Hospital slips trips and falls prevention and management policy

Hospital Slips, Trips and Falls Prevention and Management Policy: The role of effective fluid management

Having an effective Slips, Trips and Falls Prevention and Management Policy is important for any hospital.

Every year, over 2000 of these incidents are reported nationally by the NHS to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

This is perhaps not surprising given that slips, trips and falls are the most common cause of serious injuries in the UK workplace.

The most recent Health and Safety at Work report revealed that in 2022-23, 32% of reported cases of non-fatal workplace injuries were made up of slips, trips and falls on the same level, which is the equivalent of 179,520 people.(1)

What’s more, the HSE estimates that 95% of all slips, trips and falls on the same level at work are serious incidents that result in broken bones.(2)

The Impact of Healthcare Worker Injuries

When a member of the operating theatre team or other hospital staff are seriously injured from a slip, trip or fall, there can be a number of negative consequences:

  • The employee can be left with injuries that leave them unable to do their job for a period of time or even permanently,
  • They may have to claim compensation for the impact that their injury has had on them,
  • As an important member of staff, the hospital will lose their skills and expertise and have to try and find a temporary or permanent replacement,
  • Short-staffing problems can then lead to additional stress on other team members and hamper department efficiency,
  • If the injury is caused in theatres, the patient’s operation may have to be cancelled and rearranged, negatively impacting on patient care and increasing theatre costs.

Creating a safe working environment

The solution is to create a safe workplace by identifying all potential slip, trip and fall hazards, then assessing and managing those risks.

By creating an effective Slips, Trips and Falls Prevention and Management Policy that encompasses pro-active management, good housekeeping and relevant staff training, hospitals can see a significant reduction in these kinds of accidents.

Not only is this a healthy policy to adopt for hospital staff, NHS Trusts and private hospitals are also required by the Workplace (Health, Safety, and Welfare) Regulations 1992 to have suitable floors that are in good condition and free from obstructions.

In busy operating theatres this can be a particular challenge, as there tends to be quite a lot of people moving about in a restricted area where pools of irrigation and bodily fluids have spilled on the floor.

However, there are ways that you can avoid slips from spills and minimise the risk of trips and falls caused by the products designed to remove them.

 6 tips to avoid slips, trips and falls in the operating theatre

  1. Avoid suction devices that move about the room

Some fluid management solutions remove spills from the theatre floor by moving over spills and sucking them up. Whilst that can be fine if they remain in the same place, if they get moved around the theatre floor, team members may not be looking out for them, so some nasty trips and falls can happen.

  1. Avoid suction devices with tubes and cables

Some spill management solutions for operating theatres come with lots of tubes and cables that run across the operating theatre floor. Even if taped down, these can come loose and risk tripping up theatre staff, so if possible try to find a solution that does not involve these sort of hazards.

  1. Choose a low-profile absorbent floor mat

An absorbent floor mat, such as the DryMax XL has a low profile, minimising the risk of trips, whilst still providing up to 2 litres of fluid absorption. Particularly suitable for scrub rooms, it provides a good level of absorbency to capture any spills while staff are scrubbing up. This in turn reduces the risk of slips when working in the scrub room area. Click here to find out more.

  1. Choose an anti-skid mat

Make sure that any walkable absorbent mats you use in your scrub rooms and operating theatres are anti-skid and non-slip.

For example the DryMax XL floor mat and the DryMax Combimat both have blue-backed sections that are anti-skid when placed on a dry surface.

The DryMax Combimat is specially designed to absorb large volumes of fluid in one section: up to 13 litres of water or 5 litres of saline. This section can be folded over the surgeon’s feet in wet procedures and turns all fluid to gel to ensure their feet stay dry.

At the same time, the low-profile anti-skid section can be walked on or have a stool placed on it, without any risk of slipping. To find out more about the DryMax Combimat, click here.

  1. Choose a superabsorbent mat

If you are involved with wet procedures that involve a lot of fluid spills, such as knee arthroscopies, then choose a superabsorbent mat that rapidly turns fluid to gel to lock it in.

Not only will this reduce the risk of slips in the operating theatre, it will also mean there will be hardly any mopping to do post-procedure, ensuring quicker turnaround time too. What’s more, there will be less risk of drips and cross-infection when transferring the mats to clinical waste.

As a superabsorbent mat, such as the T-Mat, can absorb up to 8.5 litres of water, this does mean that the mat will bulk up, so you would need to place it away from where the surgeon is standing. However, even if placed adjacent to the spill, the T-Mat will suck up the puddle through capillary action, so placement of the mat can be flexible. To find out more about the T-Mat click here.

  1. Remember Good Housekeeping

If spills do occur that cannot be absorbed or sucked up from the operating theatre floor or scrub room, ensure that they are mopped and dried carefully to avoid the risk of slips and falls. Tidy away any trip hazards and be sure to follow your Slips, Trips and Falls Prevention and Management Policy at all times.

Interested in free mat samples?

If you would like to try any of the absorbent floor mats mentioned above just call 0333 015 4345 or email us at and we will happily send some samples out for your hospital to trial.


(1) Health and safety statistics 2022 (
(2) Why does it matter – Slips and trips – HSE