In today''s litigious society it seems everyone is looking to blame someone for something, and unfortunately in the cleaning business, this often includes the dreaded slip and fall accident.
In years past when a slip and fall accident would occur, the liability would fall solely on the company where the incident occurred.
But, this is no longer the case since there has been a growing trend that, along with the company or corporate entity that owns or leases the property where the accident occurred, others have been included.
Who Is To Blame?
These other individuals include the company hired to perform the cleaning and maintenance of the facility in question.
Often, the victim''s attorneys will include everyone down to the manufacturer of the floor finish.
Maintenance companies and their employees are starting to realize that this is an issue that''s not going away anytime soon.
In fact, slip and fall accidents are a common occurrence in many different types of facilities; statistics show that the risk of a slip and fall incident occurring continues to rise each year.
According to the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI), nearly 60 percent of all grocery store general liability insurance claims are slip and fall complaints.
The nation''s $494 billion grocery store industry spends $450 million annually just to defend slip and fall claims.
The NFSI goes on to report that slip and fall accidents in supermarkets are the leading cause of employee and guest injuries.
Additionally, statistics indicate that any business could be affected by a slip and fall incident.
According to Liberty Mutual, 65 percent of all lost workdays are due to slip and fall accidents; this, in turn, results in 95 million lost workdays per year.
And, the National Safety Council (NSC) reports that approximately 25,000 people a day are victims of slip and fall accidents.
The expense of these injuries is about $3.5 million per hour, every hour of the day and each day of the year.
Audit For Safety
First, you must be willing to accept the fact that there is a good probability that some time in the future your company will be faced with such a problem — whether from a lawsuit or from an accident involving an employee.
One little known tool that is now available to cleaning firms is the walkway audit.
For many of you, the phrase walkway auditing is new, but the procedure has been around for several years.
A company or person who has been trained and has received certification as a walkway safety auditor best performs the walkway audit.
So, how can a walkway audit protect your business?
It helps to identify areas of a facility''s floors that may present a slip and fall hazard; in turn, appropriate measures can be taken to correct any hazard before an actual incident occurs.
The walkway auditor is trained to test the slip resistance of a facility''s floors, and then assign risk categories according to walkway auditing guidelines.
Once the floor has been tested, the floor''s static coefficient of friction (SCOF) will be listed in a detailed report along with the location of each sample taken.
There are three different types of risk categories: Low traction; medium traction; and high traction.
Areas that receive low and medium traction readings should be considered a possible hazard and should be followed by some type of remediation.
How Can These Audits Help You?
Not only will the audit identify potential slip and fall hazards, but it will also help gauge your overall maintenance procedures.
This is also a good way to check the efficacy of your employees and the cleaning chemicals and procedures currently in use.
It''s no secret that when a floor is properly cleaned the slip resistance is higher and anytime residue is left behind the slip resistance of the floor could be lower.
If you are starting to clean a new facility or you just applied fresh finish to the floor, test that floor area immediately, and then test the floor periodically as time passes.
Compare the SCOF readings of the floor before and after cleaning procedures.
What better way to promote the effectiveness of your cleaning processes than have it backed by documented testing?
Also, having a detailed report from a third-party who specializes in walkway audits may go a long way if a lawsuit arises.
Making floor safety a priority is not only a great way to save your company and your clients money from unwanted slip and fall claims, but it could also be a great way to earn additional income for your business.
Selling Points To Clients
According to the NFSI, for every $1 spent on floor care, supermarkets spend $3 for slip and fall claims. Therefore, offering your clients the option of slip-resistant products should appeal to them.
Also, it''s important that any time you or your employees are working they be aware and alert to any slip and fall hazards.
Employees have an even greater chance of injury due to a slip and fall accident, therefore proper training should be mandatory and included in your company''s floor safety program.
A well-documented floor safety program should be a part of your company''s proactive approach to safety and should contain written procedures for identifying possible slip, trip and fall hazards as well as proper procedures for remediation — and, most importantly, your company''s prevention methods.
Along with these key elements, be sure to have plenty of signage available, such as wet floor signs and barriers that will act to warn of potential slip and fall hazards.
Floor dryers should also be used when possible to eliminate any risks from recently cleaned or finished floors.
Another wise investment is to mandate that all employees wear slip-resistant shoes when working.
Slip-resistant shoes come in a wide variety of colors and shapes and could have a big impact on lowering your employees'' chances of a slip and fall accident.
For information on how to start a floor safety program for your company, contact any floor safety specialist.
The specialist should be trained in floor safety, the procedures of walkway auditing and the development of customized floor safety programs that can be designed to fit your company''s specific needs.
Mike Fraley is president of Consolidated Safety Group Inc. and is currently serving on the NFSI/ANSI B-101 Standards Committee. Mike is also a NFSI-certified Walkway Safety Auditor and a NFSI-certified Slip and Fall Prevention Specialist. Consolidated Safety Group offers nationwide on-site walkway auditing, documented floor safety programs and a complete line of slip-resistant cleaners and degreasers. For more information concerning this article or the services Consolidated Safety Group offers, please visit www.walkwaysafety.com, www.floortesting.com or contact Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-888-818-9038.