Trips, slips and falls cause 15 percent of accidental deaths in North America. Only motor vehicle accidents cause a larger number of accidental deaths in the U.S. Those working in residential care facilities or nursing homes are particularly susceptible to tripping, slipping and falling. Employees at nursing homes are absent from work 2.3 times more frequently than "all other private industry businesses combined," according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Because of the high incidence of people getting hurt at work, OSHA has targeted these facilities as part of the national emphasis program. Accordingly, it will inspect nursing homes and residential facilities for safety violations throughout the next three years. The assistant secretary for OSHA said that workers who dedicate their lives to caring for others' loved ones should be safe at work and it is unacceptable that they are not.
One of the ways to keep these facilities safe - in addition to repairing damaged floors and cleaning up spills immediately - is to use floor mats. OSHA suggests using a floor mat with raised rubber cleats in front of entrances. The cleats remove dirt and water from the soles of people's shoes. At the end of the mat, it is advisable to place an outdoor carpet made to grab moisture and dirt from the soles of shoes that remain even after walking on the rubber-cleated floor mat.
Floor mat systems should also be used in areas where water is often on the floor, such as in kitchen areas, near drinking fountains and sinks in other areas. The mats, which should be anti-fatigue, also help with pain from standing for long hours. The mats should be industrial grade and certified "high traction" by the National Floor Safety Institute.
Source: EHS Today, "OSHA Warns Nursing Care Facilities to Watch Their Steps," Sandy Smith, September 4, 2012.
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