When it comes to the safety of employees and clients, it’s better to be proactive than reactive. Take flooring, for instance. It’s crucial to have walking and working surfaces in the workplace that are safe and appropriate. This reduces the risk of slip and fall accidents, plus other hazards.
As part of your floor safety program, it’s important to assess the condition of your floors in your place of business. Ask yourself, “Are these floors the safest option for my clients and employees?” Perhaps there have already been reports filed concerning floor-related accidents, or you think the existing flooring carries a high risk of accidents and poses other concerns. Read on to find out about the common floor-related hazards in the workplace, their consequences, and what you can do to take your floor safety program to the next level.
As a business owner, it’s crucial to be aware of some of the most common hazards that employees face in the workplace when it comes to flooring. That said, here’s a look at some of the most common flooring hazards found in the workplace.
In many working environments, identifying potential hazards is one of the key steps in eliminating or reducing the risk of injury or illness. Floor safety is one very common workplace hazard, particularly slippery floors. Although slippery floors can result in many workplace injuries, you still find that some facilities aren’t cited for slippery floors when a job hazard assessment is performed. That’s because slippery floors can’t be linked to a specific hazardous chemical or risky procedure, yet they pose a real danger. Therefore, even if you do your best to train workers to handle hazardous chemicals carefully or follow standard operating procedures, they can be caught unawares by slippery flooring.
Slippery floors can cause a person to lose balance quickly, and that fall can result in severe injuries if there’s dangerous machinery nearby. Even the most careful employee might be in for a surprise fall because the walking surface lacks enough friction. Sometimes, your employees learn to be cautious and walk carefully when nothing is done to fix the situation, but what about clients who have just visited the facility and aren’t aware of the slippery floors? To avoid such scenarios, it’s essential to actively target slip, trip, and fall hazards at your facility.
In many working environments, the floor can pose a serious risk if it’s uneven. This can usually happen for several reasons. For instance, when the surface is worn out, it often gets bumpy, cracked, or damaged, making it easier for employees to slip and fall. Uneven floors can also be described as non-ergonomic floors. That’s because, when employees are working, they have to struggle to maintain their balance or walk properly on such a surface. This results in excess strain, causing employees to feel worn out. The risk increases further because, when employees are quickly worn out because of poor working conditions, they’re more likely to make mistakes.
There are different materials used for flooring, including vinyl, carpeting, tile, stone, and hardwood, and they can all become uneven with time. If the damage isn’t addressed immediately, it’s important to install caution signs around the area to make clients and employees aware of the danger. When assessing your existing flooring for hazards caused by unevenness, watch out for floors that are warped and curled up at the edges. You should also check for loose and uneven tiles or hardwood floors that have cracked and warped. Even if the flooring is new, it could still be uneven because of improper installation. The sub-level flooring might not have been leveled or treated properly before the new flooring material was installed.
Dirty flooring is a particular concern in heavily trafficked working environments. This accelerates the rate at which dirt and grime build up. For instance, in a restaurant environment, it’s all too easy for slippery oils to stain the floor surface and remove traction, which increases the risk of employees, clients, and vendors slipping and falling. Additionally, when the floor isn’t regularly cleaned, grime and debris build up, resulting in an uneven surface that makes it tricky to stand or walk over. This can happen in other work environments, such as in places where there’s industrial flooring. The truth is that it’s natural for dirt to build up on floors over time.
However, some floors require more maintenance than others because they accumulate dirt quickly or become damaged easily, creating natural tripping hazards. With floors like these, having a proper cleaning program isn’t enough. Let’s say the floor has to be cleaned more frequently. This might mean doing it while work is being done or while customers are around. That means there’ll be many people walking over wet surfaces, thus creating a hazardous environment. In that case, it’s better to opt for flooring that requires low maintenance and doesn’t trap dirt easily.
If the workplace flooring in your place of business isn’t safe, this can lead to the following costly situations.
One of the consequences of unsafe floors is that they can affect employee health. A lack of cleanliness creates an environment where bacteria and germs can thrive. This is especially true in environments that experience a large amount of footfall all the time. When germs thrive, they spread onto other workplace surfaces where they can easily come into contact with employees, who are usually the first to be affected. Germs and diseases cause illness, so productivity will ultimately suffer as employees are forced to take sick days to recover. What’s worse is that filthy floors perpetuate this scenario such that you have employees that constantly need to take time off from work.
If your dirty floors cause illness, this could potentially affect customers, too. The moment this links back to your business, it’s easy for your reputation to get damaged. When customers, investors, or vendors associate your premises with uncleanliness, you have failed to make a good impression, and this can have a negative impact on your sales. In addition, if there are too many employees calling in sick, you may struggle to meet demand or achieve the required productivity levels. Ultimately, this could harm your bottom line.
Health and safety in the workplace is something that’s subject to the rules and regulations of your state. As a commercial enterprise, there are regulations and stipulations you must follow. For instance, for commercial floors to be deemed safe, they have to be even and smooth with no holes. They shouldn’t be slippery and should have an effective method of drainage where necessary. Additionally, floors must not have obstructions or anything that could cause someone to slip, trip, or fall. These rules are common sense and exist to ensure that employers install the correct flooring to prevent accidents. Businesses that don’t comply may face steep fines and penalties.
This isn’t the only cost. According to the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI), the cost of compensation and medical costs related to employee slip and fall accidents add up to roughly $70 billion each year. That means if the workplace floor isn’t suitable for the type of activity taking place on it or contains many hazards, you could be opening yourself to costly lawsuits. Slip-and-fall lawsuits can also harm your company’s reputation if there’s proof of negligence. However, if you do everything you can to ensure your floors are clean, you’re less likely to be liable for these injuries.
When the workplace floor isn’t in the best condition, it can constantly disrupt operations. For example, let’s say there’s a high incidence of slips and falls at your work because the floors aren’t safe. In that case, employees may have to stop what they’re doing to attend to their injured colleagues. This negatively affects productivity and isn’t good for business. Additionally, if you don’t have a proper maintenance program, this can accelerate the wear and tear on floorings, leading to corrosion and structural damage.
These issues take longer to fix, and you might be forced to halt operations during the process. It’s better to implement strategies that prevent the build-up of dirt and other contaminants in the first place. You can avoid spending lots of money by being proactive about workplace floor safety. It’s either you invest money in keeping your floors safe or you lose more when your operations are disrupted because the workplace is hazardous to employee health and safety.
Below, we address the top things you can do to ensure workplace flooring is safe for employees and clients.
One of the best investments you can make to ensure floor safety is to invest in a self leveling concrete system. This is usually the easiest solution when you need to repair damaged flooring. For starters, self leveling concrete refers to a mixture made from cement, which is very similar to concrete. However, it’s different from concrete because it flows and sets more quickly. It’s also easy to install; all you have to do is mix the product with water, pump it, and then pour it into place. When you spread a self leveling concrete system, it continues to flow evenly. Therefore, it levels out on its own, hence the name.
That means you can easily install a floor that’s smooth and flat. The bonus is that the self leveling concrete system sets quickly, so it’s ready to use in a short amount of time. When you use a self leveling concrete system for subflooring, you’re off to a good start because, by the time you install tile or other floor coverings, you can expect the final results to be stable and even. You can also use a self leveling concrete system to smooth out flooring imperfections that constitute a safety hazard. For example, if your floor has low spots and needs to be smoothed, you don’t have to rip out the floor and start from scratch. Instead, you can use a self leveling concrete system to salvage the existing surface.
Besides using a self leveling concrete system, one way to ensure that workplace floors are safe is to implement a good maintenance program. It’s expected that the floor will get dirty if there are people walking all over the surface and contaminating it. At the end of each workday, there’s bound to be all sorts of debris stuck to your floor, which needs to be removed before it constitutes a slipping and tripping hazard. Good maintenance should incorporate a regular cleaning schedule. It should also aim to keep floors dry during working times, especially in an environment where a lot of spills and leaks occur. It’s best to have someone in charge who understands the principles of good maintenance, such as removing obstacles and clutter from walkways and covering cables that cross walkways.
One of the best ways to ensure that workplace floors are safe is by enlisting the help of professionals. For example, when using a self leveling concrete system, it’s better to have the work done by professionals that understand your flooring needs. Remember, floorings have to be suited to the activity taking place. In restaurants where there are spills of grease and water, the flooring needs to be slip resistant while hospitals require flooring solutions that are hygienic and safe. Similarly, industrial flooring needs to be durable enough to cope with heavy traffic while lowering the risk of slips and trips. The right professionals can help you install quality commercial flooring that meets all safety measures.
When you regularly evaluate the condition of flooring surfaces and take steps to ensure they’re clean and safe, you’re lowering the risk of future slips or falls and eliminating other issues that can interrupt operations in your facility. You’re also eliminating the many expenses that come along with these things. Implementing the right strategies, such as a self leveling concrete system, is the right way to do things, so start making your business facility or workplace a safer place for everyone. Get in touch with Collins Concrete Coating today to learn more about how we can help you improve your floor safety program.