According to the Health and Safety Executive, slips and trips are the most common cause of major injuries in the workplace. Around 90% of these major injuries are broken bones, and the total cost of these injuries to the industry is somewhere in the region of £500m.
Pretty serious stuff, then, and something to be extremely wary of as an employer, or as someone who looks after a professional or public site on a daily basis. Unsurprisingly, one of the biggest causes of slips is wet surfaces, meaning cleaners have to be particularly diligent in their work to ensure no one quite literally falls foul of a wet floor.
It’s a legal requirement to assess the risk of any of your work and take reasonable precautions to prevent any accidents. So, when it comes to cleaning a dirty floor, how can you do it safely?
In the event of an accident, one of the first things risk assessment professionals will ask is whether there were adequate warnings visible. The classic yellow ‘wet floor’ sign is an absolute must to mark any wet or slippery surface, while other warning signs like ‘cleaning in progress or any other clear warning can be used – say in the instance of vacuuming where cables are trailing across the floor.
According to The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996, it’s a legal requirement that all UK businesses display and maintain safety signs while there’s a potential risk to consider. So, when cleaning, ensure you’ve cordoned off the area effectively, and displayed an adequate warning to passers-by to ensure they’re aware.
Use the right products and the right amount
The HSE highlights that almost all slip accidents involve contamination of the floor. With that in mind, knowing how to effectively clean and remove contamination can help to reduce accidents.
Much of this comes down to knowing the right products to use and using them in the right quantities. Some key pointers from the HSE:
- Use the correct amount of the right cleaning product
- Allow detergents enough time to work on greasy floors
- Maintain your cleaning equipment so it remains effective
- Use a well-wrung mop that leaves a thin film of water that will dry quickly
- Use a dry mop where possible on a wet floor to reduce drying time
Always have equipment at the ready
The readiness to respond to emergency situations is vital in a role where there’s a risk to the public. That might sound a touch overdramatic in relation to cleaning, but with slips and trips being as prominent an issue as they are, it makes sense to be prepared to mitigate any risks where possible, as quickly as possible.
With that in mind, always having the right equipment at the ready to deal with any spillages or contaminations is a must. A quick response to a problem may just avoid an unnecessary injury.
Once you understand the risks attached to cleaning work, and particularly those connected with a wet floor, it becomes apparent just how important it is to approach the job with care and attentiveness. With slips and falls as big a burden on the professional industry as they are, upping your cleaning standards could make a sizeable difference to your operation in the future.