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Soapbox: Having 'come a cropper' at Christmas, a cleaning industry writer discusses slip-and-fall accidents
On Christmas Eve 2021, a writer for the professional cleaning industry fell on a slippery, soiled floor, landing straight on his forehead.
The accident resulted in 19 stitches plus three days in the hospital for observation. That writer was Robert Kravitz, president of AlturaSolutions, a communications firm for business influencers. The incident made Robert review all he has learned about slips and falls over the years and how cleaning can help prevent them.
- Slips and falls cause more than one million emergency room visits each year
- About 5% of all falls result in a fracture
- Soiled floors play a role in more than two million falls each year
- Slips and falls are the main cause of lost days of work
- Falls on slippery floors are the main cause of workers' compensation claims, according to the National Floor Safety Institute
We also should know some basics about how we walk and why we fall:
- When walking, we swing back and forth, transferring our weight from one foot to the other
- Our centre of gravity (COG), the centre of the body, is our balance point
- As our weight is transferred from foot to foot, there is a brief second when we are off balance and vulnerable to a fall. I encountered that brief second
- If there is an unexpected change in the floor surface, grease, oil, or moisture on the floor, our COG can be negatively impacted
- We can lose our balance, and, if we cannot quickly right ourselves, we fall
To prevent slip-and-fall accidents, cleaning professionals must develop a slip-and-fall prevention program. This typically includes the following three key components:
- Proper Matting: Install high-performance matting to remove, capture and hold moisture, grease, oil, and debris from shoe bottoms. Some 15ft of matting is recommended at all entryways for a building.
- Proper Footwear: Cleaning workers should not wear dress shoes when working. The National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health suggests slip-resistant shoes be worn, "by employees whose work exposes them to wet or greasy floors, such as housekeepers and custodial workers and food service workers."
- Proper Cleaning: A clean floor is a safe floor. Avoid mop-and-bucket floor cleaning. Use automatic scrubbers instead. Autoscrubbers apply cleaning solution to floors, scrub and then dry the floor all in one pass. This is the most effective and environmentally responsible way to keep floors clean and safe, helping to prevent slip-and-fall accidents.
Cleaning workers and building managers have the power to make their facilities safe for all building users. That begins with the floors. Let my experience be an example of what can happen when proper floor care is not implemented.
AlturaSolutions is a 20-year-old communications company that has worked with some of the largest and most-respected companies in the professional cleaning, food service, facilities management, and related sectors.
24th February 2022