Assessing Slip And Fall Risks In Facilities

Take the time to walk through your facility and find out where the potential for slips and falls may have increased as a result of COVID-19.

By Alexis Henry
From the August 2020 Issue

As the country reopens following the COVID-19 lockdowns, businesses are looking to federal, state, and local agencies or industry trade associations for guidance on restarting operations. The “new normal” emphasizes protecting employees and patrons and includes increased surface cleaning and disinfecting and enforcing social distancing. Additional hand sanitizing and washing stations are also part of new protocols for many businesses, resulting in potential slip-and-fall hazards from liquids finding their way onto the floor. Take the time to walk through your facility and find out where the potential for slips and falls may have increased.

Re-evaluate Risk Zones. Reassess risk zones for new, potential slip-and-fall hazards. Increased cleaning frequency may mean floors become wet and slippery more often. There may also be additional areas in your facility where slip-and-fall risks weren’t previously identified.

Elevators and Stairwells. If an elevator had a capacity of six to eight people before COVID-19, it can now handle four at the most because of social distancing requirements. Stairwells may see heavier foot traffic due to reduced elevator capacity and people trying to avoid crowded areas. This increased traffic could lead to liquids being tracked or accidental spills—meaning these areas are new slip-and-fall risk zones.

Be sure to put a walk-off mat on landings to help dry shoes before people use the stairs. Adhesive-backed absorbent mats work well, because they stay in place and don’t introduce a trip hazard from buckling or shifting out of place.

Hand Sanitizing and Washing Stations. Implementing hand sanitizing and washing stations could quickly create high-risk zones. These are usually located at entrances, where heavy use and accidental spills cause liquids to reach the floor and increase the likelihood of slips and falls. Adhesive-backed, absorbent floor message mats are a great way to capture drips and spills while alerting your employee and visitors to the new policies in your facility.

slip and fallRestrooms. Frequent hand washing means your restrooms will see more traffic—and more water! Use adhesive-backed sink and dryer mats to absorb water that drips off hands in these areas and ensure safe footing for employees and visitors.

Floor Signage. Since CDC guidelines recommend social distancing and a higher level of cleaning protocols, many businesses are turning to pedestrian control messages on their floors. Keep in mind when purchasing these floor signs that you don’t want to introduce an additional slip hazard. If the area is prone to being wet, be sure to purchase one with a high coefficient of friction (COF) for increased traction. Other areas for signage may include elevators, breakrooms, aisles and passageways, cafeterias, meeting rooms, or manufacturing floors.

Employee and Visitors Entrances. If your facility plans to use products like sanitizing shoe baths with disinfectants, you need to use an additional absorbent walk-off runner to help prevent slips and falls. These walk-off runners provide an absorbent surface to safely dry shoes as the person exits the sanitizing shoe bath. We also suggest that you call out this risk zone with a wet floor sign to draw attention to the level of safety needed in this area.

Many locations set up hand sanitizing and temperature check stations at entrances, increasing the number of people waiting in line. Absorbent, adhesive-backed runners printed with social distancing instructions can be used to keep people six feet apart while helping to remove dirt, grime, and liquids from shoes.

Henry is associate product manager at New Pig, a safety equipment supplier located in Tipton, PA.

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