It may come as a surprise to learn that slips and trips are the cause of nearly 40% of serious injuries in the workplace. As well as being potentially dangerous in themselves, slips and trips are often the start of other accidents, through collisions, falls on stairs or other incidents involving heights. Many of the risks leading to slips and falls can be reduced by paying attention to health and safety issues, and so it makes sense to make floor safety a priority. Implementing appropriate industrial floor cleaning processes is key to this; here are some thoughts and suggestions:
Risk assessment - why it's smart to be tidy
All employers are responsible for the health and safety of their employees and visitors to their premises - it's the law. When it comes to floor surfaces, a full risk assessment will help you identify any potential risk points. How does your floor surface shape up? Is there any damage or wear? Are tiles or carpets lifting? Is it clean and clear of machinery or other items? Are there murky unlit corners that would benefit from better lighting? Perhaps that leaky outer door needs fixing so that the rain doesn't seep in across the floor. What about clutter - are there floor surface hotspots where items tend to be abandoned?
Converting paperwork into an action plan
A risk assessment is more than just legal paperwork - it's your plan of action for a safer workplace, so make sure your employees are aware of what's happening, and above all, get them involved. Encourage them to identify areas of potential risk and to come up with suggestions for improvement. Having a sense of ownership in a project or plan is fundamental to its success. Above all, cultivate the outlook that potential hazards need to be tackled immediately and welcome ideas for safety improvements from your staff. If you haven't already done so, consider the use of professional commercial floor cleaning, since using specialist machinery operated by trained staff may work out to be the safest, most economic and effective option.
Floor cleaning with health and safety in mind
Health and safety awareness is an ongoing, not a finite, process. It's a state of mind that needs to be encouraged until it becomes second nature. Here are some pointers to promoting the health and safety approach to floor cleaning:
Training, tools and techniques
• Make sure floors are always clear and clean, with no trailing wires
• Use an appropriate cleaning method for the type of floor
• Clean up quickly after a spill
• Identify potentially hazardous spills and know how to tackle them
• Wherever possible, cordon off areas that are being cleaned until the task is complete and the area is dry
• Make sure all cleaning staff are appropriately dressed and trained
Having identified that floor condition and cleanliness is one of the key factors in maintaining safety in the workplace, it's clear that any time, training and equipment investments relating to floor cleaning are worthwhile. Whilst every organisation has its own unique issues when it comes to health and safety assessments, there are free checklist templates available which can be adapted to individual needs, ensuring that regular risk assessments are carried out on floor safety. It's vital that cleaning staff are not only properly trained in handling equipment but also receive regular refresher courses, since they are the personnel who will assure the success of your health and safety floor cleaning programme.