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News and Insight

A useful guide to reducing slip and trip liability this winter

There are more slip and trip accidents during the autumn and winter seasons for a number of reasons: there is less daylight, leaves fall onto paths and become wet and slippery and cold weather spells cause ice and snow to build up on paths. There are effective actions that you can take to reduce the risk of a slip or trip. Regardless of the size of your setting, always ensure that regularly used walkways are properly treated.

Here are some of the key points to look at: lighting, wet and decaying leaves, rain, ice, frost and snow.


Check if there is enough lighting around your setting for you, your colleagues and the children in your care to be able to see and avoid hazards that might be on the ground. The easiest way to be sure is to ask your staff if they think it's clear enough.

Another way is to shadow your colleagues or children for a couple of days, walk the main internal and external routes that they use throughout their day. It is important to do this both inside and outside of the setting, as the effect of light changes during the day. If you can’t see hazards on the ground you will need to improve the lighting (e.g. new lights or changing the type of bulb).

Wet and decaying leaves

Fallen leaves that become wet or have started to decay can create slip risks in two ways, they hide any hazard that may be on the path or they themselves create a slip risk.

Put in place a procedure for removing leaves at regular intervals; you might even consider removing the offending bushes or trees altogether.


When fitting external paved areas ensure that the material used will be slip resistant when wet.

Discourage people from taking shortcuts over grass or dirt which are likely to become slippery when wet. Consider converting existing shortcuts into proper paths.

On new sites, before laying paths, think about how pedestrians are likely to move around the site. Putting the path in the right place from the start may save you money in the long term.

Many slip accidents happen at building entrances as people entering the building walk in rainwater. Fitting canopies of a good size over building entrances and in the right position can help to prevent this.

If a canopy is not a possibility, consider installing large, absorbent mats or even changing the entrance flooring to one which is non-slip.

Ice, frost and snow

Identify the outdoor areas used by pedestrians most likely to be affected by ice, for example: - building entrances, car parks, pedestrian walkways, shortcuts, sloped areas and areas constantly in the shade or wet.

Monitor the temperature, as prevention is key.

You need to take action whenever freezing temperatures are forecast. Keep up to date by visiting a weather service site such as the Met Office or Highways England.

There are also signs on the market that will automatically display warning messages when temperatures reach 5°c and below.

Put a procedure in place to prevent an icy surface forming and/or keep people off the slippery surface;

- Use grit or a similar substance on areas prone to be slippery in frosty, icy conditions;

- Consider covering walkways e.g. by an arbour high enough for people to walk through, or use an insulating material on smaller areas overnight;

- Divert pedestrians to less slippery walkways and barrier off existing ones.

If warning cones are used, remember to remove them once the hazard has passed or they will eventually be ignored.


Bonus tip – the ‘Winter 3’

Slips in the winter are mostly caused by a slippery surface plus wearing the wrong footwear, and simple distraction. It might be a good idea to display this warning.

Take the following three simple steps to ensure extra precaution in the cold weather:

1. Change the surface

Spread sand or salt on icy surfaces on walkways, work areas and steps. Consider putting the activity off until conditions improve if the weather is really bad. Keep steps and equipment clean and dry. Take the time to clean off mud, snow and ice.

2. Change your shoes

Wear shoes or boots with a flat or low heel, a slip-resistant sole to reduce slipping hazards and a good tread that helps to grip the surface.

3. Change your walk

Walk slowly and carefully, do not run in rain or snow. Be especially careful when using steps.

Thank you to our underwriters Covea Insurance for providing this content.

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