Slippery Surfaces Safeguards to Control Slips (Trips and Falls)

People generally slip on contaminated surfaces or contaminated shoes, not clean dry surfaces

A slip on the level at work typically has three key factors

Slip factors

Slips account for about half of all slips, trips and falls

Slip resistance tests and pedestrian surface treatments are available from private companies in Ireland

Identify Slippery Surfaces

Slip factor embedded dirt

    • Cleaning adding a residue of cleaning material
    • Installation of the surface
    • Impact of contamination
    • Wear and tear
  • Review the risk assessment and take corrective action if required

Operational Controls to Reduce Slips

Operational controls to improve slip resistance could include the following items listed in no particular order.

Part E Fall Risk Marking option 1 

  • Signs should only be used where hazards cannot be avoided or adequately reduced

Structural Changes to Improve Slip Resistance

Slip resistance tests and pedestrian surface treatments are available from private companies in Ireland.

Regulation 9 of the General Application Regulations says that floors should, so far as is reasonably practicable, be not slippery. People generally slip on wet surfaces or wet shoes, not clean dry surfaces.

Structural controls to improve slip resistance could include the following items listed in no particular order.

  • Experts report that many floors original slip resistance can be restored with effective cleaning
  • Resurface the floor with a material that provides a low slip risk

Slip factor floor 

  • Treat the floor surface to improve slip resistance
  • Use an abrasive technique ("Blasting", as precisely defined in Regulation 215, is strictly controlled by the 2016 Amendment Regulations)
  • Acid etch the floor surface
  • Use an anti-slip floor coating
  • Use anti-slip strips/ patches where appropriate. These need to be monitored and replaced when worn
  • Apply anti-slip film to glass floors
  • Provide drainage, especially for areas where water may pool

To check improvement, one can measure slip-resistance before and after, and monitor periodically to ensure continued slip-resistance 

Cleanability of Slip Resistant Floors

In an Investigation of slip resistance and the hygienic cleaning of floors in hospital settings (35-pages, published 2011), HSL UK concluded

  • The ability to clean a typical hospital floor to a hygienic standard is not influenced by the slip resistance”, and
  • cleanability ... should not be a barrier to the use of slip resistant flooring in foreseeably wet or contaminated work areas

Slippery Surface Case Studies

HSL advise about an abattoir that reduced slips costs from £207,800 to £136,000 over three years by “clear” floor specifications, “matched” footwear, monitoring and removal of chequer plate.

The HSE UK provides useful advice on improving slip resistance on their website. The advice on acid-etching (and hydrofluoric acid) is important. HSE UK has a wide range of case studies including

  • Housekeeping and cleaning regimes
  • Effective matting systems
  • Design of workplace and work activities
  • Maintenance of plant and the work environment
  • Effective training and supervision
  • Working together to solve the problem

The Napo animated video "Shining example" (1 minute, 8 seconds) shows the problem with choosing a floor surface based solely on how it looks