Step-by-Step: How to Clean Up Spills in the Workplace

Have you ever slipped, tripped or fallen at work? Perhaps you have watched a television show where a slip, trip and fall was the punch line for a joke. Slips, trips and falls are no joke however, and rank among the most frequent types of accidents, second only to motor-vehicle accidents as a cause of death. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “26% of the 8982,730 nonfatal work injuries resulting in days away from work in 2017 were related to slips, trips, and falls. With 44% of Society Insurance claims are related to slips and falls (general liability and workers compensation), businesses can’t afford to not take additional precautions when it comes to cleaning up spills in the workplace.

How to Clean Up Spills in Restaurants, Bars, Grocery Stores & More

  • Identify that a spill has occurred and make sure the source of the spill has stopped making the spill worse.
  • Display wet floor signs to alert customers that the hazard exists.
  • While you retrieve the spill clean-up kit, have someone stand by the spill to alert customers to the spill. Never leave a spill unattended.
  • Sweep up broken glass or other debris.
  • Slop mop the area using an enzyme-based floor cleaner. Leave the chemical to ‘cure’ according to manufacturer guidelines.
  • Leave the wet floor signs in place until the area is completely dry.
  • Brush floor with a stiff bristled brush.
  • Use a squeegee, wet-dry vacuum or dry mop to ensure the area is dry and there is no trace of greasy residue.

Evaluate the Size of the Spill

Before attempting to clean up spills, take the size into consideration. Large spills should be cleaned up slightly differently than a small spill. For example, you wouldn’t attempt to clean up a gallon of spilled liquid with paper towels. Whatever the size of the spill, clean up spills with the appropriate equipment and correct chemicals.

Determine What Was Spilled on the Floor

The more you know the better you can assess and effectively clean up spills in the workplace. Sweet substances like soda, syrups, and high sugar items will likely leave a very sticky residue on the floor. The cleaning chemical used to clean up this type of spill will be different from what you would use on water or more soluble spills.

Tips for Using Floor Cleaning Chemicals

  • Have a systematic procedure for cleaning spills and proper use cases
  • Provide proper training to staff that covers manufacturer guidelines (dry times, etc.)
  • Calibrate pre-mixers
  • Use a deck brush

How to Clean Up Spills by Following Proper Floor Care Procedures

Importance of Slip Resistant Shoes in the Workplace

You may want to strongly consider developing a slip-resistant shoe program, especially if your business is a restaurant or auto service venture. Make slip-resistant shoes a part of the uniform and assure that managers follow up with team members regularly.

Read, ‘Slip-Resistant Shoes for Employees.

Complete Regular Floor Audits

A floor audit or walkway audit is a risk control service designed to reduce the risk of slip and fall injuries. Completing a floor audit and developing a plan to improve floor traction will help to prevent costly customer and employee slip and fall claims in your restaurant, bar, or workplace.

Facts About Slips, Trips and Falls

More than a million people suffer from a slip, trip or fall injury each year; over 17,000 die as a result of a slip and fall alone. Between 20% to 30% of people experience an injury after falling, with an estimated 8.9 million visits to the emergency room every year. The long-term effect of these incidents can increase insurance rates, which leads to an increase in insurance premiums. They not only have a financial impact, but also a personal cost with the temporary or permanent loss of a valued member of the community.

Slips, trips and falls can be a significant problem for a business. However, recommended controls can assist management in avoiding these costly, disruptive and painful occurrences. Customers and employees alike will appreciate the increased effort to improve safety.

Download White Paper: Mitigating Slip & Fall Risks

In this whitepaper we discuss:

  • Identifying and controlling risk.
  • Role of education and training.
  • Employee-specific concerns.
  • How to respond to a slip, trip or fall.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to clean up spills in the workplace, browse our Slips, Trips and Falls blog series.

Stop risk to keep your business going by reading additional whitepapers, case studies and safety resources or contact your local Society agent for more information on coverage related questions.


As a mutual insurance company, we operate and exist for the benefit of our policyholders. For more than 100 years, Society has been helping businesses overcome the unexpected with comprehensive coverage packages and outstanding claims handling, underwriting and risk management.

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