Conducting an audit of existing resources, increasing facility awareness and developing a plan of action that uses the right products will help streamline efforts to achieve a slip-free facility.
Waste management is often considered one of the more dangerous industrial activities. As facilities often experience high volumes of traffic and complete many different jobs onsite, the opportunity for accidents to occur is amplified. Additionally, as waste transfer stations are often tasked with the disposal of hazardous and dangerous materials, it is imperative that safety is always the primary priority.
A fundamental part of a facility manager’s job is to ensure the well-being of his or her employees. However, despite the best intentions and due diligence, unanticipated accidents—including slips and trips—can occur. As a result, it is crucial for facility managers to implement a comprehensive floor safety plan to mitigate problems associated with workplace accidents, including worker’s compensation and litigation fees.
Prevalence and Awareness
Workplace accidents occur more often than most facility managers may anticipate. According to the National Safety Council, approximately 25,000 accidents involving slips or trips occur on an annual basis, accounting for one-fourth of all occupational injuries in the U.S.1 Slips and trips most often occur when there is a lack of traction or sturdiness between the walking surface and the shoe. This typically includes areas that are wet, oily or greasy, or impacted by weather hazards such as snow and ice.
Maintaining a slip-free facility can easily be achieved by adopting a consistent floor safety program. The first step begins with a thorough understanding of a facilities’ working conditions and overall environment and always keeping an eye toward safety. Seemingly inconspicuous defects such as commonly wet areas, cracked tiles, frayed carpet or worn treads are all it takes to cause a dangerous situation or employee hazard. As potential issues are ever-present, ongoing awareness and management is essential for employee safety. Fortunately, when combined with correct maintenance measures—such as matting and safety tread and tapes—facility managers can ensure a safe environment.
Floor Safety Management Plan
Once the facility conditions and trouble areas are identified, facility managers can evaluate and implement a successful floor safety management plan.
Matting is an effective measure to proactively prevent slips and trips before they occur. Ultimately, the correct matting will collect debris and water within the facility and keep outside dirt and debris from coming inside. Approximately 80 percent of dirt and moisture tracked into buildings accumulates on the soles of shoes entering the building.2 This debris can cause potential hazards, making it crucial to place mats with an open-back matting system at all entrances.
For areas within the facility that consistently collect water, a safety-walk matting system with an open back that allows water and other debris to flow through is recommended. This type of matting will also provide a cushion for workers stationed in one spot for extended periods of time.
For areas that experience temporary wet conditions, safety tapes and treads provide a proactive solution. However, before installing this product, it is important that a floor is finished. If a floor is unfinished and/or has cracks, water will seep, store and come back up from the floor, removing the sealant from the tapes and treads. As a solution, facility managers can apply a primer to seal a surface and keep water out. Once applied, the tapes and treads can then be affixed on top of the primed surface.
Additional areas that may cause slips and trips and require safety tapes and treads are loading docks, slanted walkways and areas with minimal visibility.
Conduct an Audit
Although the prevalence of slips and trips is high, the cause is quite simple and, in most cases, preventable. Conducting an audit of existing resources, increasing facility awareness and developing a plan of action that uses the right products will help streamline efforts to achieve a slip-free facility.
Rochelle Quandt is a U.S. Market Development Manager for 3M Commercial Solutions Division (St. Paul, MN), specializing in floor cleaning and floor safety. For more information, visit www.3M.com/floorsafety.