Slips on wet and contaminated floors

Historically, the insurance industry has taken a gloomy view of food manufacturers, mainly due to the construction of buildings. However, these issues for the most part seem to have been managed and therefore insurers are more comfortable with them. That said fire is not the only risk the industry presents for insurers and over recent years Employers Liability claims have come to the forefront.  Food manufacturers often employ foreign labour and with a certain degree of seasonality we find that employee loyalty and retention can be quite poor, which can make claims more likely.

Insurers are therefore looking for companies who have good risk management processes in place to manage employee injury, particularly in respect of slip and trip hazards.  Slips and trips injuries comprise 35% of ‘major’ injuries in the food and drink industries. Slips injuries are more prevalent in the food and drink industries than in most other industries.iStockWETFLOORsign

For both major and over-3-day absence injuries combined, slips and trips comprise nearly 25% of food and drink industry injuries reported to the HSE. This represents around 1,300 injuries per year, of which approximately 80% are slips and 20% trips.

How to manage the risk

Prevention of slips

  • Eliminate contamination of the floor from water or food product (eg lips around tables, leak and spillage prevention, dry methods to clean floors)
  • Prevent contamination of walkways (eg bunds around equipment, drainage channels, cleaning incoming footwear)
  • Limit the effects of contamination (eg immediate treatment of spillages, good ventilation for drying)
  • Ensure floor has sufficient surface roughness. Floors which may become water contaminated should have at least 20 microns roughness (Rtm) increasing to 45 microns for milk and 70 microns for olive oil. Such roughness is microscopic and does not prevent hygienic cleaning.
  • Ensure cleaning regime is effective and reduces slip risk. Floor treatments can often make floors more slippery.
  • Select suitable footwear as the effectiveness of shoe soles to prevent slips varies considerably. In general, softer soles (eg microcellular urethane with a good pattern) are least slippery on wet floors.
  • Carrying loads or pushing/pulling trolleys increases the slip risk and should be eliminated or reduced where possible.

Prevention of trips

  • Eliminate holes, slopes or uneven surfaces
  • Eliminate materials or objects likely to cause tripping

To speak to us in more detail about managing risk in this industry, please contact Ken Stevens on 01302 341 344.

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