Unsafe Cleaning Practices
Slip-and-fall injuries in Florida occur when there isn’t enough traction or friction between one’s foot and the floor.
At Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, our fall injury attorneys know while there are many potential causes of slip-and-fall accidents, unsafe cleaning practices are often a great contributor. This occurs most often when maintenance staff is not properly trained or doesn’t follow specific instructions with regard to how and when certain floor types should be cleaned and maintained.
Different types of flooring require specific types of care. Some of the best cleaners and finishing materials can be hazardous if they are put on the wrong kind of floor or if they are applied incorrectly to the right kind of floor.
Unsafe cleaning practices might also lead to a slip-and-fall injury if staffers don’t follow procedures for timely and adequate clearing of spills.
Some of the most common mistakes companies make with regard to floor care include:
- Floors that are not totally and properly stripped of the finish that was applied previously;
- Applying floor treatment products too frequently;
- Not properly buffing a surface when it’s necessary;
- Applying too much finishing material;
- Improperly cleaning or scrubbing a surface;
- Not allowing enough drying time;
- Leaving soap residue on the floor;
- Not removing spills in a timely or proper manner.
Given that the average cost of a slip-and-fall claim is $22,000 (and often much more, depending on the severity of an injury), it makes good financial sense for companies to invest in the right products and adequate training.Implementing Proper Spill Response
One of the key elements that slip-and-fall injury lawyers have to prove in order to win a case is that the defendant/property owner had actual or constructive knowledge of the hazard. While actual knowledge may be difficult to definitively prove, constructive knowledge can be shown by indicating the hazard should have been discovered had the defendant exercised ordinary care.
The “ordinary care” standard can be applied to standard cleaning practices and spill response. Companies that have these policies in place, and ensure they are enforced, are far less likely to face down slip-and-fall litigation.
Developing good cleaning procedure means first identifying the common hazards occurring in a given industry, as well as at that specific location and on that specific type of flooring.
For example, in the restaurant industry, slip-and-fall injuries are commonly caused by leaks in equipment, such as water from an ice machine or oil from a deep fryer. There are also hazards that result from spilled food and drink. In retail and grocery stores, water dripping from umbrellas and clothing on rainy days can result in slippery floor surfaces. Recognizing these specific issues and having a plan in place to address and quickly clean them is important.
Employees need to be trained to immediately and properly clean a spill when it happens. Often, that means placing a warning sign right away, and then retrieving the clean-up equipment.
Routine management inspections to ensure proper cleaning procedures are followed might include:
- Walk-throughs of work areas that focus on just general cleanliness;
- Audits of spill response and spill response stations;
- Examining work areas soon after daily cleaning has been done, and sometimes after deep cleaning has been performed.
There are a great many floor treatments that can be used to increase the traction in a floor surface. However, in order to ensure those products work, they have to be used correctly and on the right kind of floor.
It’s important for property owners and management to become educated on the kind of floor in each area, how it should be cleaned, what products should be used and how often.
For example, risk management firm The Hartford reports the following:
Terrazzo flooring – This is a combination of granite and marble chips bonded with cement. It’s attractive flooring, but it’s also extremely brittle, easily damaged by cleaners and very slippery. The best treatment is semi-permanent seal followed by cleaning with neutral liquid detergent and slip-resistant dressing, ensuring all soap residues are cleared. Before applying new dressing, Terrazzo floors have to be carefully and completely stripped with a special chemical. These floors should not ever be waxed.
Marble flooring – This stone creates a relatively slippery surface, and can be very dangerous if not maintained and cleaned properly. Marble steps can be especially dangerous. All marble floors need to be mopped, free of grit, debris and dust, and cleaned with special chemicals and water. Polishing should only be done with non-wax marble polish, and only according to manufacturer instructions.
Ceramic and Quarry tile – These floors may vary significantly from brand-to-brand, but usually can be kept relatively safe if properly cleaned and maintained. Glazing this kind of tile isn’t advised for high-traffic areas, as it makes such floors especially slippery. Usually, these floors are supposed to look more “natural.” If they are extremely shiny, they likely have not been properly treated. Safe cleaning involves the use of stone preservers with no wax, and chemicals specifically designed for stone floors.
Vinyl tile – These are floors made of composite material and are generally resilient, but pose a high risk of slipping, especially if cleaned with products that combine cleaner with wax. The idea is to strip and clean the floor periodically, and then apply non-slip wax or synthetic resin finish. Vinyl floors should only be polished or buffed sparingly.
Each type of flooring should come with maintenance instructions, which property owners should ensure are carefully followed by staffers.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of a slip-and-fall in Southwest Florida, contact Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights. There are no fees or costs unless we win. Offices in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Naples and Port Charlotte.