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How to Prevent Slips and Falls in Your Facility

How To Prevent Slips and Falls in Your Facility

Facilities with high-traffic areas, such as schools, healthcare, and commercial facilities, are the most at risk for people taking a sudden slip, trip, or fall. According to the National Safety Council, these types of mishaps lead to the most costly types of injuries as they’re not only the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims, they also represent the primary cause of lost days from work due to an accident.

While the risk for these accidents may be increased by human factors, such as age, failing eyesight, and other mobility impairments (such as using a cane or a walker), it’s important for facility managers to note the non-human factors that reflect accident-prone statistics: floor surfaces.

Floors and flooring materials contribute to more than 2 million fall injuries per year, usually due to them becoming wet from leaks, spills, snow, rain, mud, wet leaves, and other floor contaminations. Thankfully, these issues are easily preventable with the implementation of a tight floor maintenance problem. So, while you may not be able to control the weather or how people walk, you can start by identifying problem areas in order to minimize the chance for slips, trips, and falls.

The Five “Danger Zones”

Lobbies. As a welcome space, lobby areas tend to be shiny and attractive -- but this doesn’t come without a cost. Lobbies are often buffed and waxed, in an effort to offer optimal appeal for visitors and workers. Also, as the point of entry, lobbies are often subject to shoes, umbrellas, and the debris that both track in.

Breakrooms/cafeterias. As a space where food and beverages are prepared and consumed, spills are more likely to occur. Coffee machine areas are especially susceptible to drips and spills, where occupants tend to pass through with uncovered mugs full of the hot beverage.

Restrooms. It goes without saying that wherever there is water, there is an increased risk for slips, trips, and falls. Restroom floors are subject to becoming wet in numerous ways – everything from the slightest hand-dripping, to overflowing sinks and toilets, and plumbing problems.

Piping. Corrosion and wear can cause piping to leak. Preventative maintenance is key when it comes to piping, especially if it’s in close proximity to where occupants are.

Roof. Both cold or inclement weather can make any roof vulnerable to leaks. On top of that, buckets that are left on floors to collect liquid from roof leaks are also susceptible to being tripped over by a distracted occupant.

Five Tips to Prevent Accidents

Fortunately, there are several ways that facility managers can plan ahead in order to prevent these various flooring/area hazards:

Watch the Weather. Preparation for storms, snow, rain, or any other weather event that could leave debris on your facilities’ floors is of utmost Have signs handy to make building occupants aware of potential hazards, and have floor blowers on hand to dry up rain water.

Use Matting for Liquid Absorption. Floor matting can help absorb water and other liquid debris. However, matting comes with its own set of hazards. Avoid matting that gaps, wrinkles, or easily moves around. Ideally, your matting should have an adhesive backing to keep the mat flat and in place.

Analyze Past Problem Areas. Examine any previous slip or fall claims and use them as a map to help you identify high-risk zones in your facility, or to help you determine primary areas for potential hazards. By looking at “root cause” errors of the past, you can help to ensure a safer present and future.

Use Proper Cleaning Aides. Be sure to purchase the right cleaner for the right contaminant and floor surface. For example, what you use on tile may be quite different than what you’d use on wood or concrete. Work with your janitorial supply company to determine which chemicals are best to use on the various surfaces of your facility. In addition, be sure to carefully read the directions on all chemical products in order to use these cleaners correctly. Take special note of any dilution ratios and water temperatures required.

Have a Floor Maintenance Management Program in Place. An established program is an important preparation tool for proper floor maintenance. Your program should include ways to properly store cleaning products and equipment, training staff, regular floor inspections that are shared with supervisors, and specific procedures and protocols for various areas.

Slippery flooring is unsafe for building occupants and can turn into expensive claims for your facility. Getting ahead of these potential problems can go a long way to eliminate risk, and make for an all-around safer, happier workplace for everyone.

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