Slips, Trips and Falls - Same Level

A slip, trip or fall can happen unexpectedly to any member of the Western community. Same level falls can occur on relatively flat surfaces, or on ramps and stairs. These slips, trips, and falls are caused by a disruption in our normal or expected walking gait - a disruption that can result in a sudden loss of balance. There are steps we can take to identify hazards, minimize risk and reduce injuries.

Note: The information below does not include working at heights. Members of campus who have roles that require work at elevated levels, such as on ladders, the roofs of buildings and work platforms, are provided additional information and training for these specific hazards.


Prevention is the best way to avoid injuries from a same level slip or fall. Some of the items below are human controlled factors and others are environmental, but by being aware of these factors, unexpected changes in contact between your feet and a walking surface can be reduced or eliminated, helping to protect you from slips or falls.

  1. Use Handrails: Handrails on stairs and ramps are great to assist with balance when ascending and descending.
  2. Stand still to talk or text: Mobile devices are part of everyday life. Taking the time to stand still when using them will save you and your phone from a spill.
  3. Use maintained pathways when outdoors: Staying on pathways designed for foot traffic is a good choice to avoid unexpected changes in terrain.
  4. Take action: If you are aware of a hazardous condition and can safely correct it, take action to do so. Even making an unlevel rug to lie flat on a floor can help someone else. 
  5. Report issues: Unknown hazards cannot be acted on. If you can’t act on an issue, please report it to Facilities Management or your supervisor. 

Footwear selection

Selecting proper footwear is important. Appropriate safe footwear for the work environment may be part of your role with campus. You may need slip-resistant shoes or steel toed work boots. Your area of work and study might even have requirements for a closed toe shoe, such as in a laboratory. Footwear that fits properly and has a tread pattern suitable for the surface conditions, will increase comfort and help to prevent fatigue, which also improves safety.

Winter conditions or other active weather should also be a factor in your choice of footwear when arriving and leaving campus.

Spill management

Spill management is a key procedure in preventing slips trips and falls.  If a spill occurs, take steps to secure the area, mark the area of the spill, and complete cleanup as per unit procedures if it is safe to do so. Spills in laboratory areas have special procedures that may need to be followed – see Safety Topic - Spills.


Housekeeping is another key procedure in the workplace.  Keeping walking paths and floors clear and free from debris can prevent slips and trips.  Ensure that materials are stored in stable positions away from walking paths and stairways.  Secure mats, carpets, and cables so that they don’t become a trip hazard.

Sight lines and lighting 

Adequate lighting for an area and being able to see the trip and slip hazards allow you to take proactive measures to avoid the hazard or correct the problem.  

Report any issues with lighting to Facilities Management.

Moving materials and objects

Many roles on campus require handling materials or moving objects. Lifting, carrying and moving things can increase the risk of a slip or trip due to size. Please check out information on ergonomics for some helpful information and  techniques for moving items.

Winter conditions

All reasonable efforts are made to ensure that campus is safe and free from slip and fall hazards brought on by ice and snow for winter operations. Our campus is large though, making it impossible maintain all spaces simultaneously. Please consider the following strategies to help you stay upright during the winter season!

  1. Adjust your gait: Shorten your stride to keep your centre of gravity supported. Also, walk with your knees slightly bent, as locking your knees reduces your ability to adjust to a slip.
  2. Slow down: Take slow, deliberate steps and be on the lookout for icy spots. Place your whole foot down at once, shifting your weight slowly to this foot before stepping with the other foot.
  3. Balance your load: Consider wearing a backpack instead of carrying bags in your hands. Backpacks keep your load closer to your centre of gravity. Do not walk with your hands in your pockets for the same reason.
  4. Wear appropriate footwear: Footwear with a thick rubber or non-slip sole is recommended. Avoid wearing heels and footwear with minimal tread.
  5. Entering/exiting your vehicle: Take care when stepping into/out of your vehicle as you are usually off balance and on only one foot. This increases your chances of slipping.
  6. Snow-covered curbs: Exercise caution around snow-covered curbs on paths and roadways.
  7. Entering / exiting buildings: Entrance ways may be slippery – exercise caution and report any missing floor mats.

Helpful links and additional information:

Published on  and maintained in Cascade CMS.