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Protecting Your Business
Helping Prevent Slips, Trips, and Falls in the Restaurant Industry

Falls from slips and trips are among the most common hazards in the restaurant industry.  According to the National Safety Council, over 275,000 injuries and nearly 800 deaths among U.S. general industries were caused by slips, trips, and falls in 2008.1 In fact, slips, trips and falls represent the most common causes of workplace injury after motor vehicle accidents.  

Slips trips and falls can result in head injuries, back injuries, broken bones, cuts and lacerations, or sprained muscles.  In the years 2007-2008, the average workers’ compensation cost for a slip/trip/fall was $21,500.  This exceeds the average cost of other injuries by 14%!

There are many circumstances that may cause slips, trips, and falls, such as wet spots, food debris, oil and/or grease, polished floors, loose flooring or carpeting, uneven walking surfaces, clutter, and electrical cords.  Most slip, trip and fall incidents are preventable with general precautions and safety measures.

 Major factors contributing to Slips, Trips, and Falls

Wet or Slippery Surfaces: Wet or slippery surfaces are a major cause of workplace injury. Polished floors such as marble and ceramic tile can be slippery even when dry and definitely increases the potential for a slip when moisture (liquid and food spills, rain, snow and mud) is introduced. High-risk areas include around coolers/freezers, dishwashing areas, cooking areas, and doors leading to and from the kitchen where changes in floor surfaces occur.

The following are some simple ways to reduce the probability of a slip and/or fall on wet or slippery floors:

  • Install slip-resistant floor surface or use anti-skid adhesive tape in high traffic areas.
  • Use absorbent matting in entrance ways during inclement weather or in areas where walkers may pass through puddles. (Note: unanchored mats may cause slip hazards themselves. Make sure that matting lays flat and that the backing material is slip resistant.).
  • Maintain good housekeeping throughout all work areas. Utilize trash receptacles for the disposing of trash, food debris and other items which might wind up on floors.
  • Immediately clean up spills and leaks. Place caution signs to warn employees and/or patrons of slippery surfaces or other slip/trip hazards.
  • Develop written procedures to handle spills and ensure they are reported and cleaned up immediately.  Regular, frequent inspections of working and walking areas should be conducted to identify hazards which could cause slips, trips and falls.
  • Wear proper footwear for better traction on slippery surfaces.
  • Use handrails or other stable objects that you can hold on to in paths of travel.  

Changes in Elevation or Surface Texture: Changes in elevation are a major source of trip accidents. Even a change in walking surface as little as ¼ – ½ inch can be sufficient to cause a trip.

Changes in elevation may be unavoidable, but there are some simple ways to reduce accidents caused by these hazards:

  • When moving from carpet to tile or dry tile to wet tile, etc. the friction (grip) between the sole of the shoe and the floor surface lessens. Train workers to alter their strides and take shorter, slower steps.
  • Conduct periodic inspections of the property and grounds to identify and correct trip hazards; replace missing tiles and/or other flooring materials which create an uneven surface
  • Place caution signs to warn employees and/or patrons of uneven floor surfaces, elevation changes or other potential trip hazards

Insufficient Lighting:  Adequate lighting is also important in the prevention of slips and falls. Moving from light to dark areas, or vice versa can cause temporary vision problems that might be just enough to cause a person to slip on spilled liquid or trip over a misplaced object.   Always keep work areas and walkways well lit.

All workers should have a good understanding of slip, trip and fall hazards in their workplace. This understanding should be developed during new employee orientation and ongoing training sessions.  All employees play a part in maintaining good housekeeping and cleanliness. Employees should be trained to report any hazards to their supervisors and/or the people responsible for correcting unsafe conditions in the workplace.
In summary, successful control of the hazards associated with these exposures will result in a safer work place and reduce injury frequency and severity.

Woody Hill is Vice President of Loss Control at EMPLOYERS®, America’s small business insurance specialist®, which offers workers’ compensation insurance and services through Employers Insurance Company of Nevada, Employers Compensation Insurance Company, Employers Preferred Insurance Company and Employers Assurance Company.  Insurance is not offered in all jurisdictions.  For more information, please contact Woody at or visit

1National Safety Council Injury Facts 2010 Edition