Spills are more than an unsightly, sticky mess—they’re an undeniable health risk. Wet floors are the biggest cause of slips, trips and falls, responsible for a staggering nine million hospital visits each year, according to the National Safety Council as reported in Chain Store Age. These incidents cost approximately $21,000 each and while bad lighting or uneven flooring cause their share of accidents, wet floors account for 80% of events.
A rapid and thorough response to cleaning spills will help prevent the high cost of spills, protect employee and customer health, and safeguard your business’s reputation.
Is That Water?
Retail floors get wet in a variety of ways. Inclement weather is an obvious culprit as customers track in rain, snow, ice and mud. Walk-off mats placed inside the entrance are surprisingly effective at trapping this kind of moisture and dirt. The ISSA estimates that indoor mats potentially contain 85% of outside contaminants. Combine them with rubber scraper mats placed just outside the building to increase overall effectiveness.
Indoor mats prevent slips and falls in other high-risk areas too. Grocery store produce sections, for instance, get slick from dropped and stomped grapes, and around vegetable misters and cut flower displays. Self-serve soda fountains are another good spot for an absorbent floor mat.
While walk-off mats are effective, even the most comprehensive system can’t stop dripping umbrellas and coats as customers cruise up and down aisles. And spills, from knocked over displays to dropped personal beverages, happen no matter the weather. Accidents like this are a safety risk for sure but some liquids like vinegar, pickle juice and wine can permanently damage your facility by staining flooring materials.
The Dry Look
Training staff to clean up wet floors immediately remains the best method of cleaning spills. Chain Store Age even suggests that large retailers employ greeters to monitor water at entryways. No matter the size of your operation a clear protocol of how to clean a spill and who is responsible for the task remains essential.
While reaching for a mop and bucket may seem like the obvious approach, the technology may make things worse. Equipment used to clean restrooms should not be used as they can cross contaminate other retail areas. But even a fresh mop does a poor job of fully removing spills as they leave floors wet for up to 30 minutes. Ironically, 10% of slip, trip and fall accidents are caused by tripping over “Wet Floor” signs. A spill should not be considered removed until the floor is fully clean and dry.
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Amy Milshtein covers design, facility management and business topics for a variety of trade publications and consumer magazines.
Her work has won several awards, most recently a regional silver Azbee Award of Excellence.
She lives in Portland, OR with her family and Clyde, a 15-lb tabby cat. Once an avid hiker, these days she finds herself on the less-challenging -but-still-exciting 'creaky knees' trails.