Slip-and-fall accidents, whether in the workplace or in the home, concern everyone. Billions of dollars are spent annually and thousands of lives are changed due to a simple slip, trip or fall. According to the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI), the nation’s $494 billion grocery store industry spends $450 million annually just to defend slip-and-fall claims.

Walkway auditing prevention
The key to any safety prevention effort is the need for a company to be proactive rather than reactive. This is especially true when it comes to slip-and-fall prevention. Walkway auditing could significantly reduce a company’s slip-and-fall incidents. Although walkway audits are not new, this concept of the audit addresses floors in a facility and any slip, trip or fall hazards within that facility.

Walkway audits are best performed by a trained and certified walkway auditor. The audit process allows the auditor the opportunity to identify potential slip-and-fall hazards within a facility by testing the facility’s floors for slip resistance and assigning risk categories to various locations within the facility. The auditor will then compile all the data into a detailed report, including a building diagram with clearly marked areas of risk.

Each report will contain the static coefficient of friction (SCOF) readings for each area tested. There are three different types of risk categories: low traction, medium traction and high traction. Areas receiving low or medium traction readings should be considered a possible hazard and should be followed by some type of remediation.

Audit as investment
When used properly, the walkway audit will prove to be a valuable floor safety tool for several reasons, including:

1. It shows your company’s proactive approach to safety as well as its due diligence. This will go a long way in your company’s defense if or when a slip-and-fall accident occurs.

2. The audit will help identify areas within your facility that could be potential slip, trip or fall hazards and allows your company the opportunity to resolve the problem before a costly incident occurs.

3. Using a certified third-party walkway auditing firm shows, in the event of an accident, that the information within the report is unbiased and accurate.

The key with any safety tool or plan is to use it. To show that your company is serious about the overall safety of its employees, as well as its customers, invest in a walkway audit program. Such an investment could prove to benefit your bottom line — the money saved from increased workers’ compensation premiums, expensive and lengthy litigation and retraining employees who are disabled as a result of slip-and-fall accidents will more than pay for a walkway audit program.

Slip the audit into your program
Walkway auditing is just one key component that makes up a workable floor safety program that can be easily implemented within your company’s safety efforts.

It’s important to look at floor safety and slip-andfall prevention as a separate entity; often floor safety concerns are addressed within a company’s overall safety program but not treated as a separate issue. As a company, you will find it beneficial to set up a floor safety program that is specifically designed to your company’s needs. Along with walkway auditing, a few other components will work hand in hand with your slip-and-fall prevention efforts.

The program should focus on the importance of proper maintenance procedures — often the slip resistance of a floor is directly affected by how clean the floor itself is. Other problems, such as build-up of contaminates, will also lower the slip resistance of the floor.

Next, employee training is paramount. Included in your floor safety program should be written procedures on identifying, reporting and avoiding any slip, trip or fall hazard, as well as cleanup procedures when spills occur.

Take a look at employee footwear. Your employees should be required to wear slip-resistant shoes. Slipresistant shoes come in a variety of colors and styles and are very comfortable and economically priced.

Last but not least, think about signage and floor matting. Proper signage is a must in alerting your employees as well as your customers to a potential hazard. Having the right amount of signs for your facility is key. A good rule of thumb is to have at least one sign for each entrance, and one or two signs for spills within the facility. Matting is also crucial for entrance areas and hallways where water and contaminants are prevalent.

Accidents can happen under the best of circumstances, but they can be reduced significantly by preventive measures. Contact a certified slip-and-fall prevention specialist or walkway auditing firm to assist you in your company’s slip-and-fall prevention efforts.