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Common Causes

Experts have identified three general causes of floor-related accidents: physical, social and environmental. Unfortunately, eliminating these factors can be very difficult, so it is important for cleaning managers to stress prevention.

Cleaning managers have little control over environmental factors such as tracked in snow, rain water, soil and dust. Instead, cleaning staff must be prepared to react to weather conditions and address concerns before they become a hazard. Preparation in these situations can eliminate potential accidents. The staff should start with the outside and move in. Using proper matting both in and outside entryways can reduce the elements that are tracked into a facility.

It is essential to build in permanent walk-off areas in entryways to capture moisture and soil as it is tracked in. Walk-off mats need to be in place 24/7 because you never know when it is going to rain and if a fine soil is tracked in, even on a dry day, it can cause a slip or damage the flooring. It is also important to pay attention to rolled or frayed edges and over-saturation. If this happens, mats will no longer be effective

Cleaners might also struggle with social factors. These might include a person’s age, footwear, or if someone is simply distracted and isn’t paying attention to their surroundings.

Footwear accounts for 24% of all slip and fall accidents, according to the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI). These accidents are common regardless of the environment because the less contact a person has with the floor the more likely they are to experience an accident. It is also seen that the average victims of slip and fall accidents are women over the age of 60.

Physical factors are difficult to control because they will be different for every building occupant or cleaning worker. This includes the potential for poor vision, lack of stability, walking struggles, etc. The use of proper signage to identify slip and fall hazards can help prevent these physical factors. NFSI statistics indicate that 9% of slip and fall accidents are due to hazard identification, or lack there off. Cleaners can reduce these accidents by properly notifying building occupants of potential hazards.

Training workers to properly clean floors can also reduce these physical factors. Most of the accidents are attributed to training issues, such as improper use of floor finishes and cleaning chemicals. Workers should not just focus on using high-gloss finishes to improve the look of floors because some shiny finishes contain oil, which can reduce friction on flat surfaces and increase the potential for accidents.

Proper Flooring

  • Slip resistance – Make sure the flooring has a wet, static coefficient of friction (COF) of 0.6 or higher.
  • Ease of cleaning – If dirt and grease are difficult to remove from floors, they could build up causing a slip hazard.
  • Ease of maintenance – Select floor cleaners that are designed for flooring used within the facility.
  • Durability – Select a floor that will hold up under normal use.
  • Absorption – Floors that absorb too much moisture will also absorb contaminants. A high amount of moisture in a tile can also cause it to crack or become uneven.
  • Frost resistance – Surfaces that expand and contract with temperature changes are more likely to crack, crumble and decay over time.

Finally, the NFSI recommends using slip-resistant strips on steps and stairs. A major cause of slips is poor traction and facility managers across the country have reduced accidents within the facility by implementing these products.

Preventative Measures

Experts recommend that cleaning managers implement a floor safety insurance programme into their department. This outlines various flooring types and in what areas of the facility they are most effective. It also outlines the proper cleaning products workers should use to maintain those floors and encourages managers to regularly measure the traction of the flooring. The higher the traction, the less likely a slip and fall accident will occur.

Beyond flooring, managers should make sure workers are wearing the proper types of shoes to maintain a level of safety in the workplace. High-traction shoes are ideal for cleaning workers.

Source: Housekeeping Solutions

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