Slip Causes and Solutions: Cleaning
Why is cleaning so important?
When is someone likely to slip or trip?
What the law says about Risk management – Employer's responsibilities
Risk management involves an employer looking at the risks that arise in the workplace and then putting sensible health and safety measures in place to control them. By doing this, employees and members of the public will be protected from harm. The law requires an employer to assess and manage health and safety risks - for most businesses this is not difficult to do and for the great majority of risk assessments, the following bullet points should act as a helpful guide:
Step 1: Identify the hazards
Step 2: Decide who might be harmed and how
Step 3: Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions
Step 4: Record your findings and implement them, showing that:
a proper check was madeStep 5: Review your risk assessment and update if necessary Further more detailed information may be found at [insert link]
you asked who might be affected
you dealt with all the obvious significant hazards, taking into account the number of people who could be involved the precautions are reasonable, and the remaining risk is low; and you involved your staff or their representatives in the process
What can be done to prevent slips and trips?
Potential trip hazards associated with cleaning include:
Choosing the right cleaning method
Cleaning chemical – ensuring use of the appropriate cleaning chemical is essential if there is any greasy, oily or limescale contamination on the floor. Water on its own, whether it is cold or warm, is not effective in removing this kind of contamination. The specific contamination removal capabilities of the cleaning chemical should be thoroughly tested before a selection is made, as many general use cleaners are completely ineffective in removing certain types of contamination. Follow the manufacturer's instructions, because too strong a solution can be as ineffective as too weak. The cleaning chemical should be left on the floor for enough time to allow effective removal of grease before rinsing. A useful comparison is washing-up, heavily soiled pots and pans require soak time in the detergent. Agitation can often increase the effectiveness of the cleaning chemical.
Spot cleaning - using a paper towel or rag to remove small areas of water-based contamination from the floor. This is a cheap and effective method of removing water-based spills. It avoids spreading the contamination or increasing the slip risk by mopping a large area. Spot cleaning can be used between scheduled whole-floor cleaning to control contamination. For greasy spills, an appropriate cleaning chemical will be required.
Mopping - is usually only effective on smoother floors because it only skims the surface of the floor, regardless of the effort used. Even a well-wrung mop will leave a thin film of water which is enough to create a slip risk on a smooth floor. Subsequent use of a dry mop will reduce the drying time but will not eliminate the slip risk. Where smooth floors are mopped, take care to make sure the floor is left to dry completely before pedestrians are allowed access. When using a mopping system, it is essential to consider how dirt is removed from the floor and where it goes, and to avoid simply spreading a thin layer of contamination over a whole area. For example, use a separate dirty water bucket for wringing the mop out to increase the dirt removal. Greasy floors require contact time with the chemical solution, for example use an immersion mopping technique, where the detergent is put down in one stage, and mopped up after a soak time in a second stage.
Sweeping brush - on a smooth floor may be adequate to remove dry contaminants. Airborne dust can be created, so this technique should not be used where there are health risks associated with the dust, for example flour, sawdust.
Hose/power washer - with sufficient power can be used to remove dusty or doughy contaminants. The floor will be left wet, so should be rough enough not to create a slip risk with the water left behind. Suitable drainage will be required. For greasy contamination, an appropriate cleaning chemical will be required.
Squeegee - can be effective in removing excess water after cleaning, to reduce drying time. The floor will not be left dry and will still present a slip risk. If a floor is rough enough to be left wet, the volume of water is not important and a squeegee is unnecessary. Where oily or greasy contamination is present, the squeegee can have the effect of spreading a thin layer of contamination over a wider area, or forcing it into the surface. This may result in a floor that is more difficult to clean.
Wet vacuum cleaner - effective at cleaning up liquid spills. This is more effective on smooth floors which can be left completely dry.
Dry vacuum cleaner - effective at cleaning up dry/dusty contaminants. This is often effective on rougher floors. It avoids the creation of airborne dust. If the dust creates a health risk, make sure the filter is suitable.
Scrubber-drier machines - can be an effective way to clean most kinds of flooring. Different designs of scrubber-drier lend themselves to different situations. The squeegee needs to be wide enough to recover all the water put down by the scrubber-drier. Single scrubber machines tend to throw water out to one side, and may require an asymmetric squeegee to recover this. The squeegee needs to be well maintained to ensure there is no leakage, which may, for example leave a smooth floor dangerously wet. On very rough or profiled surfaces the squeegee may not be flexible enough to allow adequate removal of water from the surface. On greasy floors a suitable cleaning chemical should be used to remove and hold the oil or grease in the water. The operator should be trained in the correct use of the machine, for example using the appropriate level of water for the floor surface, to reduce leaking and water trails.