Grocery store professionals know spills on grocery store floors can cause slip and fall accidents. Very often, these spills result when breakable containers fall and splash their wet and liquid contents onto the floor. However, there are several other ways moisture can find its way onto grocery store floors, and these can be just as dangerous.
Sources of Standing Moisture in Grocery Stores:
- Leaking refrigeration equipment
- Melting snow and ice during the winter season
- Children spilling drinks
- Moisture build-up from produce misters
- Water-line leaks to misters
Further, spills can be costly in many ways. The National Floor Safety Institute, a non-profit organization that tracks slip and fall accidents in the U.S., reports the following facts.
Slip and Fall Facts
- Falls represent more than 20 percent of all hospital emergency room visits.
- The CDC reports that two million people over the age of 65 are treated in emergency rooms each year due to falls, many of them the result of walking on slippery floors.
- Slips and falls are the primary cause of lost workdays in the U.S.
- Slips and falls are the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims.
- Medical costs for employee slip and falls are more than $70 billion annually.
- Legal fees defending against slip and fall claims cost an average of $50,000 per incident.
7 Tips for Cleaning Spills from Grocery Store Floors
While we may not be able to prevent spills and moisture from getting onto grocery store floors, steps can be taken to clean them up quickly to help prevent accidents. These include the following:
- Place warning cones around the immediate spill area and as much as 10 feet from the incident, giving shoppers ample notice to be careful ahead.
- Warning cones come in colors. According to OSHA, the preferred cone color is orange, or yellow if orange is not available. Orange communicates to walkers that there is “risk” ahead; yellow suggests that “caution” is warranted. All lettering on the cone should be in a contrasting color, usually black.
- Often glass and debris must be picked up after a spill. Before doing so, make sure staff wear work gloves designed to protect hands from broken glass.
- For those tasked with cleaning up spills, be sure they do not wear dress shoes; many spills contain oils that can cause the soles of dress shoes to become very slippery.
- After cleaning the area, leave warning cones around the immediate spill area for 15 minutes to ensure the site is now clean and dry.
- Always remove warning cones once the area is safe. Remember, warning cones serve a purpose: they warn walkers of danger ahead. Leaving them up after the area is safe may cause some people to ignore them in the future.
- Avoid using mops; mops spread oil, debris, and moisture as they are used, increasing the chances for slips and falls.
Spill Cleanup Minus the Mop
This last point may need further explanation. Grocery store professionals should know that mopping floors is now considered unacceptable in the professional cleaning industry.
For one reason, we have known since the early 1970s that mopping floors can spread germs and bacteria. Because we have more direct and indirect contacts with floors than we realize, this is a cause for concern when it comes to stopping the transmission of disease. Further, with COVID-19, these concerns have multiplied.
So, if mops are no longer acceptable to clean up spills, what options are available?
These systems are walked over the floor, allowing a controlled amount of fresh cleaning solution to be released. With the AutoVac, a microfiber pad at the rear of the machine provides agitation. Soils loosened by the pad are then vacuumed up by the machine.
The Dispense-and-Vac system has a brush attachment that can be used to help loosen soils if added agitation is necessary. Once again, moisture, soils, and contaminants are vacuumed up. This is why some of the largest retailers in the country trust Kaivac machines to clean up spills quickly, safely, and completely.