Prevent Slips and Falls with a Floor Mat Program

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
How do we prevent a fall?
Clean floors can help with that,
And don’t forget the floor mat!

The average person walks over 8,000 steps a day. All it takes is one slip and fall and your life could be changed in an instant. According to the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI): “Falls account for over 8 million hospital emergency room visits, representing the leading cause of visits (21.3%). Slips and falls account for over 1 million visits, or 12% of the total falls.” What can we do as employers to protect our employees and customers from slips and falls? One of the best places to start is with a proper floor mat program.

The Standard Guide for Commercial Entrance Matting in Reducing Slips, Trips and Falls was developed by NFSI and ANSI (American National Standards Institute) called ANSI/NFSI B101.6-2012. This standard is a great reference for preventing slips and falls using floor matting. A floor mat is simply a temporary floor covering designed to remove dirt, moisture, and other debris from foot traffic entering your building. Indoor floor mats provide a slip-resistant walking surface and are the first defense in preventing slips and falls for individuals entering your building.

 What should you look for in a floor mat?  A floor mat should have a slip resistant rubber backing that prevents the mat from moving across the floor. Look for a label on the back of the mat from the NFSI that certifies the mat has been tested by NFSI to assure a high level of slip resistance. Floor mats exceeding ¼” thickness should have the edges beveled to prevent possible tripping hazards. The slope of the bevel should not be greater than 1:2 and the color should contrast with the floor for easy visibility.

Where should floor mats be placed? The obvious place for a floor mat is by the entrances and exits of your building as these are the high traffic areas. Mats are also needed in areas where floors can be wet including drink dispensers, ice machines, sinks, and dishwashing areas.

Now that you have the proper floor mats in the proper locations, have you prevented all slip, trip and fall exposures? Not quite.

Floor mats are a viable source for preventing slip and fall exposures, but maintenance is critical. Floor mats need to be cleaned regularly to remove dirt and moisture from the mats in order for the mats to continue to be effective. Mats that are worn, damaged, or have curling edges increase potential tripping exposures and should be replaced immediately.

It doesn’t matter if you own the floor mats or rent them from a service. Floor mats need to be the proper type, in good condition, and properly maintained to help reduce slip and fall exposures at your facility. Remember that cheap does not always equal effective. Contact your local floor mat company to discuss the size and number of mats you need to protect your employees and customers. Then decide if it is more economical to own or rent the rugs.

For more on the importance of floor mats to prevent workplace slips and falls, don’t miss our video training session, “Slips, Trips & Falls Risk Management: Floor Mats.”

When it comes to risk management, prevention is key – and Society’s online Risk Control Library is a valuable resource. Click on your line of business and check out the Slips and Falls category for posters on cleaning floors and spills, as well as additional videos to help facilitate your safety efforts.

-Paul Fuerbringer

Author

Paul is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater with a degree in Occupational Safety. He is a Certified Safety Professional (CSP) with over 33 years of experience in the safety field.

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