Slips, Trips and Falls

Small Farm and Gardening Safety and Health Series
Agriculture and Natural Resources
S. Dee Jepsen, Associate Professor and State Safety Leader, Agricultural Safety and Health, Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering
Jeffery Suchy, Graduate Student and Lecturer, Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering

Work around the farm or in the garden often requires exposure to varied terrain, heights, uneven and slippery surfaces, uneven footing, and frequently changing environments. This combination of exposure can lead to injuries related to slips, trips, and falls resulting in head and back injuries, broken bones, cuts and lacerations, or sprained muscles, to name a few. Fortunately, many of these injuries and their causes can be eliminated with planning and work environment awareness.

General Tips to Prevent Slips, Trips and Falls

• Be aware of your environment, personal safety and the safety of others, and make adjustments to work methods.
• Do not run, even if in a hurry.
• Avoid rapid changes of direction.
• Maintain floors, pathways and walking surfaces (keep them clean, dry and free from clutter).
• Install nonslip surfaces in processing areas or areas prone to wetness.
• Wear shoes with pliable soles and low heels.
• Close drawers, cabinets, doors and closets after use.


• Clean up spills immediately.
• Use absorbent material to dry floors and reduce slipping.
• Post notification of hazards to warn others.
• Organize tools/equipment, and maintain them during and after use.


• Use handrails when climbing or descending stairs.
• Keep staircases clean and uncluttered to prevent trips.
• Avoid carrying awkward or heavy loads whenever possible.


• Use an approved ladder rather than standing on tables, chairs, buckets or other unstable platforms. A proper ladder has two side rails joined by regularly spaced crosspieces called steps, rungs or cleats, allowing for up and down movement.
• Place the bottom of extension ladders away from the wall a distance of 1 foot for every 4 feet of the height between the base of the wall and the point where the ladder contacts the wall.
• Never use the top step of the ladder as a step or seat. Check the ladder feet to see if they sit flat against the ground and grip the floor to provide a stable base.
• If an extension ladder is used to access a roof or a second floor, make sure the top of the ladder extends 36 inches beyond the top point of contact on the roof. Do not overextend an extension ladder. Lock it in place before climbing. Keep metal extension ladders away from electrical wires.


• Jepsen, S. Dee, Kent McGuire, and Danielle Poland. Secondary Injury Prevention: Walking and Working Surfaces, AEX-981.3-10. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Extension, 2010. 
• “Fall Prevention in the Agriculture Sector.” Worksafe Victoria, 1st edition (2006), Victorian Workcover Authority. Accessed 2015.

Reviewer: Kent McGuire, CFAES Safety and Health Coordinator, Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering