The University of Iowa

SAFETYmatters - Slips, Trips and Falls Prevention Guidelines

Article published January 2019

Slips, trips, and falls are a major concern in any workplace.  Most of these types of incidents can be prevented with improved housekeeping, appropriate guardrails, maintenance of walking surfaces, and remaining alert to the work surroundings.

Prevention Guidelines

Weather Hazards

  • Rainy, snowy, or icy conditions create walking and working hazards because traction is reduced and surfaces become slippery. 
  • Forget about fashion when it’s icy, snowy or wet outside. Wear slip-resistant shoes that give you enough traction. Carry your nice shoes to work and put them on when you get out of the bad conditions. 
  • When the weather turns bad, slow down to reduce your chances of slipping and falling.
  • If you have concerns about unsafe conditions or snow removal in a specific area, call one of the numbers below:
    • To report a problem in a parking lot, call Parking and Transportation at 335-8312.  
    • For all other areas, call Facilities Management Work Control Center at 335-5071. 

General Housekeeping

  • Keep places of employment, passageways, storerooms, and service rooms clean, orderly and in a sanitary condition.
  • Keep floors clean and dry. If you come across a spill, try to clean it up right away. If that’s not possible, draw attention to the spill in some way so others will see it and go around. After you’ve done this, report the problem to the appropriate person so it can be cleaned up.
  • Remove items that present tripping hazards, such as mats that do not lay flat.
  • Return equipment to designated storage areas after use.
  • A piece of paper that falls to the floor doesn't pose a safety problem . . . or does it?  If it’s stepped on just right, this innocent-looking piece of paper can cause a slip as quickly as an icy sidewalk.
  • Don’t ignore small objects on the ground. The incident waiting to happen should be cleaned up immediately.

Aisles and Passageways

  • Keep aisles and passageways clear of obstructions or objects that may present a tripping hazard.
  • If work is going on in the area, ensure there is enough room in the aisle or passageway for employees to walk and for emergency egress.


  • For stairway openings, standard railings must be provided on all exposed sides except at the stairway entrance.
  • Use handrails whenever possible.
  • Don’t carry objects that block your view while using stairs.
  • Walk up and down stairs; don’t run.
  • Report loose or broken stairs or handrails.
  • Don’t use stairs/aisles as storage areas.

Open Sided Floors or Platforms - 4 Feet or More above Level

  • An open-sided floor or platform or runway that is 4 feet or more above ground level or above the adjacent floor must be guarded by a standard railing on all open sides (except where there is an entrance to a ramp, stairway, or fixed ladder).
  • If a person can pass beneath the open sides, if there is moving machinery, or if equipment or materials could fall and create a hazard, then the railing must include a toe board on each exposed side.