Over 50% of slip, trip and fall incidents are caused by problems with the walking surface, according to the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI). Sometimes, a floor is inherently slippery unless it is treated – like smooth marble or granite that is often used in building foyers. Other times something wet – like rain, melting snow or a spill is the culprit. Even dry contaminants like sawdust or sugar can cause floor safety problems.

Some problems may seem hard to avoid, but keeping floors as clean and dry as possible is one of the foremost ways to help avoid slip and fall incidents. It can also help prevent premature wear and costly floor replacement expenses.

Another way to help minimize the potential for slip and fall injuries and add longevity to walking surfaces is to evaluate each type of floor in the workplace and make sure that improper cleaning methods aren’t contributing to unsafe conditions. Three common floor cleaning problems that can contribute to unsafe walking surfaces are using the wrong:

Cleaning product, Cleaning method, Frequency for cleaning

No single cleaning method or product will work on every surface. In fact, trying to consolidate the number of cleaning products or using the same cleaning method and frequency throughout the facility could be part of the problem if floors are slippery.

To get started, document the different types of walking surfaces at the facility. Carpet, wood, linoleum, tile and stone are all common in office and even production areas. Concrete is common in production, storage and distribution areas. When dealing with concrete, note whether it is sealed, epoxy coated, brushed or acid etched. Each of these variations can change cleaning and care methods.

Next, look at how each surface is currently being cleaned and maintained. At this point, there are no wrong answers. Which cleaner or cleaners are being used? How often is each area cleaned?

If walking surfaces have been evaluated with a tribometer to determine their coefficient of friction, what were the findings? If any areas had an especially low rating, what is causing it?

Sometimes, a floor is past its prime and just needs to be replaced. An area with crumbling concrete, or wooden areas with warped and uneven floorboards are two examples.

For floors that “look okay,” resurfacing them may help to eliminate or minimize slipperiness. Epoxy, non-slip or other floor preparations can add years to a walking surface, make it safer and improve the overall appearance of an area. Even something as simple and low-cost as stripping multiple layers of old wax and replacing it with a single, fresh coat can change the safety dynamics of a floor for the better.

Installing a new floor or investing in costly floor coatings aren’t things that most facilities want to do very often. That’s why it pays to care for them properly so that they remain safe and at their best.

In some cases – and more often than most people realize – using the wrong cleaner, the wrong amount of cleaner, or applying it the wrong way is the problem. When this is the case, solutions can be very inexpensive.