When it comes to preventing slip, trip and fall accidents, it is easy to identify common hazards, such as curled area mats, electrical cords breaching walkways or boxes blocking traffic areas.
However, there are other equally dangerous hazards that may not be as obvious.
The cost of slip, trip and fall accidents is costly to business.
According to the fifth edition of Industrial Safety & Occupational Health Markets, approximately 85 percent of workers'' compensation claims are attributed to employees slipping on slick floors.
These falls could be due to inappropriate product use, inadequate signage on newly mopped surfaces, spilled liquid that is not cleaned up or other less frequently noted hazards encountered by cleaning professionals.
It is pretty easy to take the necessary precautions in common slip, trip and fall situations, like placing signage around a newly mopped floor.
But what about those less noticeable situations?
It''s worth the time to take a careful look at some uncommon slip, trip and fall risks in your facility and explore ways you can decrease the chances of an accident.
Showers, Jacuzzis And Bathtubs
Cleaning a bathtub, shower or Jacuzzi is a multi-phased process requiring the application of a cleaner, agitation with an appropriate scrubbing pad, rinsing with water and drying.
Each time a housekeeper performs this task, he or she must reach across a wide and sometimes deep expanse of porcelain numerous times.
The combination of surfaces slick with cleaners, water and an inordinately long reach creates a dangerous slip, trip and fall risk.
In addition to the risk associated with overreaching on a wet or slick floor, a study conducted by the California Department of Industrial Relations in 2006 specifically notes the hazard of slipping on wet bathtub ledges while trying to scrub hard-to-reach tiles.
However, a slip, trip and fall hazard is not the only safety concern for professionals cleaning bathtubs, showers or Jacuzzis.
Research by the Biodynamics Lab at Ohio State University''s Institute for Ergonomics showed a 70 percent chance of lower back injury from cleaning restrooms.
This is because housekeepers need to contort their bodies into awkward positions as they reach across the bathtub and into hard-to-reach, tight spaces to ensure clean surfaces.
The solution: Use the proper tools and equipment.
First, consider the cleaning tools being used and opt for one that is designed to eliminate overreaching but will still effectively scrub, clean and dry.
A new item on the market, designed expressly for these applications, is a flexible, flat mop-like tool that swivels to safely extend a housekeeper''s reach.
It attaches to any length handle so professionals can scrub with their feet firmly planted on the floor without bending or reaching.
With gentle pressure, the pad''s surface contours snugly to curved surfaces with either a non-scratch scrubbing pad or microfiber pad.
Second, evaluate your protocol and eliminate risky procedures.
Are toilets sprayed with disinfectant before tubs are washed and are counters and sink areas sprayed with cleaner before cleaning the Jacuzzi?
Overspray of cleaning chemicals on a tile floor can create a slippery surface.
One solution is to keep dirty towels on the floor while applying cleaners where overspray may occur to absorb the wayward spray of the cleaning chemical.
Chemical And Water Overspray
Just as the overspray of a disinfectant or cleaner can create a slip, trip and fall hazard in the restroom, the same holds true in other areas of a facility.
It is important to keep an eye on hard floors and the amount of accidental overspray created by cleaning products such as furniture polish or stainless steel cleaners.
These two types of cleaners are notorious for containing ingredients that leave behind a slippery, oily residue.
Quite often, they are used in facilities where there is hard flooring, such as churches and kitchens.
The solution: Use extreme caution.
Be cautious when you apply cleaners and polishers to surfaces that rest on hard flooring.
Watch for any overspray of product and adjust your cleaning procedure accordingly.
Another solution is to investigate alternative cleaners and polishers that provide greater friction by reducing slippery residue.
Any condition that creates a slippery hard floor is a slip, trip and fall hazard.
This includes malfunctioning water fountains and misdirected produce sprayers.
Properly maintain water fountains and sprayers so that misting or overspray is minimized.
To further reduce a slip, trip and fall risk, consider providing absorbent matting in areas of potential overspray.
Not only will the matting help protect hard floor surfaces from excess wear, they will provide increased traction and help absorb moisture.
Do you have uncommon slip, trip and fall areas in your facility?
Virginia Petru is president of Petru & Associates, a provider of marketing and public relations services. She has been involved in the JanSan industry for over 15 years and has witnessed many advances in environmental cleaning technology.