Six floor safety maxims to live by – Part Two

Last week we discussed three of the six floor safety maxims to live by, giving you just a preview of how you can reduce risk and prevent accidents. As we touched on previously, these steps are not only designed to help you have fewer accidents and people getting hurt, but also to improve your claims defensibility and save financial and human cost.

If you missed the first three steps, you can read them here.

 

4. A textured floor is not necessarily a safe floor

Possibly the biggest misconception we see out in the field is that people assume that because they have a floor surface with some kind of texture or profile that it must provide good slip resistance.

Firstly, you cannot know without quantifying it – there are lots of floors that “look” anti-slip but actually are not designed to inherently give much wet slip resistance.

Secondly, floor surfaces change over time:

  • Ineffective cleaning can reduce a 1 in 1,000,000 slip risk floor to a 1 in 2 risk floor very quickly indeed, particularly in a greasy environment such as a kitchen, in a shower or on poolside
  • Floors will wear and therefore their slip resistance changes as their surface profile changes

So even if you start with a slip resistant surface (both how it looks and how it actually is) you should monitor it.

 

5. If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it

You must not assume that a floor is slip resistant or not. You can quantify the slip resistance that a floor provides by using the pendulum test. This will give you a category of risk (low, moderate or high) as well as an accident risk exposure (from 1 in 2 to less than 1 in 1,000,000).

As with most things in life, if you don’t measure, you can’t manage. You can’t run a business without measuring income and expenditure. You can’t manage your slip safety without conducting a slip test.

There are various slip testing methods available in the marketplace, but the pendulum test is the one used by HSE in enforcement and prosecution. This therefore is the gold standard test.

Other methods can be useful to give indicative results and certainly to enable you to assess changes over time through regular monitoring (the pendulum must be used by a trained operator whereas other tests can be used by almost anyone with very minimal training).

If the worst happens and you end up in court with evidence from another test and you are up against pendulum test data, you are going to struggle. Why take the risk?

 

6. Not all floors need to be highly slip resistant…but some do: take an informed, zonal approach

Managing your slip safety should be done using a risk assessment-based approach.

Not all floors are likely to become routinely wet or contaminated, so the slip resistance of the floor surface here is less important than having a good spillage control system in place for example.

But lots of floors do get routinely wet: entrances, swimming pools, hotel bathrooms, washrooms/toilets, kitchens, and of course external areas. In these environments you should seek to ensure you have a slip resistant floor surface which is well maintained in addition to other useful control measures.

Take a large shopping centre, the areas most likely to become wet are around entrances, in washrooms, and near a food court. Concentrate your risk management efforts on these environments and you’ll probably find that the Pareto Principle applies.

 

We hope the above are helpful to you and your drive to improve your slip safety.

To go into further depth on the above, you can take our digital diagnostic tool, the Slip Safety Scorecard, HERE

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