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Floor Safety


Accidents and injuries caused by Slips and Trips can be avoided by taking simple precautions to ensure that floors are safe. In the event that an accident does occur, the impact of any subsequent legal claims can be reduced by demonstrating that all reasonable steps were taken to make the floors safe. Check out our Free Apps to help you manage your floors.
banana skin floors

Four Steps to Floor Safety


1. Choose the right Flooring Material for the location and the activities it supports
2. Check that the floor is being cleaned according to the manufacturer's recommendations
3. If the floor can get wet from rainwater on peoples' feet make sure that the Barrier Mats are working
4. If the floor can get wet from spilled liquids or ineffective mats, make sure that Spill Management is in place
 
Check out how safe your floors are by using our Accident Estimator described in more detail in the section below
  
Open-Close Section  Accident Estimator
Accidents don't just happen - they can be predicted.
 
We have created a simple estimation tool that can give you an indication of how safe your floors are. By using simple sliders you can set the conditions that apply to your building. To help you we've included pictures and hints for typical locations. Choose the settings nearest to your situation.
 
The result is shown as the number of Accidents that can be expected every year in that location. Bearing in mind that the average cost in cash of a slip accident is around £15,000 you can work out what your costs are going to be.
 
1. Firstly estimate how many people are crossing the floor every day.

2. Then estimate the dominant behaviour of the people using the floor. If people slip on a slippery floor whether they can recover their balance or fall over depends on what they are doing and their physical condition. If they are running or carrying something they are less likely to recover. If they are fit and agile they will recover better than someone that is less able.

3. Estimate the chances of the floor getting wet because of spills of liquids or food. The chances will be higher near vending machines and water fountains. In a cafeteria or restaurant the chances are much higher. In places like kitchens or bathrooms spills happen all the time.

4. Make an honest estimate of how spills are dealt with. If spills are a constant hazard then people should be wearing safety footwear. Next best is that there are procedures in place for the immediate clean up of any spills. Just putting up warning signs is almost useless and of course doing nothing will result in very dangerous floors. See our Spill Management App that can provide records to show that you are dealing with spills effectively.

5. The most common reason that floors get wet is rainwater that it is carried into the premises on the feet of visitors. If this is likely to happen then effective barrier mats should be installed. In the UK there is a 30% probability on average that it will rain on any particular day. Worn or dirty mats are almost as bad as having none at all. Check out our Barrier Mat Monitoring App that will enable you to keep track of their condition.

6. Finally the most crucial factor is the slipperiness of the floor. All floors are more slippery when they are wet from spills or rain. Slipperiness is measured as the Slip Resistance Value (SRV). An SRV of 36 for a wet floor means that there is a one in a million chance of a slip happening. This is the figure normally quoted for 'Safety Flooring'. However the SRV on ordinary floors can easily drop 20 points or more when they get wet. Ideally you should get the floor SRV measured by an expert. Until you can get that done we have included some examples of typical floors and their wet SRV values. Choose the floor type that is nearest to yours. Worn or highly polished floors will be worse than the example given. We have a Slip Measurement App that records the state of the floors in the format required by BS7976.
 
Click here to open the Accident Estimation App
accident_estimator
Open-Close Section         Floor Material
The biggest factor affecting floor safety is the slipperiness of the floor when it gets wet.

The slipperiness is measured by it Slip Resistance Value or SRV. This is a scale that goes from 0 to 100. The higher the number the more resistance to slipping. The normally accepted safe value for SRV is 36 which corresponds to a probability of slipping of 1 in a million. Safety floors will be advertised as having an SRV of 36 when wet.
 
At an SRV below 20 a slip is almost certain. If the floor can get wet then you should not use a flooring material with an SRV below 36.

The Risk Assessment App  shows the dramatic effect of poor SRV choices and we have a Slip Measurement App that enables you to record the floor surface details according to BS 7976.
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Open-Close Section        Floor Cleaning
Even if the right type of floor has been chosen it can be made ineffective or even ruined by the wrong cleaning methods. Most modern flooring materials are designed to be cleaned effectively with water and a small amount of detergent. 
 
The most common fault is to use too much detergent leading to a build-up of detergent residue on the floor. When this gets wet it is extremely slippery and when its dry it forms a sticky surface that retains the dirt from the shoes of people walking on it.
 
The other major cause of problems is polishing floors so that they lose their slip resistance. This can be caused by scrubbing away the intentionally rough surface of the floor or by filling the rough surface with polish so that it is ineffective. Shiny does not mean safe.
cleaning
Open-Close Section           Barrier Mats
   
 
Effective Barrier Mats are a vital defence against rainwater being carried into the premises on people's feet. In the UK rain can be expected on average on one day in three depending on the season.

If the floor beyond the mats is slippery when wet (and most hard floors are) then the mats must be effective. This means that they must be long enough (7 steps) and clean enough to remove moisture.

Mats that are clogged with dirt are worse than useless as they act as a reservoir for moisture. Use our free Barrier Mat App to keep a record of the state of the mats and how dry they are. If the inner edge of the mat is wet then they are not working.
Barrier Mat Condition
Open-Close Section   Spill Management
Despite all precautions spills can happen at any time. Carried drinks can be dropped or knocked over, especially near vending machines and in cafeterias. Taps can be left running or in places like kitchens and laundries spilled water can be a constant hazard.

If spills can occur it is vital to take quick and effective action to remove or isolate them. If spills are expected because of the environment then people working there should be wearing safety footwear and the floor should be a non-slip type.
 
Barriers should be used to make sure that the clean up process itself does not become a hazard. The picture here shows how not to do it. Our free Spill Management App lets you keep track of spills and the action taken to fix them.
How not to treat a spill incident