Retail environments are busy places with a lot of activity and foot traffic.
This can easily lead to employees and customers alike being exposed to slip, trip and fall hazards.
You must make sure everyone is kept safe from harm by assessing the risk from slips, trips and falls – and taking reasonable precautions.
Daily hazards inside retail outlets include liquid or powder spills, objects in aisles, uneven floors, inappropriate footwear, and distracted people.
Entrances and exits present particular risks especially when the weather is bad. Indeed, slips and trips are the most common cause of major injuries in retailing. Most incidents happen when:
- Smooth cleaned floors are left wet
- Spills are not cleaned up quickly and effectively
- Floors are not kept free from contamination.
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) say 95% of major slips result in broken bones – making it vital you know how to keep your store as safe as possible. The good news is while slips, trips and falls are common, they are almost always preventable – and the solutions are often simple and cost effective.
According to the HSE, effective matting systems can greatly reduce slipping incidents. Combating dirt and moisture at the entrance should be a high priority.
Entrance mats can be complemented by placing rubber mats, also known as scraper mats, outside to serve as an additional barrier. Removing dirt and moisture before it enters also reduces the need for mopping and sweeping throughout the day.
BS 7953 states entrance flooring systems should scrape, wipe and retain. Experts recommend using mats with non-skid backs that extend at least 10 feet – this can more readily be achieved by placing matting both inside and outside entrances.
While entrances are high risk, it is important to place mats in all areas that could become slick. For instance, the walkway between a back room and main store should be protected to keep dust and other particles from spreading throughout. A risk assessment will be able to identify and proactively protect high risk areas.
It is important you communicate the specifics of your floor safety measures to all employees and provide necessary training to make sure procedures are understood and correctly followed. You should anticipate spills and proactively plan to reduce risk. All spills should be immediately cleaned.
People often slip on floors that are left wet after cleaning. Ideally, access to smooth wet floors should be stopped – by using barriers or cleaning in sections – signs and cones only warn of a hazard and do not prevent people from entering the area. If the spill is not visible it is usually ignored.
Employees should be instructed to monitor the store and immediately alert cleaning staff if hazards are spotted. Customers can also be protected by having adequate lighting in all areas and enforcing a zero-tolerance policy on leaving unattended items in walkways.
Beyond a matting system, it is important you maintain floors on a daily basis by, for example, pairing cleaning items such as mops with the right cleaning chemicals for different floor surfaces.
By having mops for specific areas, you will prevent cross contamination between departments – mops used in the restroom should not be used in the produce department. Periodic deep cleaning should be carried out to break down build-up and remove dirt from tiles and carpeted areas. Regular maintenance not only helps keep surfaces safe but will also extend the life of your flooring.
Top floor safety tips include:
- Making sure aisles are free of clutter and other trip hazards
- Providing clean-up supplies at convenient locations
- Using the right amount of cleaning product
- Maintaining cleaning equipment
- Keeping flooring in good repair – monitor its physical state – look out for loose tiles or torn vinyl
- Placing water-absorbent mats near entrances and areas where water, ice or snow may be tracked inside
- Training employees to identify and prevent slip, trip and fall hazards.
Employees can help by:
- Pushing – rather than pulling – carts to allow better sight
- Walking cautiously and making wide turns at corners
- Looking out for floor spills/debris
- Disposing of packing material and other wrappings carefully – not leaving them lying around
- Cleaning surfaces as soon as they become wet
- Placing barriers/warning signs in wet floor areas and removing them when clean and dry.