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Case Study

Slips and Trips in the NHS - the Impact of Cleaning Regimes

The Client


The Problem

Slips and trips resulting in falls are the most common cause of major injuries in all workplaces in Great Britain and the second biggest cause of over 3 day injuries. Over 2000 injuries to employees in healthcare, attributed to slips and trips, are reported each year. Many patients and visitors also receive injuries. The costs of these accidents can be considerable, with one strategic health authority reporting costs of £92,000 per year, per trust.

What We Did

HSL undertook research to determine the impact of hospital cleaning regimes on the rates of slips, trips and falls. In particular we wanted to assess:

  • Current levels of awareness of the impact of cleaning on slips and trips held by health and safety, housekeeping, supervisory and cleaning staff;
  • Factors that impact on the number of slip and trip accidents;
  • How cleaning procedures, techniques and materials are specified and monitored;
  • Interventions that could help reduce the number of slip and trip accidents in hospitals.


We found that cleaning teams are generally aware that their work has the potential to impact on the number of slip and trip accidents. It is believed that the two main slip and trip hazards that cleaning teams create are wet floors and trailing cables. Other factors impacting on slips and trips in hospitals included

  • best practice not followed by cleaning staff;
  • public, patient and staff behaviour
  • risk assessments
  • staffing levels/time pressure
  • building design
  • weather
  • team motivation
  • damaged flooring
  • tardy reporting of spillages.

This work shows the complex factors that impact upon slips, trips and falls.

HSL expects that future work will focus around developing best practice within the NHS. Taking into account some of the factors above, this may include working with building designers, facilties management as well as patient groups, highlighting the potentially diverse range of clients that HSL has.

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