When it comes to floorcare, we need to know that slip-and-fall accidents are not all the same. And for both medical and legal purposes, it is often important to identify the exact type of slip and/or fall that occurred when an accident has taken place.
A slip typically occurs when a person loses his or her balance when walking. As we walk, the muscles and tendons in our legs expand and contract. Our weight transfers from leg to leg, and our center of gravity (COG), located in the center of the body, helps keep us balanced. If there is an unexpected change in the floor surface, a foot can slip, our COG can be negatively impacted, and we may lose our balance. If we cannot correct ourselves quickly enough, a fall occurs.
This all seems fairly straightforward. However, things get a bit more complicated when we analyze a fall. Falls are typically classified using the following four categories:
- Slip-and-fall. This is when the COG is shaken after losing secure foot contact with the floor.
- Step-and-fall. This is when the floor surface unexpectedly changes height or there is an actual hole in the floor.
- Stump (Stub)-and-fall. Encountering an unseen or unexpected impediment or obstruction — a drain cover that has lifted or a mat that has curled, for instance — can result in a stump-and-fall. Stump-and-falls can also occur when someone walks over a “tacky” part of a floor.
- Trip-and-fall. A foreign object on the floor, such as a power cord or an unseen or unexpected step, can result in a trip-and-fall.
If the worker lands on a fleshy part of the body, injuries may be minimal or nonexistent. It is when we land on a bony part of the body that falls can be serious.
All four types of falls can result in injuries; however, slip-and-falls are typically the most common. Some slip-and-fall accidents can be blamed on poor lighting or inability to see around a blind corner. They also often occur because the worker was wearing improper footwear or did not pay attention to warning signage.
Floorcare Cleaning and Maintenance
As noted earlier, a key cause of slip-and-falls, especially in food-processing/service locations, is grease and oil build-up on the floor. This is supported by Russ Kendzior, founder of the NFSI. According to Kendzior, “In order to prevent slips and falls, a business has to have a strategy that deals with the cleaning and maintenance of its floors. It cannot put the responsibility on employees by [simply] suggesting they watch where they’re walking.”
To do this, Kendzior advises managers to assess the type of soiling present on floors, as well as the tools and equipment used to clean them. For instance, according to Kendzior, a typical floor cleaning procedure — whether in a school, office, or foodservice/processing facility — generally involves regular sweeping and dust mopping of the floors; mopping the floors with a cleaning solution; and, where necessary, using some type of agitation to help loosen and remove soils, often referred to as “decking the floor”
More on floorcare is located here.