Simply safety - Correct cleaning procedures can cut risk of slips in the retail and leisure sector

Article date: 9 March 2011

Spring may be coming, but Aviva is warning those responsible for managing premises to be aware of the continuing risk of slips on floors made wet by rainwater or spillages.

As part of Aviva’s ongoing Simply Safety campaign, the advice is targeted at the retail and leisure sector, where more than a fifth of all major injuries caused by slip or trip accidents at work take place, according to the latest HSE statistics1.

Phil Grace, liability risk manager at Aviva, said: “As we say goodbye to the ice and snow it is important to remember that the risk of slips and trips remains. It is particularly important for the retail and leisure industry where more than 2,000 people working in the sector were badly injured in a slip or trip at work in 2008/092.

“Introducing just a few simple and low cost measures can cut the risk of slips and trips resulting in serious injury to staff and members of the public.

“With 90% of slips occurring when the floor is wet because of water or spillages of food, drink or other substances3, proper cleaning processes are essential.

“A mop and bucket might remove the sticky residue of a split drink, but they will not dry a shiny tiled floor. In such cases, use a dry, absorbent cloth or paper to remove all traces of moisture.

“All spills should be clearly marked until they can be cleaned and appropriate matting may be required to ensure rainwater is not trampled through premises. Matting is also vital in reducing the risks at fresh food counters where dropped items such as grapes or leaves can pose a serious hazard.”

“In a recent incident recorded by the HSE, a shop assistant was awarded £200,000 for injuries she suffered when she slipped on cream split by a customer. Cleaners had mopped the original spillage but the worker fell because the floor had been left greasy4.”

Those managing premises are advised to ensure that suitable and sufficient housekeeping procedures are in place. Any obstacles should be removed from walkways and any exposed cables that have to cross walkways should be covered.  As a last resort, floor surfaces should be assessed and consideration given to laying a more slip resistant floor with higher surface roughness.

Grace continued: “Business owners should conduct a thorough risk assessment. Firstly, look for slip and trip hazards, decide who might slip or trip and how, consider the risks and if there are suitable controls in place. Always record the findings and if changes need to be made, make them. Inspections should take place on a regular basis to ensure all surfaces are free from slip or trip hazards. Systems should be in place to ensure that spills are identified or reported and cleaned up immediately.

“If an accident does happen, gather as much information as possible about the incident. Collect details such as the injured person’s details, the nature of the injury they have suffered, the weather conditions, the state of the floor and the cleaning regime. This will prove invaluable if a claim is made at some point in the future and can be used to help minimise risk in the future.”

Failure to implement proper health and safety measures can result in legal action which can be extremely costly for businesses. In one example reported by the HSE, a leading supermarket chain was recently fined £12,000 after installing unsafe flooring. The supermarket made the decision to use terrazzo tiles in its food preparation areas in its new store, despite a number of previous slipping accidents on other sites5.

Grace concluded: “As this example shows, those managing premises need to take health and safety seriously. Failure to do so can have devastating consequences both from a cost and a reputation perspective.”

To download the Simply Safety factsheet visit:


For further information, please contact:
Jenny Mason at Staniforth on 0161 919 8035 / 07709 347953
Sally Leeman at Aviva on 01603 684225 / 07789 27067

1 Figures taken from Standard Industrial Classification Data, with the ‘retail and leisure’ sector classed as including ‘food products and beverages’, ‘hotels and restaurants’, ‘retail trade’ and ‘recreational, cultural and sporting activities’.

2 See reference 1





Notes to editors

Aviva is one of the world's largest insurance groups* with 53 million customers worldwide and 46,000 employees.

Aviva’s main activities are long-term savings, fund management and general insurance, with worldwide total sales of £45.1 billion and funds under management of £379 billion*.

In the UK, Aviva takes care of its 19.2 million customers by helping them look after their future, protecting what’s important – from their health to their homes, their cars to their business – and saving for the future.

Aviva has a 10.5%** share of the UK life and pensions market and insures one in six homes and one in ten cars in the UK. It is also one of the oldest UK insurers, with a heritage stretching back more than 300 years.

RAC, which is owned by Aviva, provides breakdown and insurance services for individuals and businesses and has around seven million customers.

Aviva is carbon neutral worldwide, and is ranked in the top 10% of socially responsible companies globally by the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index. In the UK, Aviva invested £3.8 million into local communities in 2009. Read our corporate responsibility report at

Aviva’s global Street to School programme is working in partnership with Railway Children in the UK to get children living on the streets back into education and everyday life. Find out more at

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*based on gross worldwide premiums at 31 December 2009

**Source: ABI data released August 2010

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