Commercial properties are held to the highest professional standards. This includes things like health and safety standards. Slipper floors, loose floor mats, and other foot-bound obstacles can lead to slips, trips, and falls for employees or guests.
While these accidents might be small in nature, they can have big liability consequences to property owners and commercial property managers. You can use the tips in this guide to help prevent slips, trips, and falls throughout your facility.
Common Causes Of Slips, Trips & Falls
A lot of slips, trips, and falls are related to a loss of traction between the person’s shoe and the surface they are walking on. This might also include inadvertent contact with a fixed or moveable object such as a loose section of carpet or a floor mat.
Some of the most common causes of slips, trips, and falls include:
- Wet floors
- Grease on the floors
- Overly dry floors that are covered with sawdust or powder
- Uneven walking surfaces
- Highly polished or freshly waxed floors
- Loose sections of carpeting
- Unsecured floormats
- Transition areas from one type of flooring to another
- Missing or damaged floor tiles
- Damaged or irregular steps
- A lack of safety handrails
- Sloped walking surfaces
- Shoes that are still wet from outside
- Accidental clutter in high traffic area
- Electrical cords or loose power cables
- Ramps or gang planks without skid-resistant surfaces
- Metal surfaces without treads
- Weather hazards caused by rain, sleet, ice, snow, hail, frost
- Wet leaves tracked in by previous people
With such an extensive list it can feel understandably daunting to keep your building’s floors and outdoor walkways safe. Though with due diligence, there are a few things that can help.
Implement & Maintain Good Housekeeping Practices
Good housekeeping practices are the first, best step toward maintaining a safe facility. Commercial properties with poor or inconsistent housekeeping practices statistically have a higher incidence of employee injuries. This translates into ever-increasing insurance costs and the heightened risk of regulatory citations.
Establishing the best practices proper housekeeping routine and ensuring that your employees and custodial staff adhere to it diligently will go a long way toward preventing slips, trips, falls, and other liability concerns. Just bear in mind that this might require some additional training for some individuals as well as making sure that these practices are performed daily.
This includes things like planning ahead so that everyone knows what needs to be done, as well as who is going to do it. In a large facility, this might mean assigning specific areas as well as assigning responsibility. Then also go a step further to put at least one individual in charge of oversight to make sure that everything is being done correctly and on time.
This also includes things like implementing standard practices to clean up any and all spills as soon as possible. If the wet area can’t immediately be cleaned up, you should place two or more “Caution Wet Floor” signs.
Be Proactive To Reduce Wet & Slippery Walking Surfaces
The floors in your building are just the most obvious place where slips, trips, and falls can occur. In truth, anywhere on your site can be at risk of slippery or obstructed walking surfaces which could lead to a serious liability issue. This includes:
- Parking lots and other parking structures
- Sidewalks & exterior walkways
- Food prep areas
- Be Mindful Of The Weather
It’s important to remember that the traction on an outdoor surface can change considerably with the weather. Especially in winter when things like sleet, ice, and snow can rob even a robust walking surface of its necessary traction. Though even heavy summer rains can just as easily turn seemingly tactile surfaces slippery.
Set up standard practices for snow removal and treatment of icy parking areas and sidewalks in the winter. If you know of a particular area that loses traction during rainy weather, make it a habit to place caution tape or slippery when wet signs.
Part of this process also includes keeping parking lots and sidewalks clean as well as in good repair. Plan for routine maintenance and seasonal maintenance. This might include seal coating and sealing cracks.
You might also want to apply adhesive striping material or anti-skid paint whenever possible.
Once you have the outdoor areas sufficiently addressed, you can turn your attention toward indoor measures to help reduce weather-related slips, trips, and falls.
This starts with using moisture-absorbent mats that have a beveled edge in all your entrance areas. Ideally, you want long mats that have a backing material that will not slide on the floor. This helps hold them in place while creating an area that will absorb rain and snowmelt from people’s shoes as they enter the building.
You should also consider placing “Wet Floor” signs as needed. This will help remind people that their shoes might still be damp on the bottom as they make the transition from the long floor mat to the hard floors of your building.
Prevent Obstacles In Walkways & Aisles
While wet and slippery floors seem to be the most obvious cause of slips, trips, and falls, other things like physical obstacles, clutter, and errant materials in halls or walkways can be just as dangerous. Here again, proper housekeeping practices in high traffic areas are the most effective control measure in avoiding the proliferation of these types of hazards. This means establishing policies and procedures in place for cleaning the area while keeping everything organized and tidy.
Upgrade Or Install Superior Lighting
Shadows and poor lighting can make it hard for people to spot an obstacle or a wet floor until it’s too late. Consider upgrading or installing proper illumination in walkways, staircases, access ramps, and hallways. Also, double-check to make sure there is sufficient lighting in areas that see less foot traffic, such as basements, storerooms, and dock areas.
Encourage Proper Shoes
It’s worth bearing in mind that even the shoes people wear can play a significant part in preventing slips, trips, and falls. Some shoes have thick soles or the type of heels that make them more prone to causing slips, trips, and falls. Encouraging proper shoe use for employees might seem like a minor thing, but it can play a major role in preventing accidents in the workplace.