Preventing Slips, Trips, and Falls at Your School

Your school is a busy place: Teachers navigate bustling halls, students rush to the cafeteria, custodians replace light bulbs, parents arrive for sporting events, and more. With this much activity, it’s likely that on some occasions, individuals may slip, trip, or fall on your property. These slips, trips, and falls can lead to injuries and costly liability claims for your school. Use this checklist with all of your employees, from your risk manager and department heads to your teachers and maintenance staff, to reduce your exposure and better protect your students, faculty, and visitors while on school grounds.

Classrooms, Hallways, and Common Areas

  • Keep aisles and walkways clear of items such as backpacks, electrical cords, and boxes.
  • Inspect chairs and desks for defects and damage and replace if needed.
  • Keep storage areas organized and floors uncluttered for easy access.
  • Limit use of high-level storage areas that are difficult to reach to minimize ladder use and risks of falls. If needed, provide approved ladders or request assistance from your maintenance staff to access these areas.
  • Pick up and clean all classrooms, including shop and art rooms, stage areas, and labs, at the end of each day.
  • Use non-slip floor matting at all external entrances. Inspect mats regularly and replace old or worn mats as needed.
  • Keep stairwells clear and promptly repair or replace damaged stairs, treading, handrails, and lights.

Cafeteria and Kitchen

  • Use non-slip mats in areas prone to water or other spills (such as around sinks, food preparation tables, or dishwashers).
  • Highlight any elevation changes, including steps, with contrasting colors of flooring/carpet, warning tape, etc.
  • Keep freezers and walk-in coolers free of ice and standing water.
  • Use appropriate methods for cleaning and degreasing floors, following manufacturers’ usage instructions.
  • Use appropriate covers on floor drains and other openings so they are flush with the floor.

Outdoor Premises

  • Perform ongoing, preventative inspection, housekeeping, and sidewalks, and surrounding areas.
  • Encourage the use of sidewalks and designated walkways.
  • Highlight changes in elevation, such as curbs or stairs, with colored paint.
  • Instruct employees, students, and visitors as to which entrances to use, especially at night and during inclement weather.
  • Install outdoor lighting if the facility is used at night.
  • Develop guidelines for including nighttime shifts if appropriate.
  • Have adequate amounts of salt and deicers available and regularly inspect snow blowers, plows, and other removal equipment to confirm they are in good condition.

Building and Transportation Maintenance Staff Training

  • Provide job-specific training to help employees understand the causes of slips, trips, and falls and how to prevent them. For example, may encounter different exposures if they wash buses than if they replace ceiling panels.
  • Train employees on proper housekeeping and spill cleanup. Keep needed supplies and equipment readily available.
  • Establish a ladder policy, including the proper way to use ladders, what types are approved, and where they are stored. Prohibit the use of makeshift ladders.
  • Require employees to wear slip-resistant footwear.

As part of your slips, trips, and falls prevention program, it’s important to train staff on notification procedures if they do encounter spills or other unsafe conditions. Encourage the timely reporting of these situations, as well as any incidents and resulting injuries that may occur. Keep track of incidents and investigate possible causes to help minimize the risk of similar situations in the future.

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The illustrations, instructions, and principles in this material are general in scope and, to the best of our knowledge, current at the time of publication. No attempt has been made to interpret any referenced codes, standards, or regulations nor to identify all potential risks or requirements.