In the name of safety improvements, we have a lot of different methods for keeping our employees in good health and spirits. These usually start with effective training programs, the usage of PPE, and ensuring that machinery is properly guarded, vehicles are safe to drive, and that managers are on the lookout for improvements at all times. One item that is often quite literally overlooked, however, is floor safety.
According to OSHA’s Walking/Working Surfaces Safety and Health page :
Slips, trips, and falls constitute the majority of general industry accidents. They cause 15% of all accidental deaths, and are second only to motor vehicles as a cause of fatalities.”
Walking/Working Surfaces by OSHA
There are many hazard situations that can cause slips, trips and falls such as, grease, wet spots, dirty floor, uneven flooring, clutter, and objects. The physical ground that your employees walk on each and every day is critical to their safety, and there are a lot of things you can do to turn your work floor from a potential hazard to a safety tool. Let’s take a look at five of them now.
Floor Tape for Organizing: Ever been in a warehouse and seen colored tape running all around the floor? This little tool is the aptly-named “floor tape,” and it has a variety of uses. First and foremost, you can use floor tape (like this floor tape) to divide up your workplace into walking lanes for your workers; this effectively let’s you and your employees know which areas to keep clear at all times for foot traffic. Trips and slips make up a large number of workplace incidents every year, so keeping walking spaces clean and open is a big help, especially if employees might be carrying something or otherwise have the vision of their walking path partially obscured. These lanes also allow you to dictate where any vehicles (such as forklifts, small transport trucks, etc.) that may also operate on the work floor may drive. Furthermore, floor tape is a great tool for other organizational tasks, like creating boxes on the ground for setting pallets, checking in stock, or loading finished product.
Keepin’ It Clean: With any method you use for keeping your floor safe, you need to bring regular cleaning and maintenance into the picture as well. Unfortunately, even the best-laid plans can go awry when a floor is dirty or wet, making it slippery, or cluttered with objects, creating tripping hazards. At the beginning and end of each work day, all walking paths should get a quick walk-through and visual check to ensure they’re clean and clear. Throughout the day, encourage employees to regularly check through walking paths on their way to lunch breaks, etc. If an object is in the way, workers should know not to just step over it and carry on, but to return it to its place for both the safety of their coworkers and for the efficiency of whoever needs that item next (assuming it’s not just garbage, etc). Make it clear that keeping the floor safe is everyone’s job, so that employees are more inclined to clean messes they find and not just leave them or point fingers.
Floor Signs: Floor signs can function much like floor tape, dictating the conditions and purposes of various areas of your work floor. Floor signs are great for alerting workers to new conditions as they move through the workplace, for example a reminder of an area which requires a certain type of protection equipment that they might not have already had on. These kinds of signs don’t exactly improve the safety of the floor itself, but can certainly alert your workers to other safety goings on. Floor signs can come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can be used much like the floor tape “boxes” we talked about before: floor signs on the ground can denote where different things should happen, and their color or shape can be assigned certain meanings to make for quick visual indicators (just make sure you train your employees on any associated meanings before implementing them to avoid confusion!).
Floor Mats: From kitchens to production facilities to gym locker rooms to even offices, floor mats help to ensure employees can walk safer. There are two main uses for mats in a workplace. The first is much how a doormat functions outside of a home, to clean footwear. Muddy, dirty, or wet shoes can not only be a hazard for the user, but can also make a floor slippery for others. Mats at all contact points/doorways between indoor and outdoor operations can help to mitigate this risk. The other type of mat you might use is an ESD mat. These ESD mats can be placed in areas where operations routinely stand to aid workers in keeping their footing and helping with fatigue and comfort. If an area of the floor regularly experiences fatigue and discomfort from standing for long periods of time, ESD mats can help keep employees comfortable and safe.
Floor safety is an essential part of any workplace safety program. Although, floor safety can sometimes be overlooked or deemed as not as important as other safety tactics, after reading this blog post you can see that floor safety is truly a key player when it comes to keeping employees safe while on the job. Please take these five easy ways to improve the safety of your work floor into consideration when implementing your floor safety program.
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