Preventing Slips Trips And Falls In The Workplace With Floor Safety

Everyone wants to reduce the risk of slips, trips, and falls. Learn how regular maintenance can be part of your overall floor safety plan.


 Slippery when wetThe safety of your tenants, prospects, and customers is a top priority. You worry about the costs associated with slip and fall accidents that occur on your property — including medical bills, litigation fees, and lost productivity. As you know, there are many issues to address in your organization’s risk management program. One crucial element is to implement a strategy for preventing slip, trip, and fall (STF) accidents by keeping your floor safe. Why are slips, trips, and falls such a big deal?
  • Approximately $70 billion each year is spent on medical costs and compensation associated with slip and fall accidents
  • About 8.9 million falls result in an ER visit each year
  • Slip, trip, and fall injuries are responsible for 95 million lost workdays each year

What Causes Slip, Trip and Fall Accidents?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, many factors affect the risk of slip, trip, and fall accidents, including the condition of the floor surface, nature of the work environment, and individual factors such as age and the type of shoes worn.

Contributing Factors to Slips, Trips, and Falls

Workplace Factors

  • Spills
  • Ice, snow, rain
  • Loose mats or rugs
  • Objects obstructing visibility
  • Poor lighting
  • Walking surfaces in disrepair
  • Tripping hazards
Work Organization Factors

  • Fast work pace
  • Risky work tasks — for example, carrying heavy or cumbersome objects
Individual Factors

  • Age
  • Fatigue
  • Poor eyesight
  • Improper footwear

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Any effective risk management plan must address all of these factors. For example, facilities can be designed to be safer for individuals with mobility issues, and when possible, employees should be encouraged to wear high-traction shoes in high-risk areas.

It is also extremely important to pay close attention to the condition of your floor. Did you know that more than half of slips, trips, and falls are attributed to the walking surface?

Causes of Slip, Trip, and Fall Accidents

Walking surface 55%
Footwear 24%
Hazard warning 10%
Training 8%
Fraud 3%

Source: National Floor Safety Institute.

You should be mindful of how both the floor material — such as stone or wood — and maintenance affect floor safety. According to 3M, poorly maintained floors are responsible for more than 2 million customer and employee slip and fall injuries per year.

How Can Floor Maintenance Reduce the Risk of Slips, Trips and Falls?

As you can see, your floor maintenance plan should address both safety concerns and aesthetic appeal.

Many companies are tempted to put off maintenance to save money up front, thinking it will be cheaper just to deal with problems as they happen. In reality, it is the organizations who invest in proactive maintenance up front — including accident prevention — who end up spending less in the long run.

Facility Safety Spending per Employee

Top Companies Industry Average
Pre-Incident $1,228 $425
Post-Incident $253 $2,533
Total $1,481 $2,958

Source: 3M, 2015. Mid America Specialty Services, 2015.

In fact, lack of due diligence in implementing a floor safety program can even be used by plaintiffs as evidence in a negligence claim — in other words, if you aren’t proactively working on floor safety, you could be found guilty of negligence in a slip and fall case!

High Traction: The Key to Floor Safety

One of the most important factors in preventing slip and fall accidents is to make sure all of your floors have high traction. This means that people are less likely to slip and fall when walking across the surface. The National Floor Safety Institute certifies flooring materials and treatments as high traction based on a coefficient of friction, or COF, of 0.60 or higher. To calculate the traction of the walking surface, the NFSI measures the force required to move an object across the floor against the weight of that object. Suppose an object weighs 100 pounds, and it takes 60 pounds of force to move it across the floor:

  • Horizontal force = 60 pounds
  • Vertical force = 100 pounds
  • Coefficient of friction formula: 60/100 = 0.60

In this case, the COF is 0.60, which, again, is the minimum for a surface to be certified as high-traction. The NFSI calculates COF for wet and dry surfaces, and for static and moving objects.

  • Static coefficient of friction (SCOF): force required for an object to begin moving across a surface
  • Dynamic coefficient of friction (DCOF): force required to keep an object moving across a surface

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has several floor safety guidelines, some of which include COF as an important factor:

  • Do adjacent walking surfaces in your organization have similar COFs?
  • Is the wet SCOF of your floors rated 0.6 or higher?
  • Does your organization have a program for regularly cleaning its floors?
  • Are floors in your organization treated with high traction finish?

How Do You Maintain a High Traction Surface?

Besides choosing non-slip flooring materials, the ease of periodic inspection and refinishing can help you maintain a high-traction, non-skid finish. For example, one advantage of the 3M™ Stone Floor Protection System is that it uses a simple, three-step process that restores, protects, and maintains the appearance and safety of your floors.

It’s ideal for marble, terrazzo, concrete, and other porous stone floors. As a key part of this system, the Scotchgard™ Stone Floor Protector creates an NFSI-certified high traction, anti-slip coating for your floor with just two coats. NFSI certification means that this product can help you reduce the risk of slips and falls.

If you have questions about including floor safety in your proactive maintenance plan, contact us. With the right strategy, you can create a safer environment for tenants, customers, and everyone who enters your building!

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