How can restaurants prevent slip and fall accidents?

Spilled water on the floor and dim ambient lighting in a restaurant often become a recipe for accidents. Each year in the U.S., around nine million people slip or fall. Four million of these accidents occur in the foodservice industry. In fact, according to the National Restaurant Association, slips and falls are the biggest source of general liability (GL) claims within the restaurant industry.
Slip and Fall Incidents in US Three million employees and one million guests slip and fall in the foodservice industry.
So how does this affect the restaurant business?
A National Floor Safety Institute study says that the industry spends over two billion dollars each year on such injuries. The indirect cost comes from lost customers. According to a survey of more than 1,000 Americans, nearly one in three adults – or 60 million Americans – are unlikely to visit a restaurant if they found out someone had slipped or fallen recently. Whether it is an employee or a patron, slipping causes great loss to restaurateurs.

How can you reduce slip and fall accidents in restaurants?

We've discussed how mats can play a pivotal role in preventing slips and falls. However, just placing a mat at the entrance to the restaurant is not enough. If you’re a foodservice provider, you need to implement a comprehensive slip and fall risk control policy. Dave Mesko, Senior Director of Marketing, Cintas Corporation says, “Too often, restaurant operators place a mat inside their front door and don’t think through a holistic matting program.”
For an effective slip and fall prevention strategy, you need to get to the root of the problem. 50 percent of all slip and fall accidents in food industry are caused by wet floors. The other 50 percent is caused by improper footwear, inadequate hazard identification, blind corners, swinging doors, change in floor levels, pace, improper training, and fraud.
According to a paper titled, “Floor Mats: A Key Component of Your Slip and Fall Prevention Strategy,” key components of your slip and fall prevention strategy should include:
1. Identifying the right areas for mats: Front doors, loading docks, beverage stations, area near the ice machine, and cooking stations are hot spots for excess moisture, grease, and dirt in a restaurant. Basically entrances, high-risk zones, high-traffic zones, and productivity zones are the most appropriate places to put a mat.
2. Choosing the right type of mat: Low traction mats can buckle, ripple, and curl, resulting in some nasty falls. Use high-traction mats to prevent your staff and patrons from slipping and hurting themselves. NFSI founder, Russell Kendzior recommends a recessed mat, a scraper, or a wiper-scraper mat for outdoors. Indoor mats can feature a wiper-scraper combination or only a wiper, depending on which one is used outdoors.
3. Choosing the right length for a mat: Based on the weather, the following are the recommended mat lengths in foodservice facilities:
Ideal Length Of Floor Mat                                                                                                                    Source: Cintas Corporation
4. Cleaning and maintaining mats: Over time, mats accumulate high amounts of dirt only to develop an “ink pad effect,” so when people step on them and then step anywhere else, they transfer contaminants everywhere they walk. Your responsibility doesn't end with placing a mat – they need to be regularly cleaned and inspected for buildup and damage.
 5. Training and engaging the staff: Lastly, employees should be trained for safety procedures against STF (Slip, Trip and Fall) hazards, cleaning operations, and inspection procedures. Slip and fall prevention notices and spill cleanup procedures should be conspicuously posted for the restaurant staff.

How can OSHA help?

  OSHA is all set to make a few tweaks in its standard 29 CFR 1910, subparts D and I "Walking Working Surfaces and Personal Fall Protection Systems (Slips, Trips, and Fall Prevention).” Fifteen new ANSI standards could be introduced including the NFSI/ANSI B101.1-2009 standard which will help property owners choose flooring that offers more traction and slip-resistance. The method proposes that raising the slip resistance of walkways from 0.5 dry to 0.60 wet can significantly reduce slips and falls.