Spring 2016 | cbservices.org

Christian Brothers Services
Inside This Issue:

Risk Factor:
Nursing Homes

Font Decrease   Font Increase
Slip, Trip and Fall Accident Prevention in Cafeterias, Dining Rooms and Kitchens

The majority of slip, trip and fall accidents occurring in nursing home cafeterias, dining rooms and kitchens are the result of hazardous floor conditions including wet floors and floors contaminated with food debris, grease/oil and improper cleaners not removed during the cleaning process.  Poor housekeeping and busy periods where the pace of food service is accelerated to accommodate guests is another cause of slip, trip and fall injuries.  Other factors that can contribute to slips, trips and falls include the color and appearance of a floor, the absence or incorrect use of warning signs signaling a wet or dangerous floor, improper footwear worn by employees and occupants, and preoccupation of an employee or guest on something other than walking safely as they move through or work within the facility.

Consider the following statistics related to slips, trips and falls:

  • “Eighty-five percent of workers’ compensation claims are attributed to employees slipping on slick floors.”  -Industrial Safety and Occupational Health Markets 5th edition
  • “Twenty-two percent of slip/fall incidents resulted in more than 31 days away from work.”  -U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2002)
  • “Compensation and medical costs associated with employee slip/fall accidents is approximately $70 billion annually.”  -National Safety Council Injury Facts 2003 edition

The good news is  the slip, trip and fall exposures present in nursing home cafeterias, dining rooms and kitchens can be prevented by making sure the facility is properly maintained and by providing employee training designed to create an awareness of hazardous situations, along with directives for eliminating these hazards.

Housekeeping and Organization
Making sure items are stored in their proper places will help to reduce clutter and spills in kitchen and dining room areas. Organize the kitchen, dishwashing and dining areas so that everything has a place.  Make sure there is enough storage space for ingredients and equipment that are used daily.  Provide adequate waste bins in convenient locations so that waste items can be disposed of quickly.  In large areas, mark walkways for traffic and make sure these areas are kept clear.  Periodically inspect traffic routes within the facility to ensure they are unobstructed.  Never allow cables, cords or pipes to trail across the floor.  Avoid putting pans, packages, boxes or wrappings on the floor in areas that may cause someone to trip.

Use nonslip mats in kitchens, especially in areas that tend to be wet on a constant basis.  In areas where floors may be greasy, use cleaning solutions that are designed to cut through grease without leaving a slippery residue. Proper removal of these cleaners is also important to ensure the cleaners themselves do not become a hazard.  In some cases, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends using no-skid waxes and floor surfaces coated with grit to create nonslip surfaces. 

Use entrance mats.  Correctly placed entrance mats remove moisture from footwear that can be brought in from outdoor surfaces or from wet/greasy floors within the facility.  Make sure mats are in good condition and properly maintained.  Use mats with a high-traction backing that prevents movement.  Place mats on a clean, dry surface and make sure that edges lay flat.  Check your facility for worn carpets and mats and replace them immediately.  Mats and carpeting that are worn, buckling or torn can contribute to slip, trip and fall injuries. 

Parking Lots and Sidewalks
Inspect surfaces in parking lots and sidewalks on a daily basis.  Be sure that surfaces are level and free of potholes or obstructions.  If these items are found, make repairs right away.  Be aware of outside weather conditions and take immediate action to remove ice and snow when inclement weather occurs.

Train Employees
Employees are your best resource for preventing slip, trip and fall injuries.  Make sure everyone working in your facility has a good understanding of the right way to work and the necessary precautions.  Train employees to identify hazards.  If they are unable to respond to an identified hazard, instruct them to immediately report the hazard to management.  Emphasize to employees the importance of their role in preventing slip, trip and fall accidents and educate them on the following safe practices:

  • Clean up all spills immediately and don’t leave spills unattended while getting a mop or requesting assistance for clean-up.  If the employee is unable to clean up the spill, let them know who to report it to for immediate removal.  If a spill is discovered, put out signage immediately to warn coworkers, customers and guests about the dangerous surface.  During peak hours, only mop in areas that need immediate attention. 
  • Prohibit employees from running in the facility. 
  • Do not overfill bus tubs.  Items and liquids in these tubs could fall out and cause slip, trip and fall exposures.
  • For employees who perform maintenance activities, make sure that mop water is changed frequently and that mop heads are replaced as needed.

In addition to educating employees to be aware of slip, trip and fall hazards, make sure that they wear the proper footwear for their job.  Require all employees to wear sturdy shoes with slip-resistant soles and low heels.  According to the National Floor Safety Institute, improper footwear causes 24 percent of all slips and falls.

And finally, make sure that employees are engaged in what they are doing and not preoccupied with other issues.  Employees must be focused on the tasks that they are completing in order to avoid unnecessary accidents.

Employer Responsibilities
Supervising staff and making sure they follow all safety procedures is another critical component to preventing slips, trips and falls.  Be available to staff for questions or to issue directives on potential unsafe situations.

Employers also have the responsibility to provide a safe working environment for employees.  The following initiatives can be taken by employers to keep employees safe while on-the-job:

  • Provide two double swing doors with windows on kitchen entrances so employees can see who is on the other side when entering and exiting.
  • The installation of floor or ceiling outlets for plugging in equipment will alleviate the risk of cords running along walkways.  Make sure that floor plugs are not in areas where water may be present as this could cause electrocution.
  • Inspect the facility for bulging or bunched-up carpeting and have it re-laid or stretched to eliminate tripping hazards.
  • Use nonslip floor mats or nonskid floor waxes on surfaces where water or oil may be spilled.
  • Provide adequate floor drainage in wet areas.
  • Place convex mirrors around blind corners.
  • Provide adequate lighting in all kitchen and cooking areas so employees can clearly see what they are doing and where they are going.
  • Replace drain covers that are loose or broken.
  • Make sure walkways and entryways are wide enough for people to travel in opposite directions without bumping into each other and that these areas are free of clutter.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) can also help with efforts to keep cafeterias, dining rooms and kitchens safe.  For more information on the OSHA standards designed to eliminate slip, trip and fall exposures in commercial kitchens, check out the following standards at www.osha.gov:

  • Standard 1910.22(a)(1).  This standard discusses requirements that all places of employment be kept clean, orderly and in a sanitary condition.
  • Standard 1910.22(a)(2).  Floors must be kept clean and dry.  Where water spills are a concern, floor drains, false floors, platforms, mats or other dry-standing places must be provided.
  • Standard 1910.145(c)(2).  Provision of warning signs for wet floor areas.


-Information excerpted from:  National Restaurant Association®, “Don’t trip up:  Preventing slips and falls,” http://www.restaurant.org/Manage-My-Restaurant/Operations/Back-of-House/Dont-trip-up; FSWseason’d, “Slip and Fall Hazards in the Commercial Kitchen,” http://foodservicewarehouse.com/blog/slip-and-fall-hazards-commercial-kitchen/; Health and Safety Executive, “Preventing slips and trips in kitchens and food service,” CAIS6(rev2), 07/12; and the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI) “Quick Facts,” https://nfsi.org/nfsi-research/quick-facts/.