Segregate Wet and Damp Floors to Control Slip Risks

Co-op prosecuted over pensioner’s fatal slip UPDATE (June, 2017) - "the aisle had not been cordoned off "

Employee who slipped in toilet and fractured his wrist awarded €65,000 (April, 2018) - "... cleaner ...removed the cleaning sign from the doorway when the floor was still wet after cleaning"

Steve Thorpe from HSL demonstrates pendulum slip resistance results of a dry floor, a wet floor and a “cleaned” floor (6 min, 7 second video)

  • "Mop-dry" floors can be particularly hazardous as they look dry but are still slippery. Prevent or limit access until the floor is bone-dry
  • Ensure proper safeguards if using a method that limits the amount of liquid on the floor such as spray mopping. A damp floor can be more dangerous than a wet floor as it may be just as slippery but it may look dry thus removing the visual warning. Prevent or limit access until the floor is bone-dry
  • Segregate wet, damp or drying floor areas with a physical barrier or cordon until bone-dry - Segregation must not prevent emergency access/egress
  • For larger floor areas, it may be necessary to wet-clean the floor in sections, segregating each section until bone-dry

Segregation of wet floor

A review of slip, trip and fall accidents where the floor was being wet cleaned showed that signs were ineffective in preventing all slips, trips and falls on wet floors.

cleaning STF signs stats

Findings Regarding Segregation of Wet Floors

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In 2012, 28% of 1,745 HSA workplace visits found the employer did not have a procedure to use a barrier or cordon to keep pedestrians off wet floors.

Barrier or Cordon procedure

A procedure to use a barrier or cordon to keep pedestrians off wet floors was found in over 60% of healthcare (88%), wholesale, retail (74%), public administration (74%), transport (71%), manufacturing (67%) and water supply, sewerage (61%) workplaces. Such a procedure was not applicable in the majority of agriculture (79%), construction (70%) and mining & quarrying (69%) premises. This could be because these sectors include large external areas or wet-working areas.

Drying wet-cleaned floors

  • Floor drying methods can reduce the drying time but may not leave a floor totally dry. Partial floor drying can increase the risk of slips by removing the visual prompt to proceed with caution
  • "Mop-dry" floors can be very slippery
  • A dry mop, well-wrung mop or squeegee can reduce floor-drying time but a slip risk remains
  • Exercise caution if using floor squeegees or scrubber-dryers with a squeegee which may not leave a floor bone-dry as the squeegee may be worn/ damaged
  • Sufficient time must be allowed for floors to dry thoroughly
    • It is not possible to establish a universal floor drying time
    • Consider the potential to leave the floor to dry when the premises is unoccupied
    • Floors take longer to dry at lower temperatures, e.g. cold rooms
    • Damp meters are ineffective to find out if all floor surfaces are dry and safe

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HSE UK has a wide range of case studies including housekeeping and cleaning regimes

Assessment of Slip Risks from Floor Cleaning

Floor cleaning is an important part of Slip Risk Assessment and Prevention

risk assessment approach to Floor Wet Cleaning slips (trips and falls) can include the following steps

  1. Identify Risks
  2. Communicate
  3. Replace
  4. Reschedule
  5. Equip
  6. Segregate