Accidents and injuries at work are any manager or employer’s worst nightmare. Not only do they mean a loss in the workforce temporarily but they can typically mean workers compensation and even lawsuits from customers, both of which cost money. For most employees, safety practices while on the job are things they learn in the very beginning stages of their training and continue to be updated on throughout their employment. Health and safety trainers are sure to go over evacuation routes should there be a fire, how to properly enter and exit company vehicles, how to operate various equipment or machinery in the office or facility, and much more to ensure the safety of their employers. However, there is one crucial area that is often overlooked or brought up as an afterthought, even though it is the number two leading cause of personal injuries second only to motor vehicle accidents. Slip and fall accidents are in the top five causes of workers compensation in the United States, and we’re going to discuss common areas of wet floors present across all types of facilities, and ways to reduce the danger of injuries.
What is a Slip and Fall accident?
“Slip and fall, in United States tort law, is a claim or case based on a person slipping (or tripping) and falling. It is a tort, and based on a claim that the property owner was negligent in allowing some dangerous condition to exist that caused the slip or trip.”
Slip and Fall accidents can be claimed by employees as well as customers or members of the public given access to a facility. Slip-falls are a major problem in facilities and come with a large price-tag on lives and finances. There is no limit on the amount of money a company will be responsible for if someone sustains an injury while on their premises, and these fees can include medical, legal, etc, which add up quickly.
- Over 540,000 slip-and-fall injuries requiring hospitalization occur in the United States every year
- More than 460 workplace deaths reported each year are directly related to slip-and-falls on a wet floor
- Slip-and-falls kill more workers than all other workplace accidents combined
- The annual direct cost of disabling injuries on the job due to slip-and-fall related accidents is over $11 billion
- The average cost from a slip and fall is $22,800 per accident
Common Areas for Wet Floors
There are several areas in any facility that will be susceptible to wet floors from time to time. For starters, there are specific flooring types which will be more slippery than others, such as marble, tile and terrazzo, though other hard flooring should also be checked from time to time. Marble and tile flooring are common in kitchen and restroom areas due to the ease of cleaning them, however they will present a hazard should they become wet. The following rooms and spaces are considered the most likely to encounter wet floors:
- Restrooms and showering areas (workplace, dormitory, educational, etc.)
- Food preparation areas (kitchens, dining areas, cafeterias, etc.)
- Entryways and exits from the outside (particularly during rainy/snowy seasons)
- Medical areas which require sterile surfaces
- Janitorial closets
- Gyms and fitness center locker rooms
Again, while these are the most common areas for wet floors and slip and fall accidents, other areas should also be inspected. Any spills or wet floors should be taken care of as soon as possible to reduce the risk of injuries to passersby.
Protecting Against Wet Floors, Slips and Falls
While some spills and wet flooring cannot be anticipated, there are ways of warning those passing by of the potential danger. Whether cleaning staff have just gone through and mopped the floor, a spill has just been cleaned up, a leak is currently being attended to, etc., having a few “Caution: Wet Floor” signs on hand will be of great benefit to you. These signs can be placed down whenever an area of the floor is wet and potentially slippery to alert walkers to be more cautious as they pass by. Once the danger has been removed and the floor has dried, simply return these signs to storage for future use.
Sometimes a more permanent solution is needed. In highly trafficked areas, it may be appropriate to install anti-skid adhesive tape along the center of the walkway. Absorbent mats at entrances and exits will provide a place to dry off shoes and prevent wet flooring elsewhere, but it should be noted that unanchored mats may become hazards themselves. If a mat is easily moved or easily folds up, tripping becomes a possibility. Ensure that your mats lie flat and have a no-slide backing that keeps it in place on the floor. Placing no-skid mats designed for kitchen, food preparation and bathing areas will also reduce the risk of slipping whether it be water, food or other liquids that have made their way to the floor. It’s also a good idea to ensure that drainage is installed correctly in restrooms, bathing facilities, etc. so that puddles do not form.
In restrooms, fixtures such as sinks, toilets and urinals have a tendency to produce condensation (some call it “sweat”), which can drip onto the floor, not to mention any backsplash, spills or fluids that accidentally made their way to the floor. Provide protection for restroom users and your floor by installing absorbent toilet or urinal mats around the base or below these fixtures. Stains from urine or toilet leaks are unsightly and can be the source of bad odors. Having protection in place that will collect any fluids, treat them and protect from stains is the ultimate solution to cover all your bases. We recommend checking out the Urinal and Toilet Textile Mat Service from Workplace Essentials, which are designed with a super absorbent microfiber containing a powerful neutralizing agent to control odors 24/7. Eliminate the time spent checking for spills, leaks, accidents and mopping since any liquids will be absorbed in the mat. Any residue is immediately treated on contact, providing easier restroom maintenance. They also offer EcoMats, which are 100% biodegradable! And to top it all off, Workplace Essentials partners each of its products with a regularly scheduled top-quality service contract from trained technicians who will ensure that each mats are replaced and disposed of properly when necessary.
Don’t waste any more time (or money) on potential accidents from people slipping on wet floors. Take the proper precautions to protect yourself and your people from the dangers of slipping and falling right away. Your facility deserves to look its best and be as safe as possible, so go to it!