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Risk in Context

3 Slip-Ups in Slip-and-Fall Prevention in Restaurants

Posted by Cindy Smail March 31, 2016

A waiter walks through a freshly mopped kitchen to retrieve dessert for guests. Suddenly, his feet slip out from under him and he falls hard on his back. He’s out of work for several weeks, and undergoes months of physical therapy.

It’s a more common situation than you might think. Slips and falls are the most common  cause of injury and the highest total incurred cost restaurants face, according to Marsh’s recently released Restaurant Industry Practice 2015 Loss Benchmark report. Such incidents can significantly impact your restaurant’s workers’ compensation and general liability insurance and, ultimately, your bottom line.

Shoe Programs Effective in Preventing Injury?

Of the companies that Marsh reviewed, 91% said they had a company-wide, mandatory slip-resistant shoe program. But if these programs are in place, why are restaurants not making more progress reducing slip-and-fall injuries?

Here are three possible areas to review:

1. Program effectiveness: The most important aspect of an effective shoe program is employee compliance. Consider implementing a way to confirm that employees are wearing slip-resistant shoes before their shift.

For example, your policy could dictate sending an employee home to get the proper shoes, or providing slip-resistant overshoes, rather than allowing him or her to work without proper footwear. However, even if slip-resistant shoes are worn, they will not be effective if in poor condition.

Of those surveyed, 85% said that their shoe program is not company funded. Employees therefore may not replace shoes as they become worn, or may select cheaper alternatives that are not truly slip resistant.

2.  Type of falls: Slip-resistant shoes can help prevent the 17% of falls that happen on flat surfaces. However, these shoes will not necessarily help with falls off a ladder, or when an employee trips.

3. Root causes: It’s important to pinpoint the underlying causes of slip-and-fall injuries:

  • Floor surface issues: Slip-resistance should be part of the criteria when floor construction materials are evaluated and approved.
  • Cleaning program: Floors can become slippery due to residue from chemicals used during the cleaning process.
  • Mat program: Consistent mat maintenance ensures that they remain non-slip.
  • Housekeeping: Have established mopping times, control water build up, use a mop-and-dry method, and ensure that nothing is left on the floor to trip over.

Aggressively pursuing slip-and-fall safety can help make your workplace risk ready. If you don’t see a reduction in injuries or claim costs after implementing a slip-resistant shoe program, then your program may need a second look.

Cindy Smail