Don’t Get Tripped Up

By Linda Jackson on 23 June 2020

Health and safety has become a big deal in the food industry since the start of the COVID 19 pandemic. And rightly so. For many of us, we have had to dust off the safety file and really put in a lot of effort to ensure we are compliant.

While we may be really focussed in physical distancing and wearing of masks, it is also important to remember that preventing slips and falls is a safety issue we cannot afford to neglect. Wet floors and spills are a daily occurrence in the food industry. Although something as simple as a slip or trip may not seems nearly as risky as the COVID 19 pandemic, all accidents can cause lost time and injury to the employee. And you really don’t need those headaches right now.

The 6 reasons why people fall

In a study conducted on the reasons for slips and trips in the food industry, the following common factors were highlighted:

1) Working Practices

Clusters of slip accidents often occur where the floor seems satisfactory. These slips may be the result of an action that operatives do as a routine part of their work leaning or stretching to reach something for example. Where practicable modifying the procedures can reduce the frequency of slips.

2) Engineering

Some slip black spots are often linked to contamination - products or materials falling on to the floor. While some spillage may be inevitable, where it is excessive an engineering solution may offer an effective remedy.

3) Floor Design

Free draining floors may not always do so. Spillages containing fine animal and vegetable matter can stop floors from draining freely. Even steeply sloped floors can become covered with a film of debris, making them slippery. Pushing racks or bins in these conditions increases the likelihood of an accident. The reduction of gradients and simpler fall patterns can produce a safer environment.

4) Footwear

The hardness of shoe-sole rubber and the tread pattern affects traction. Footwear should be regularly cleaned and replaced as required.

5) Cleaning

No matter how rough the floor, if it is not cleaned it will become slippery.

6) Floor finishes

The food industry is hard on floors. They should be non-porous and easy to clean. They must survive heavy traffic, high temperatures, fats and organic acids as well as the cleaning regime. The floor finish also needs to be extremely durable.

Your “prevent a fall” checklist

Use this as your audit checklist when you walk around the plant to ensure you are minimised slips and trips

  • Keep floors clean and dry.
  • Provide warning signs for wet floor areas
  • Where wet processes are used, maintain drainage and provide false floors, platforms, mats or other dry standing places where practicable, or provide appropriate waterproof footgear
  • Keep all places of employment clean and orderly and in a sanitary condition.
  • Keep aisles and passageways clear and in good repair, with no obstruction across or in aisles that could create a hazard
  • Provide floor plugs for equipment, so power cords need not run across pathways.
  • Keep exits free from obstruction. Access to exits must remain clear of obstructions at all times
  • Use only properly maintained ladders to reach items. Do not use stools, chairs or boxes as substitutes for ladders.
  • Instruct workers to use the handrail on stairs, to avoid undue speed, and to maintain an unobstructed view of the stairs ahead of them, even if that means requesting help to manage a bulky load.
  • Eliminate uneven floor surfaces.


Making sure your floors are constructed and maintained correctly is key. Ensuring the correct practices are in use is the next step to avoiding slips and trips. So don’t get tripped up!