeling fatigued. The best workplaces design jobs to reduce or manage these factors.

Assess the risk

Jobs that pose high risks

Work that requires the following actions and behaviours will increase slips and trips risks:

  • vision is restricted – from loads, personal protective equipment, etc.
  • no hand free to grasp a rail or break a fall when on stairs
  • rushing, turning quickly, taking long strides
  • inability to pay attention and being distracted
  • long shifts with inadequate rest breaks
  • moving in crowded areas.

Other people who use the workplace

As well as workers, think who else may be at risk of slips and trips at your workplace. You need to consider other people such as customers, students, passengers, trainees, tourists, visitors, contractors, patients and/or volunteers.

The people at most risk of slips and trips include those who:

  • are elderly
  • have walking restrictions or are using aids
  • have reduced vision or reduced hearing
  • are unwell or affected by drugs/alcohol
  • are fatigued or over-tired
  • are handling loads such as trolleys, prams, children, boxes etc.
  • are distracted, e.g. by looking at their 'smart-phone' while walking
  • are unable to look at the floor/ground surface while they are walking.

Some of these people may not notice slip or trip hazards and/or may not have the agility, speed or strength to regain their balance after a small slip or trip. People most at risk are those who are least familiar with the workplace, such as visitors and new or part-time workers.

Decide on control measures

Features of well-designed jobs

Look at how jobs and tasks are designed and organised at your workplace, and check if they increase or reduce risks of slips and trips. A well designed job:

  • reduces the need for staff to manually handle very heavy or bulky loads particularly over distance or uneven surfaces
  • keeps one hand free when using steps and stairs
  • minimises pushing loads up inclines
  • minimises transporting or handling loads in wet weather
  • removes or reduces the need for people to rush,
  • allows focus on a task with minimal distractions
  • provides a suitable work-rest schedule to minimise impacts of fatigue.

Where any aspects of the job design cannot be fixed, the work environment needs extra attention (e.g. the flooring, lighting, removal of contaminants and obstacles etc.).

Training workers in how to reduce slips and trips

The best workplaces have systems to train, inform and supervise workers on:

  • the significance and impact of slips and trips risks
  • cleaning procedures relevant to their job
  • the importance of thoroughly cleaning and drying floors
  • reporting slips and trips incidents as soon as they happen
  • reporting spills or contaminants and/or tidying them up ('cleaning as you go')
  • reporting damaged or otherwise hazardous walkways as well as equipment defects
  • using and caring for safety equipment (e.g. spill kits, barriers etc.)
  • wearing and maintaining appropriate footwear
  • restrictions such as bringing food or drinks to certain areas etc.

Each worker can and has a role to actively reduce the risk of slips and trips at their workplace

Improving workplaces that are used by the public

Workplaces used or visited by the public that require special attention to avoid slips and trips include:

  • health services
  • shopping centres
  • entertainment venues
  • restaurants
  • transport services
  • education facilities
  • meeting areas
  • sporting facilities
  • parks and gardens.

Simple and inexpensive devices that assist all workplaces, and particularly those that are also used by the public, include:

  • bagging systems for wet umbrellas
  • lids or bags for takeaway drinks or food or other potential contaminants
  • paper towels or napkins (e.g. at food services)
  • dripless soap dispensers
  • providing sufficient rubbish bins, especially close to areas of rubbish generation e.g. eating areas.