Controlling slips, trips and falls in sex work

Slips, trips and falls are common causes of workplace injuries. This guidance may help employers in sex work businesses control the risks of slips, trips and falls at work. The guidance may also help others who have health and safety responsibilities.


Injuries from slips, trips and falls

Slips, trips and falls can place employees, contractors, clients and others in sex work workplaces at risk of injury. The injuries from slips, trips and falls are known as musculoskeletal injuries . There is a wide range of musculoskeletal injuries and diseases. They include:

  • sprains and strains
  • back injuries
  • joint and bone injuries
  • soft-tissue injuries
  • hernias
  • chronic pain

A duty to control slips, trips and falls

The OHS Act places health and safety duties on employers and others. Employers have a duty under the OHS Act to provide and maintain a working environment for employees that is safe and without risks to health. As an employer you must fulfil this duty so far as is reasonably practicable. Under the OHS Act, your employees can include independent contractors you have engaged and employees of the independent contractors.

How to control slip, trip and fall risks

A hazard is something that can cause harm. A risk is the chance of a hazard causing harm. Harm includes injury, illness or death. The OHS Act places a duty on you as an employer to eliminate risks to health and safety. You must do this so far as is reasonably practicable.

The best way to control the risk of slips, trips and falls is to eliminate hazards that can cause them. This is best done at the design stage of the workplace. If you can’t eliminate the risk, you must minimise the risk so far as is reasonably practicable. The following guidance may help you identify hazards and control the risks of slips, trips and falls in your workplace.

Consult with employees

Consultation between employers and employees can result in a safer workplace. It's an important part of risk management.

Consultation involves:

  • sharing information
  • giving employees a reasonable opportunity to express their views
  • taking their views into account

Employers have an OHS Act duty to consult. You must consult with:

  • employees who are directly affected by matters listed in the OHS Act
  • employees who are likely to be directly affected by those matters
  • independent contractors and their employees
  • any health and safety representatives, also known as HSRs
  • labour hire providers where there are duties relating to labour hire workers

Consultation with HSRs can happen with or without employees being directly involved. If it is reasonably practicable to do so, you must give information to HSRs before you give it to employees. You must give the information to HSRs a reasonable time before you give it to employees.

Matters on which you must consult with employees, independent contractors and any HSRs include when:

  • identifying hazards
  • assessing risks associated with those hazards
  • deciding how to control risks
  • making decisions about the adequacy of facilities
  • proposing changes that may affect the health and safety of employees in relation to the workplace, the things used or the conduct of work

You should also consult when reviewing and revising risk control measures.

See WorkSafe's guidance on consultation for more information.

Use systems to control risks

OHS is an acronym for occupational health and safety. An OHS management system is a system that helps a workplace improve its health and safety outcomes. OHS management systems are also known as OHSMS.

Here are examples of OHSMS to identify hazards and control risks:

  • Have processes and procedures in place to identify hazards, assess risks and put risk control measures in place. Do this in consultation with employees and any HSRs.
  • Monitor, review and, where necessary, revise risk controls. Again, do this in consultation with employees and any HSRs.
  • Provide processes to report hazards and incidents. This helps ensure the identification and control of safety issues as soon as possible.
  • Schedule and record regular inspections and maintenance. Include all areas of the workplace and all equipment. Inspections can include, for example, walkthroughs, checklists, surveys, reviewing incident reports and talking to employees.
  • Keep a record of information, instruction, training and supervision provided to employees. Schedule regular times to discuss and review information and training requirements with employees.

OHSMS can help:

  • create safer working environments
  • reduce injuries and injury-related costs
  • improve business opportunities
  • provide a way to prove OHS performance
  • show that your business is meeting its legal requirements
  • improve the business's reputation

Using OHSMS may help you control the risk of slips and trips and falls.

Find more information about OHSMS on the WorkSafe website.

Inspect the workplace

Regular workplace inspections can help identify hazards and control risks. When inspecting the workplace, pay close attention to the work environment, including:

  • floors, stairs and lighting
  • housekeeping, including general cleanliness and cleaning methods
  • variations in conditions according to the time of day and year, for example, rainy or overcast days or differences between night and day
  • clothing and footwear worn by employees

Controlling slips

Common slip hazards

When inspecting the workplace, slip hazards to look for include the following:

  • Inappropriate floor surfaces. For example, surfaces that become slippery when wet, expanded mesh flooring or steps.
  • Rainwater or mud near doors.
  • Wet floors. For example, around showers, spas and pools and from cleaning during work hours.
  • Spills on floors. For example, soaps, lubricants, massage oils and other liquids in staff changerooms and bathrooms and client service areas.
  • Sudden changes in floor surfaces. For example, from carpeted areas to polished timber, vinyl or tiles.
  • Wet or slippery service areas. For example, surfaces affected by moisturisers or the use of foggers or snow and bubble machines that can leave residues.
  • Growths on floor surfaces. For example, moss or mould in bathrooms.
  • Inappropriate footwear. For example, wearing high-heel shoes on stairs and slippery surfaces.

Control measures to prevent slips

The following control measures may help control the risk of slips in the workplace:

  • Install floor surfaces that reduce risks of slips from liquids, grease or dust.
  • Immediately clean spills of soaps, lubricants, massage oils and other liquids.
  • Perform routine floor cleaning outside working hours.
  • Use slip-resistant products on stair treads, ramps and other walking or work surfaces.
  • Install handrails on steps, stairs and ramps.
  • Put anti-slip mats at entrances.
  • Check for and repair leaks. If a leak cannot be fixed immediately, restrict access to the area and put up warning signs until repairs are complete.
  • Regularly clean and maintain floor and outdoor surfaces.
  • Install suitable drainage. Ensure drainage is checked regularly and cleared when necessary.
  • Choose floor surfaces that ensure non-slip conditions from one floor surface to another.
  • Treat floor surfaces to create slip resistance.
  • Treat mould or moss-affected surfaces and control moisture and humidity to prevent regrowth.
  • Keep outdoor surfaces free of leaves, mud, clippings, paper and gravel. Remove moss, mould or slime and treat surfaces to prevent regrowth.
  • Ensure employees wear suitable footwear appropriate to the task. Encourage employees to remove high-heel shoes when traveling up or down stairs or on slippery surfaces.
  • Ensure ramp gradients do not exceed the recommended Australian Standard.

Controlling trips

Common trip hazards

When inspecting the workplace, trip hazards to look for include:

  • damaged or poorly maintained floors, including broken tiles and worn floor coverings
  • uneven or slippery floor surfaces
  • areas where spills of soaps, lubricants, massage oils and other liquids occur
  • poorly marked or unexpected changes in floor or ground levels
  • poorly maintained access routes, footpaths and garden edges
  • uneven or loose paving
  • equipment and goods stored in aisles and walkways
  • cords from computers, lighting and other electronics
  • steps and stairs, including different riser heights or tread depths
  • poor lighting, particularly on steps and stairs
  • lack of handrails on steps and stairs

Control measures to prevent trips

The following control measures may help control the risk of trips in the workplace:

  • Regularly review and maintain damaged or uneven floor surfaces.
  • Immediately clean spills of soaps, lubricants, massage oils and other liquids.
  • Regularly review and maintain external access areas, including footpaths and garden edges.
  • Provide dedicated storage areas for items such as cleaning goods, trolleys and equipment.
  • Provide adequate storage racks.
  • Do not block walkways.
  • Ensure aisles and passageways are free from clutter at all times.
  • Provide lockers or storage for personal items.
  • Ensure appropriate cleaning procedures.
  • Use slip-resistant mats.
  • Ensure slip-resistant doormats are secure or large enough to remain in place.
  • Install sufficient power points and run cords and cables along walls or within partitions.
  • Use a non-slip bullnose finish on steep or slippery steps and stairs.
  • Ensure steep stairways are only for secondary access. Ensure stairways have sturdy handrails on both sides.
  • Ensure steps and stairs have adequate foot space and even tread and riser dimensions. Ensure they have a suitable radius on the nosing or edge of step and stair treads.
  • Provide handrails on steps and stairs.
  • If lighting is inadequate on steps and stairs, increase lighting. Highlight stair nosing.
  • Ensure landings have sufficient space for doors to fully open without striking anybody.
  • Ensure employees do not carry loads by hand on stairs. If not possible, ensure the load is small and light enough to carry in one hand to the side of the body.
  • Ensure employees wear suitable footwear appropriate to the task. Encourage employees to remove high-heel shoes when traveling up or down stairs or on slippery surfaces.
  • Ensure permanent aisles, passageways and emergency exits are appropriately and clearly marked.
  • Ensure sufficient headroom for the length of aisles and walkways.
  • Inspect, repair and maintain damaged grates or covers.
  • Ensure grates or covers do not make employees alter their walking patterns to step over them.

Controlling falls under 2 metres

Employers have duties under the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 when there is a risk of a fall of more than 2 metres. See WorkSafe's guidance, A Guide to Falls Prevention.

However, falls of less than 2 metres can cause serious injuries and even death. In line with their OHS Act duties, employers have to control the risk of such falls.

The following guidance may help employers control the risk of falls of less than 2 metres.

Common fall hazards

When inspecting the workplace, fall hazards to look for include the following:

  • Inappropriate use of items as step stools. For example, using chairs and overturned crates as step stools.
  • Damaged chairs or seats.
  • Chairs with standard castors on vinyl floors.
  • Situations where it is necessary to jump or step down to lower levels.
  • Unstable or inappropriate ladders or steps.
  • Stages without clearly marked edges or safety rails.
  • Wearing high heels while providing services on sofas, beds and chairs.
  • Improper rigging of hoops, silks and other aerial equipment.

Control measures to prevent falls

The following control measures may help control the risk of falls in the workplace:

  • Regularly inspect chairs. Remove and replace or repair damaged chairs.
  • Use chairs with standard castors only on carpeted surfaces. Castors roll easily on linoleum and similar surfaces and can slip from under a person as they sit down. For linoleum and similar floor surfaces, use chairs with glides.
  • Ensure ladders and steps are stable or secured when in use.
  • Ensure ladders or steps are well maintained. Ensure they have non-slip feet and treads in good condition.
  • Ensure employees use ladders correctly. Provide the information, instruction, training and supervision necessary for employees to work safely and without risks to health.
  • Clearly define the edges of stages or provide safety rails.
  • Where possible, ensure employees avoid high heels when working on sofas, beds or chairs.
  • Ensure the correct set-up and use of equipment, in line with the manufacturer’s instructions.

Helping someone who has fallen

People are at risk of injury when manually helping someone who has fallen. WorkSafe has guidance to help control risks when helping someone after they have had a fall.

Environmental conditions can increase risks

Consider whether environmental conditions increase the risk of slips, trips or falls. Environmental conditions include:

  • heat and cold
  • wind and rain
  • humidity
  • slippery and uneven floor surfaces
  • obstructions
  • poor lighting
  • vibration

Common environmental conditions hazards

Common environmental conditions hazards in the workplace include:

  • poorly lit work areas and walkways
  • sudden changes in lighting levels between areas
  • badly directed lighting
  • working in hot, cold or humid conditions

Control measures

The following control measures may help control the risk of slips and trips and falls:

  • Use appropriate lighting levels.
  • Provide graduated lighting between areas.
  • Direct lighting so it does not create shadows on steps, stairs or other walking surfaces.
  • Ensure people are not exposed to environments that may affect behaviour or performance. For example, you may have employees with medical conditions that become worse in heat and humidity. To reduce risks, you should provide equipment that reduces heat and humidity. You should also ensure environmental conditions are monitored before and during employees' shifts.

Checklist for employers

WorkSafe has a checklist to help control the risk of trips, slips and falls. Print, complete and keep a copy of the checklist for your records. A WorkSafe inspector may ask to see this document when inspecting the workplace.

Further information

More information about slips, trips and falls is available on the WorkSafe website.

WorkSafe Advisory Service

WorkSafe's advisory service is available between 7:30am and 6:30pm Monday to Friday. If you need more support, you can also contact WorkSafe using the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) or the National Relay Service.

1800 136 089 More contact options

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