Reducing the likelihood of slip-and-fall accidents is a priority of facility managers across the board, and with good reason. According to the National Safety Council, slips and falls constitute one of the leading causes of accidental death in the United States.
The size and scope of the problem is expected to grow significantly with the aging of the baby-boomer generation. The National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI) estimates that between 2005 and 2020, the number of seniors in the United States will increase from 35 million to 77 million. Statistically, seniors are far more likely to experience a slip-and-fall accident.
To help policyholders improve safety, CNA, the country’s seventh largest commercial insurance writer, conducted an in-depth study on slips and falls in the restaurant industry. The results drove home the importance of establishing and adhering to a regular floor-care maintenance program, according to CNA.
Based on its findings, CNA Risk Control, which works with business owners in all industries on slip-and-fall programs, came up with a number of recommendations to help lower the risk of such incidents. Although the suggestions were developed for restaurants, many can be applied to most retail stores as well.
Among CNA’s recommendations:
• Install high-traction, slip-resistant flooring when building, expanding or remodeling facilities. According to CNA, this is one of the best ways to avoid slip-and-fall issues;
• Select floor-cleaning and maintenance products with proven slip-resistance characteristics that are compatible with the particular flooring surfaces in a facility;
• Always apply floor-cleaning and maintenance products in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations;
• Verify with cleaning personnel that they are familiar with and are using the correct application procedures;
• Be alert for workers substituting cleaning materials or supplies;
• Remove any unauthorized or incompatible cleaning products and educate staff of the potentially dangerous consequences using the wrong products can have on the slip resistance of flooring surface;
• Limit the difference in height between flooring surfaces and mats to no more than 1/4 in. to 1/2 in.;
• Ensure that permanently installed features such as carpet runners and mats are included in the maintenance and housekeeping program;
• Keep in mind that while mats reduce the likelihood of slips, improperly maintained mats can actually create trip hazards. Inspect mats frequently to make sure they haven’t buckled or curled;
• Regularly review all slip-and-fall incident reports in your facilities and understand the critical factors associated with them. Look for trends in location and time of day, etc., and focus staff training on cleaning procedures for these factors; and
• Train workers on how to properly respond to slip-and-fall incidents.