Slippery Surfaces Safeguards to Control Slips (Trips and Falls)

People generally slip on wet surfaces or wet shoes, not clean dry surfaces.

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

  • Check if the surface is associated with slips – use the HSA's Mapping tool
  • Ask staff if the surface feels slippery underfoot, especially when wet
    • Note that this check should not be carried out wearing slip-resistant footwear
  • Look for information on stated slip resistance from the supplier
  • Look for information on stated slip resistance in the Construction Regulations 2013 safety file
  • See if the surface is regarded as slippery, especially when wet. There are several sources of information including
  • Measure the actual slip resistance of the pedestrian surface on site now. Consultants can measure slip resistance and some slip resistance testing machines can be hired for use. The actual slip resistance can vary from the stated slip resistance for many reasons including,
    • Cleaning failing to remove contamination
    • 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.

Slippery surfaces

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

  • Repeat risk assessment using the Mapping tool
  • Resurface the floor with a material that provides a low slip risk
    • Treat the floor surface with an abrasive technique to improve slip resistance
    • Treat surface of floor with anti-slip floor coating to give it a low slip risk
    • Acid etch the floor surface
    • 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
    • Replace floor with a drain and grille, e.g. at urinals, washing stations
  • Provide a covered walkway to keep surface rain off
  • Reduce gradient and provide a handrail on slopes

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