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How to keep your high street premises safe from slips and trips

Slips and trips are one of the most common types of liability claims, and as a business owner, it is vital to keep your premises safe and secure. It only takes a split second or a lapse in attention for a customer or an employee to go head over heels and land you with a liability claim.

A person taking a tumble from a stumble could result in a serious injury. A slip and trip could cause bruising, sprains, muscle pulls or tears, broken bones or worse. With some extra care and attention, some slips and trips could easily be avoided. We have put together some handy hints to help prevent slip-ups and people tripping while on your premises.

1. Identify the slip and trip risk

Risks are everywhere. Some risks are easier to spot than others, and sometimes a risk doesn’t come to light until after the fact. It’s your job as a business owner to spot as many potential risks as possible and find solutions to help reduce those risks from happening.

2. Check the floors for hazards

If you want to find potential slips and trips, then it’s time to check the floors. Make a note of anything you spot or could pose a threat. For example, spilt liquids are a frequent cause of slips and it’s not just obvious contenders such as grease, oil or soap that can cause a trip or a fall, as water can be just as dangerous.

It’s not just the spills or slippery surfaces, but floors themselves could be broken, uneven or worn, resulting in a trip hazard.

Keep your eyes peeled for these potential slip and trip hazards:

  • Wet or polished floors
  • Food or liquid spills creating a slippery floor
  • Worn or frayed carpets
  • Uneven flooring
  • Different types of flooring adjacent to each other
  • Flooring that is in poor condition
  • Chipped or cracked tiles
  • Slippery floors in walk-in fridges and freezers
  • Discarded packaging from stocking shelves
  • Trailing wires or other hazards

3. Don’t block stairs, walkways, aisles and corridors

It’s a good idea not to leave things lying around for people to trip over, but it does happen. Surprisingly people don’t see the box left in the middle of the aisle or walkway because their focus is elsewhere. Make sure you regularly check stairs, aisles, walkways, corridors and doorways for potential trip hazards. Check steps and stairs and ensure they are not wobbly or loose and are clearly indicated, and all furniture and fittings should be secure and well-anchored without sharp and jagged edges.

Items such as stock, trolleys, cleaning equipment like brooms, mops and buckets, should be kept to the side or kept stored away properly when not in use.

Mind your step with these trip hazards:

  • Exposed wiring and cabling
  • Sharp edges
  • Boxes and packaging lying around
  • Shop floor fittings
  • Badly built or poorly designed staircases
  • Hidden or less visible steps or slopes
  • Obstructed stairs, aisles, walkways and corridors

4. Take action and don’t take risk

Now that you have identified those risks take action and don’t ignore them. You need to put in preventative measures to help reduce the chance of a slip or trip incident from occurring. It is not only down to you but also your staff to do their bit by being vigilant and maintaining proper training.

Get into the habit of cleaning as you go, tidying up after yourself, using the correct warning signs and replace any broken flooring or steps. Make sure to inform customers and staff of any potential hazards immediately and don’t make the assumption somebody else will do it.

Here are a few things you can do to reduce slips and trips:

  • Routinely check for hazards
  • Install non-slip flooring and carpeting
  • Clean and clear up spills immediately
  • Secure all mats and carpets
  • Ensure floor coverings are in a state of good repair
  • Provide handrails on stairs
  • Use high-traction treads on stairs
  • Pick up dropped items and clutter
  • Install good and bright lighting for low lit areas
  • Replace or fix any broken flooring or steps

5. What to do in the event of an accident?

Despite the best of intentions, accidents and near misses can still happen. It’s important to handle the situation quickly and sensitively. Your number one concern should always be the injured party making sure their needs are met, be it medical assistance or just helping them to their feet. Falling in public might hurt physically but could also be embarrassing so always deal with the situation in a sensitive manner. And of course, immediately do what you can to stop or reduce the hazard from happening again so that no one else is hurt.

If a slip or trip does occur, you must:

  • Make sure it is recorded in your Accident Book
  • Take photos of the scene
  • Take the details of any witnesses to the incident
  • If CCTV is available, retain the footage for further investigation
  • Assist and support with medical requirements needed

6. Perform a regular risk assessment

One way to help you identify and reduce risks is to regularly perform a risk assessment, giving you a good idea of the different types of risks that could occur and how to implement preventable measures to reduce them. Lucky for you, we have created an in-depth risk assessment guide, jam-packed full of useful information, common types of risks and usable solutions to keep your business a safer place.

Download our Risk Assessment for Shops


Speaking from experience, at The Retail Mutual, we know the impact a public or employers’ liability claim can have on you and your business. We have dealt with claims against our Members and have seen final settlements reaching and exceeding as high as £27,000. As a business owner, you must do everything within your power to keep your customers and staff safe. However, even putting the right procedures in place to reduce risk, accidents still and can happen. It is vital that you act quickly when any risks are identified and that your employees are trained to do the same. Ensure all training records are logged, signed, and dated. Taking extra precautions, being aware of dangers, and responding quickly to potential risks can help reduce the likelihood of your customers and employees’ sustaining injuries, which is good for you, good for your customers and employees, and ultimately good for business.

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