Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

The proactive approach to slips and falls

September 19, 2010
All business owners, operators and employers have a vested interest in reducing the incidence of slips and falls.

The National Safety Council estimates that 8 million people end up in the emergency room every year as a result of accidental falls, costing American businesses more than $60 billion.

No facility can afford to be in a reactive position when it comes to slips and falls.

And, when it comes to safety, the old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” holds true.

It is all about taking a proactive approach — educating yourself and your staff on the potential hazards of slips and falls.

This can be accomplished by taking a serious look at your facility to identify potential hazard sources and likely slip and fall situations.

Once you have a clear picture of your pedestrian traffic patterns and your hazard risks, you are in a position to take action and choose the right tools for the job.

Focusing on prevention
Whether you employ a contractor for cleaning services or have a janitorial staff that uses a wet mopping system, you can expect to encounter slip-and-fall conditions on a daily basis.

Therefore, the cleaning equipment “toolbox” should always include folding safety signs and mobile barricades at the very least.

Folding safety signs are designed to collapse and be positioned nearby the most likely hazard sites for rapid deployment.

The key factor in preventing falls is short response time.

This includes identifying the hazard and taking rapid action to alert pedestrians, and, if need be, barricading the area to inhibit access to the hazard.

Scheduling the occasional safety training with your staff and checking with your contractor ensures that your cleaning team and staff members know when and how to use these safety tools.

This helps your staff work smarter and safer.

Top tips
Below are some tips and best practices in order to maintain a safe environment and reduce slip-and-fall hazards.

Identify potential slip-and-fall safety hazards.

Implement and use a pedestrian safety system.

Keep basic records and inspection logs of your pedestrian safety system.

Train employees on proper pedestrian safety practices and maintain records of employee safety training.

For contractors, ask for written evidence of their safety practices and training programs.

There are safety signs on the market today that offer a variation on the traditional wet floor sign that has enabled dramatic reductions in spill response times, which include urgent care facilities.

This system alerts customers and employees to the hazard and dispenses highly absorbent pads to be placed directly onto the spill.

The result is a very effective and immediate response that safeguards the hazard, while awaiting the arrival of the mop and bucket.

There are other instances when simply alerting pedestrians of a potential hazard is not sufficient.

For unanticipated problems, such as an automatic door malfunction, painting and various other types of scheduled maintenance, effective accident prevention may require the erection of a barrier.

From folding and pop-up safety signs to safety cones and hanging signs, having a pedestrian program in place with the right tools are the required steps to keeping your facility, your employees and your patients safe.

Joe DeZarn and Mark Hoyle are members of the marketing team at Rubbermaid Commercial Products LLC. Mark Hoyle is the product manager for the Pedestrian Safety Group, and has been instrumental in the development and marketing of innovative pedestrian safety products. A complete listing of RCP’s pedestrian safety products are available at