A proactive approach to minimizing floor hazards can help reduce workers’ comp and liability costs.
How operators clean and maintain their flooring—versus the floor’s type, finish or cleaner—are the two biggest factors in determining its slip resistance, according to Dave Ludwin, general and products liability risk control director at insurer CNA. "Foodservice operators need to make sure they have the right program in place to protect their employees and reduce their exposure to potential liability claims."
According to data compiled by CNA, slip and fall accidents account for more than 21 percent of workers' compensation claims and 59 percent of general liability claim costs. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is currently vetting several standards to help measure the effectiveness of floor care maintenance programs with the goal of improving floor traction and reducing these injuries. The upcoming standards will outline floor safety procedures ranging from walkway auditing to floor safety management programs. Foodservice operators can anticipate these new standards to take effect within the next few months.
Cintas Corp., which sponsored a recent webinar on the subject, suggests the following best practices for reducing slip and fall accidents:
1. Select the best floor material for the area. Consider high-traction floor surfaces for areas where water or grease might gather, such as around dishwashers or grill areas.
2. Identify the right cleaner for the job. Cleaners effective on grease might not be as effective in cleaning up soils with fatty acids, which could result in a slippery surface. Use the proper cleaner for the type of soil targeted.
3. Use the proper cleaning tools and supplies. Tools such as microfiber mops utilize less water, reducing the amount of water required to clean up spills and further eliminating opportunities for slip and fall hazards.
4. Follow manufacturer guidelines. Review the recommended dilution ratios and proper procedures for using cleaning chemicals and equipment. An automated chemical dispensing system will automatically create the proper dilution for optimal cleaning, reduced expense and improved employee safety.
5. Develop a written protocol for floor maintenance. For consistency in the floor-cleaning program, provide a written outline so everyone knows exactly how floors should be cleaned in different parts of the restaurant.
6. Establish a floor-cleaning schedule. Identify frequencies for all levels of floor cleaning, from daily maintenance procedures to deep cleaning.
7. Train staff on floor-cleaning protocol. Demonstrate procedures for placing and cleaning matting, cleaning floors and maintaining the cleaning equipment. If an automated chemical dispensing system is not available, be sure to include training on the proper dilution and handling of chemicals.
8. Follow up to ensure protocol is followed, and hold the staff accountable.
9. Conduct scheduled and surprise audits to inspect floor cleanliness and ensure staff are following the proper procedures.
"No foodservice operator wants a slip and fall accident to occur in their restaurant," says David Collette, director of foodservice marketing for Cintas. "Not only can this result in a worker or patron injury, it can create a public relations nightmare, potentially costing a business thousands in settlement costs and legal fees. With the anticipated ANSI standards on the horizon, foodservice operators can proactively prepare their organization by implementing a program to protect their floors now."
For more information on developing a safe floor program, download Cintas's recent webinar hosted by leading slip-and-fall expert Russ Kendzior, an internationally recognized expert on slip and fall accident prevention and founder of the National Floor Safety Institute; Dennis Fetzer, a casualty claims consultant and leading expert witness in slip and fall accidents; and CNA’s Ludwin.