Slips and trips continue to be the single biggest cause of workplace accidents, despite being easily averted. As seen in a recent HSE prosecution, foreseeable and preventable trips can have considerable and life-threatening consequences. 

Here’s our action plan to avoid simple mistakes that can lead to incidents, claims and financial penalties.

#1 Search for structural problems and damage

Conduct a site walk to highlight obvious trip hazards. Common pitfalls include low walls, unprotected edges, damaged floor surfaces and potholes, collapsed or recessed drains, root damage to paths, and loose carpets or soft matting. Create a prioritised maintenance plan to deal with urgent and ongoing issues, including repair works, drain covers, and barriers for low walls and exposed edges.

#2 Cut risks from your cleaning routine   

Give surfaces time to dry by scheduling daily cleaning when foot traffic is minimal, preferably after school hours. Ensure custodial staff set up ‘wet floor’ signs and inform employees they’re at work nearby.   

Always use the recommended chemicals (at the right concentration) for your floor type. Incorrect substances and dilution ratios can increase slip risks by weakening the inherent grip of flooring materials. 

#3 Prepare your site for snow and ice 

Build a robust plan for clearing snow and ice on your site, including front-footed gritting or salting of walkways. Misinformation has caused confusion over liability in recent years – but you are legally obliged to ensure people’s health and safety on your site at all times. This duty of care includes protecting them from slips and trips caused by freezing weather risks.

#4 Look out for lighting hazards

The impact of darkness is often overlooked. Make sure your safety controls protect people onsite during dark conditions, such as teachers working beyond core hours in winter and individuals attending school performances or parents’ evenings. 

Review your lighting provision, making it easy to spot trip hazards such as stairs and low walls. Be sure to conduct your lighting assessment at night, as shadows can obscure objects and present additional safety concerns. 

#5 Clean up trailing cables

It’s common to find laptop and electrical cables running from floors to desks – but this practice poses serious accident risks. Wherever possible, position cables around the room’s perimeter, out of the way of furniture. If wires must cross a walkway, use a cable guard to keep them safely in place.

#6 Clear wet leaves from your campus

In autumn and winter, school sites can be covered with layers of fallen leaves, which become extremely slippery when wet. Regularly remove rubbish and natural debris from your campus as part of a proactive clean-up rota. 

#7 Place barrier mats at every entrance

Tracking water and dirt into buildings can cause slippery walkways that are a challenge to keep clean, dry and safe. Significantly reduce risks by equipping every access point with large, good-quality barrier mats, designed to capture moisture and mud. Install the matting flush to the floor surface to prevent any further trip hazards. 

Talk through your school’s top safety challenges   

Keeping your school compliant is simpler with specialist support. Speak to a Southalls consultant about everyday H&S tasks, forward-looking safety planning and tailored staff training solutions. We’re waiting to help on safetyadvice@southalls.com or 0345 257 4015