Slips and trips
Slips and trips are amongst the most common causes of injury that result in time off work in New Zealand.
Slips and trips occur in almost all workplaces, with the most serious slips resulting in broken bones, soft tissue damage and heavy bruising.
They are often the initial cause of other injuries, such as falling down steps. Falls on the same level account for over 4,500 serious injuries a year in New Zealand and are the most common cause of injury resulting in a week or more off work at the University. The long-term effects of these injuries can have a significant impact on people’s wellbeing.
We all have a responsibility to prevent harmful slips and trips. This is no different from our responsibility to follow good practice in the prevention of any harm arising from work. You can play your part in working Side by Side with us - mainly by good 'housekeeping' but also by making sure slips and trips are considered in any work risk assessments, ensuring safe systems of work are in place, and reporting incidents and unsafe conditions.
What can go wrong?
Slips and trips happen in kitchens, offices, lecture theatres, laboratories, building entrances, external paths and tracks - in fact most places where we work at or move around the University.
Ways in which injuries occur include:
- Slipping on a wet or contaminated floor
- Looking at our phones rather than where we are walking
- Unmarked changes in floor levels
- Poor housekeeping – loose carpets or mats, spillages, trailing cables, boxes or bags
- Damaged flooring including stairs
- Rushing and not using stair handrails
- Cramped conditions
- Poor lighting, including glare
- Wearing inappropriate footwear.
We all have a responsibility to make sure we are safe and that where we work is safe. This means putting sensible protection in place, like using doormats at entrances and keeping workplaces tidy, and assessing work and reporting incidents, including non-injury incidents (near misses) and unsafe conditions.
When doing an assessment, think about the consequence of a slip for example, when carrying something sharp or working at any height; what might contaminate a floor and the ability to control any contamination; how many people use an area, who they are, in particular any vulnerable people; what work is being done; environmental issues, like the weather and the ability we have to control footwear.
What can we do?
- Take slips and trips seriously and understand their causes
- Believe that they are preventable
- Put in place sensible controls
- Encourage reporting online, no matter how minor, including non-injury, unsafe conditions, like damaged floors and noticing when things are being managed well
- Clean up spills
- Play our part in keeping places tidy
- Move trip hazards out of the way
- If you are given PPE, wear it
- Have safe systems of work.
Contact us if you need further help.
The following websites should also be referred to:
- WorkSafe slips and trips
- HSE cause and prevention of slips and trips
- No laughing matter (animated guidance from the European Agency for Safety and Health on preventing slips and trips).
Last Updated: Dec 2019
Next Review: Dec 2022
Approver: Associate Director, Health Safety & Wellbeing