In the United States, there are more than one million people injured from slip, trip and fall incidents every year.
It is important to recognize the significance of these types of injuries as claims from slips, trips and falls cost, on average, approximately $25,000-$28,000 per occurrence, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The most common injuries are to joints — typically the back, wrist, elbow, shoulder and knee.
There are many factors that contribute to slip, trip and fall incidents, one of which is improper floor cleaning.
To ensure proper floor cleaning procedures are in place, a formalized cleaning program should be established.
The following information can serve as a guideline.
A program should be implemented to ensure regular cleaning of floors is conducted at a facility.
A cleaning program should establish cleaning schedules and contain, at a minimum, the following elements:
Cleaning schedules should be determined and considerations should be given to peak hours, traffic patterns and weather conditions
The drying time for the area being cleaned should also be considered when establishing the schedule
Appropriate barricades should be used to redirect pedestrians during cleaning
All cleaning should be documented and inspection logs maintained
As part of the program, written procedures on floor cleaning need to be established and updated as needed (i.e. when a new floor surface is in place, when new cleaning products are used, if the work environment has changed, if new exposures are present, etc.)
The written procedures should also be evaluated periodically to ensure they are being followed and are effective.
Appropriate Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) should be obtained and employees should be trained properly on the use of personal protection and application procedures.
The minimum requirements for this training can be found in the HAZCOM requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
When implementing a cleaning program, training employees on cleaning policies and procedures is crucial to the success of the program.
Employees should be aware of overall housekeeping procedures as well as specific cleaning procedures for high-hazard areas.
The following factors should be considered when training is provided:
All areas should be checked to ensure proper drainage is in place
All areas should be highly visible
All areas should be cleaned thoroughly with no shortcuts
All equipment should be checked to ensure it is clean and in good condition
All equipment should be checked to make sure that the right equipment is used for the floor surface.
Products should be tested on a small section of the floor, prior to use, to ensure the product is suitable for the floor surface.
Many suppliers and manufactures of floor cleaning products provide technical support to select the appropriate products for specific types of floors and needs.
Cleaning products should be tested prior to purchase to ensure quality — this could also save you from buying expensive products that do not work.
Follow all manufacturers'' instructions on safety and application.
Products from different vendors should not be mixed together, as the products might not be compatible and could cause the products to not work as expected.
Provide training for using, mixing and applying products as well as maintaining all cleaning equipment.
Many product vendors provide assistance with selection and technical training.
All facilities should have the proper cleaning materials readily available for their operations.
Rather than using the same mop throughout the entire premises, equipment should be separated for different areas of the facility.
Equipment may need to be color-coded or marked to ensure employees use the proper equipment for designated areas.
If an area needs to be blocked off for cleaning, employees should know how to set up signage and equipment properly.
When using signage, it is important to ensure signs are highly visible and do not pose a slip, trip or fall hazard.
Signage should also be used in conjunction with cleaning up spills and debris, not just as a deterrent.
All equipment should be cleaned prior to use, regularly inspected and maintained.
Provide employees with the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure they avoid contact with contaminated materials.
Proper cleaning procedures should be followed for dust mopping, scrubbing, stripping and applying floor finishes.
There are common elements to the cleaning process.
Before each step in cleaning, the equipment should be clean, in working order and appropriate for the floor surface.
The floor area that is to be cleaned should be blocked off.
Once the cleaning process is completed, employees need to clean up equipment immediately after the procedure.
The equipment should be thoroughly washed, allowed to dry and stored in the proper location.
Color-coded mops and buckets should be provided for different areas to be cleaned.
This will prevent the spread of foreign substances from one area to another and reduce the possibility that these substances will be spread in the process of cleaning a spill.
Basic Cleaning Procedures
To effectively dust mop floors, cleaners should:
Remove all debris
Hold mop at a 45-degree angle and push mop straight ahead; do not push backwards and avoid lifting up mop
Use a small dust mop for obstructed areas, such as an office or classroom
When mopping, start at entrance and work from the sides to the center of room
If furniture is easily moved, move and mop where furniture is located
Use dustpan and broom to sweep up trash
Once the floor is clean, brush out the dust mop with a stiff bristle brush or place the dust mop head in a plastic liner and shake it several times
Treat dust mop at end of cleaning procedures
Replace mop head when soiled
Hang dust mop with yarn facing away from walls.
For floor scrubbing:
Operate floor machine from side to side while applying solution
Overlap on each pass to ensure that the entire floor has been covered
Avoid bumping the baseboards and other fixed objects
Use a hand pad and holder to scrub corners and other areas not accessible to the floor machine.
Pick up dirty solution:
Use a wet vacuum or remove the dirty solution with the first mop
Dip the clean mop into the clear water and rinse — using the double bucket procedure
Wring out the wet mop frequently
Cover the entire area to be cleaned
Wipe off baseboards before they dry.
After the floor has dried, cleaning personnel should remove the wet floor signs and return furniture and other items cleared from the area to their proper positions.
Applying Floor Finish
Applying first coat of seal:
Pour floor finish into lined mop bucket and place a clean, non-rusty wringer into the bucket
Immerse clean mop into the finish
Wring out mop to eliminate dripping
Apply a thin coat of finish to the floor
Apply floor finish by running floor finish applicator mop parallel to and next to the baseboard
Do not apply in vertical portions of baseboards and walls
Work in a "U" shape around baseboards and work from outward inward
Use additional finish, as needed, per manufacturer instructions and cover the entire floor
Try to avoid splashing the floor finish
Before applying another coat, allow finish to dry completely.
Applying second coat of seal:
Repeat the above instructions
You may wish to avoid building up edges by keeping a few inches away from the baseboards
Apply a thin coat of finish
The second application should be made using a "figure 8" pattern, which reduces back fatigue
Allow second coat to dry completely.
Repeat the above instructions using the same floor finish for the next two coats and all subsequent ones
More coats allows more protection for the floor and a better appearance
Apply at least two coats of finish over the seal, if a high-speed burnishing program is used
Allow floor to dry completely before opening to traffic.
Apply stripping solution:
Spread floor stripping solution over area with mop
Allow solution to work on floor for recommended time — usually at least five minutes — and do not allow the stripper to dry.
Place floor stripping pad under floor machine
Scrub lengthwise along the baseboards
Strip side to side over the remaining area
Use hand scrub pad to detail strip along the edges and in corners of the room; heel floor machine on badly soiled spots
Do not splash stripper on walls.
Pick up dirty solution:
Use a wet vacuum to remove stripper solution from the floor
Do not allow the dirty solution to dry on the floor.
Rinse and dry floor:
Use clean mop and clean water
Add floor stripping neutralizer to water
Cover area with neutralizer and rinse water
Use wet vacuum to pick up rinse water
Wipe baseboards before they dry.
Cleaners should damp mop the floor with clean water for the final rinse. This will also ensure that all stripper solution has been removed.
Developing and implementing a formal cleaning program is one way to assist in reducing slip, trip and fall incidents.
While properly following cleaning procedures is an important step to reducing slip, trip and fall exposures, you still need to conduct an effective analysis of the exposures at your location.
Train staff to immediately report all instances of slips, trips and falls so that action to reduce the exposure can be immediately taken.
Dusti Butler, ARM, is a risk engineering representative for Zurich Services Corporation. She has over five years of experience working in the hospitality industry. She is a graduate of Illinois State University where she received a bachelor of science degree in insurance.
Helene Browning, ARM, is a liability line of business director in the risk engineering department of Zurich in North America. She holds a master of science degree in industrial safety. Browning has over 20 years of consulting experience.