The slip-and-fall accident is a perennial worry for foodservice operators. A recent study by Kaivac Cleaning Systems and Zurich Services Corp. looked at forensic reviews of dozens of such accidents and came up with the 10 most commonly associated risk factors:
1. Surface composition: How much slip resistance does the floor have when dry and properly cleaned? Some hard-surface floors may be slip-resistant when dry, but very slippery when wet or soiled.
2. Foreign substances cause slips and falls—ice, grease and water are major offenders. Sometimes conventional mopping can spread soils around and make things even more slippery. ‘Crossover’ or ‘no touch’ cleaning systems can help.
3. Surface conditions: Raised or recessed edges, loose carpeting, soiling and overall cleanliness of the floor can all be factors.
4. Surface changes: For example, walking from a carpeted floor to a tile floor can cause someone to trip.
5. Level changes: Unexpected slopes in the floor or raises of three steps or less can contribute to accidents.
6. Obstructions: extension cords, hoses and other foreign items make for an unsafe obstacle course.
7. Visibility: Poor lighting, but also glare, shadows, too-bright lights and color contrasts can all impede visibility.
8. Human factors: These include different physical abilities, physical challenges, shoe types and familiarity with a certain area.
9. Stairs: Falls from stairs (defined as more than three steps) typically result in the most serious injuries.
10. Unusual features: This is defined as anything that could distract a walker, such as loud noises and strobe or flashing lights.