Falls are an issue disproportionately affecting older people who are at increased risk of falls and injury. This protocol describes a pilot study investigating shock-absorbing flooring for fall-related injuries in wards for older people. Objectives To inform future research by evaluating fall-related injuries on the intervention and existing flooring, assessing the sustainability of the flooring in ward environments, estimating the cost-effectiveness of the floor and assessing how the floor affects patients and other users. Design This study uses mixed methods: a pilot cluster randomised controlled trial, observation via mechanical testing and interviews. Eight participating wards (clusters) are randomised using a computer-generated list. No blinding is incorporated into the study. Each site has a baseline period of approximately 6 months. Then, four sites receive the intervention floor, while four continue using standard floors. Sites are then followed up for approximately 1 year. Participants Any person admitted to a bed in the 'study area' of a participating ward can be entered into the trial. Orientated patients, visitors and any hospital staff who use the floor in a study area are eligible for inclusion in an interview.Intervention An 8.3 mm thick vinyl floor covering with polyvinyl chloride foam backing (Tarkett Omnisports EXCEL). Outcomes The primary outcome is fall-related injuries. Severity of injuries, falls, cost-effectiveness, user views and mechanical performance (shock absorbency and slip resistance) are also being assessed.Trial registration ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT00817869;UKCRN ID: 5735.