Segregate Wet Cleaned Floors to Control Slips (Trips and Falls) Risks

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

  • "Mop-dry" floors can be particularly hazardous as they look dry but are still slippery
  • 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 as a wet floor but it may look dry thus removing the visual prompt to proceed with caution. Prevent or limit access until the floor is fully dry
  • Segregate the wet, damp or drying floor area with a physical barrier or cordon until fully dry
  • Segregation must not prevent emergency access/egress
  • Where possible, clean the floors of rooms when they are unoccupied and prevent access until the floor is fully dry
  • For larger floor areas, it may be necessary to wet-clean the floor in sections, segregating each section until fully dry

Segregation of wet floor

  • Carefully control the use of "wet floor" signs. Signs were present in over half of floor wet-cleaning slip, trip and fall accidents reviewed. Signs should only be used after all other possible safeguards have been tried

HSE UK’s publication Research into the behavioural aspects of slips and trip accidents and incidents - Part 1: Literature review (40 pages) provides useful information. It says

  • For programmed/ routine floor cleaning, use a system that keeps pedestrians away from wet/ moist floors, e.g. physical barriers. Segregation of wet floors must not prevent emergency access or egress.
  • Warning signs alone may not be adequate for many circumstances

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. 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 fully 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

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

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