What about slips and trips?

Slips and trips cause three-quarters of all serious injuries in the catering industry, but they are not inevitable. Under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, your employer must ensure that floors are not pot-holed or uneven, and that they do not become slippery or obstructed.

Your employer can keep floors safe by:

  • keeping them dry, especially around dishwashing and frying areas;
  • installing good ventilation so that steam and greasy vapour does not condense on floors;
  • keeping lids on pots, having lips around tables and bunds (dams) around equipment;
  • installing rough, 'non-slip' flooring;
  • making sure floors are in good condition, well-lit and free from obstructions;
  • giving you suitable shoes; and
  • training and supervising you properly.

The Shattered Lives campaign on slips, trips and falls, run by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)includes the following advice for employers in the hospitality and catering industry:

  • Carrying hot oil: Emptying oil from deep fat fryers can be difficult. Make sure you and your staff follow the manufacturer’s instructions to do this work safely.
  • Food spills: Food or cooking spills are one of the main causes of slips in kitchens. Clean up any spilt substance that could cause a hazard. Take a look in your workplace and see if you can improve how you work.
  • Water overflows or leaks: An overflowing sink or a leak that causes water to drip onto the floor can create a serious slip hazard, especially on a smooth floor. Stop it from getting onto the floor in the first place: turn off taps and fix leaks quickly. Use drip trays or something similar as a temporary measure.
  • Floors in poor condition: It's easy to trip on damaged floors. If you spot an area of damage, arrange for it to be fixed straight away – don't put off repairs. As a temporary measure, highlight the damaged area, report it and where possible keep staff away.
  • Trip hazards: An unexpected obstacle in your path can cause a serious trip and fall. People need a clear space to work, so make sure boxes, bags, cables and other obstacles aren't left hanging around. Storage should always be provided for incoming deliveries and bags.
  • Cleaning: Most slips happen on wet or dirty floors, so anything that gets onto the floor needs to be removed quickly and effectively. Ensure cleaning happens at the right time and is carried out in the correct manner using the right products and equipment for the job.

See the HSE's Shattered Lives campaign webpages for more information.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.