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Madras-Medical-CollegeAccording to a study conducted by Madras Medical College and Government General Hospital, Chennai, it is estimated that nearly 1.5 to two million people get injured and about one million die every year in India as a result of a slip-and-fall accident. While there are many instances of tripping and falling, a major concern is the number of people slipping over spill.

Alarge number of accidents occur mostly among elderly people, but many younger and middle-aged people get hurt while at work, at home, and very often in a medical facility, retail outlet, grocery store, or similar places that they visit every day.

Most slip-and-fall cases occur as a result of someone tripping over an electrical cord or uneven pavement and sidewalks, however, many occur in commonly frequented locations as a result of a spill.

Let’s take a medical facility as an example: A mother visiting the doctor along with her children finds one of them has spilled juice on the floor. The mother may notify the staff who could be busy at that moment leading to a delay in attending the spill. Even once a custodial worker has been contacted about the spill, finding a proper way to remove the spill can be a challenge.

Here is what often happens when a spill has occurred in a healthcare or retail facility, grocery store, and other such locations:

  • The person who identifies the spill looks for a manager or custodial worker to take action.
  • Locating the spill, the building manager or custodial worker typically wants to know what it is – Water, Juice, Soda, Bleach, Ammonia, or Oil? This is very important to know because it will tell the manager or cleaning professional not only what steps he or she must take to remove the spill but also, for his or her own safety and that of all building users, what cleaning solutions should be used.
  • If the building manager is attending to the problem, he or she may not know where the appropriate cleaning equipment is stored. Should he or she just grab a mop? (This is not a good option, as the mop may likely be soiled, which could just push soil and containments over the floor. This can be a very serious problem in a healthcare setting.
  • Is the manager or custodial worker aware of the proper safety procedures to take? How much of the floor area should be closed off with warning cones? And once the area is cleaned, how long will it take for it to dry?

Over and above, by the time the facility staff, building manager or custodial worker has figured out what to do, many more children and parents would have walked through over the area, tracking the juice drink around the floor and leading to more opportunities for a slip-and-fall accident to occur.

Developing a Spill-Response Program

Spill-ResponseWhat we just discussed happens nearly every day in commercial facilities all over India. In fact, if the stats mentioned earlier are correct, there are about 5,500 reported slip-and-fall accidents every day in India.

Having a quick and effective spill-response program in place can prevent a slip-and-fall accident from happening.

Using our healthcare setting again as an example, the plan usually entails the following:

  • Develop a system to quickly notify a manager or custodial worker that a spill has occurred. With 5,500 slip-and-fall accidents in India every day, time is of the essence.
  • Identify the spill by ascertaining the kind of liquid. As mentioned earlier, if it is to be cleaned up and cleaned up safely, we need to know what type of spill we are dealing with.
  • Know where safety cones are stored. Place several safety cones around the spill area as quickly as possible; this should be adequate to prevent others from walking through the spill and tracking it elsewhere.
  • Sweep the area clean of debris; do not use mops, as they are often soiled. View mops as if they were a paintbrush used to paint a wall; however, in this case, it’s not paint being spread but scores of soils and contaminants over the floor.
  • Use what are referred to as “autovac” systems to clean the floor and specifically the spill area. Autovacs are fairly new machines. They are relatively small, making them easy to store and transport. The machine operates similar to a full-sized auto scrubber, but at about one-sixth the price, and will clean, remove the spill, and leave the floor dry. While the machines are far less costly than traditional auto scrubbers, the price can vary in different parts of the world.
  • While the area will be dry in a matter of minutes, for safety reasons, keep warning signs around the area for about 30 minutes.

One such autovac system is being tested by a large mega-retailer with 20 stores in India and more is being planned. This retailer was in the same position as the healthcare facility. It did not have a plan or protocol to address spills in its stores. It is developing one now with the use of the autovac system to help ensure its staff and customers are safe whenever they are in its stores.

Marc Ferguson
International Business Development Manager

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