Incident Lessons Learned - Slip on Stairs

Reporting hazardous conditions helps to advance a Culture of Care.

25 May 2023

During a fire alarm, an employee was evacuating a university building. As they went down the stairs they did not see a liquid substance, which turned out to be glycol, spilled on the stairs. The employee slipped, fell down a flight of stairs, and dislocated their kneecap. 

The employee immediately emailed their safety contact about the issue and reported the incident to Health, Safety and Environment. Upon investigation, it was established that the spill had also been reported to the Maintenance Desk and that cleanup steps were underway.


Slips and falls are often associated with injuries like sprains, concussions and fractures. These kinds of injuries may be debilitating and require hospitalization and rehabilitation. Fortunately in this situation, no medical aid or lost time was required.

Culture of Care

Owning your own safety and that of others is something the U of A wants all employees to showcase when they are at work (and hopefully at home too). This incident highlights the importance of reporting—both incidents like slips and falls as well as maintenance issues—so that the proper units are notified and are able to assist. Both individuals who reported were familiar with the proper channels of reporting and took appropriate steps to report, demonstrating care for their own safety and that of others.

Call to Action

Making sure a space is safe at all times can go a long way during an emergency or even just your day-to-day work. If you notice a building issue that poses a risk to you or others, or if you experience an incident like a slip or fall, take a moment to report it. 

In addition, when using the stairs, take the following safety precautions:

  • Grasp the handrail while both ascending or descending stairs.
  • Avoid carrying objects if possible. If you must carry something, use a bag or other method to ensure that your hands are free.

For more information about incidents or near misses, visit the HSE website or contact