Few topics carry a higher priority than facilities safety. According to FacilitiesNet, more than 5 million people go to the emergency room annually due to slips, trips, and falls. Instead of hoping for a fall-free day at work, Facilities Managers need to understand a few things about why facilities safety matters more than anything else.
The Consequences of Not Considering Facilities Safety
Failure to maintain safe facilities is responsible for more than $11 billion in direct costs per year. At current rates, falls are on track to become the most expensive cause of injury to U.S. employers, and that is only considering costs associated with falls among employees. Falls by consumers may incur additional costs for litigation, ongoing reputation damage, and the loss of customer purchases. Unfortunately, falls are still considered a minor concern, but 42 percent of businesses reported at least one fall in their facility in the last year. Approximately 5 percent reported more than five falls. Ironically, preventing falls might be among the easiest tasks for Facilities Managers.
Safer Facilities Attract More Customers
Consider what causes falls. A short list might include product on the floor, water, spills, loose materials, like sand and dirt, slick surfaces, humidity, poorly placed layout, and more. Mother Nature is working against Facilities Managers with regard to falls around the clock, and those that take the time to ensure safe facilities will attract more customers.
Even though facilities with a higher risk due to their nature are still susceptible to costs of falls. For instance, restaurants may require non-slip footwear for employees, but there is no guarantee customers will be wearing non-slip footwear. As a result, it is imperative Facilities Managers think beyond employee risk and consider customer experiences. Also, a misconception regarding falls exists; Facilities Managers may believe falls are unavoidable. However, falls are almost always preventable, excluding unusual circumstances, like medical illnesses or emergencies resulting in a fall.
Best Practices to Improve Facilities Safety Now
The best way to approach falls is keeping walkways clear and ready for any scenario. In outdoor settings, this may include the application of slip-resistant tapes and treads, reports Facility Executive. Placement of durable rugs at entryways can help prevent guests from tracking material debris into the facility, which further reduces the risk of falls. Even with a plan in place to clean spills and maintain clear, debris-free floors, falls may still occur. However, Facilities Managers employing the following best practices can effectively improve guest experiences by reducing the risk of injury:
- Report problems as soon as possible. There will be times when a worker is incapable of remedying an issue, such as workers living with physical disabilities. Thus, all workers should be encouraged to report a possible fall risk as soon as possible, provided they are unable to remedy the situation.
- Make customers aware of problems. In cases where fall risk is increased, like during a heavy rain, make sure to add appropriate signage to warn of fall risk, and consider implementing solutions to reduce such risks, like maintaining proper lighting and using tread-tape.
- Address issues as soon as possible. It is important to not delay addressing fall risks due to “being busy.” Even a spill with proper signage to divert foot traffic is a major risk. Workers should stop what they are doing and address the problem immediately.
- Prevent problems by maintaining facility assets with preventive, predictive maintenance. Potential risks may arise from poorly maintained facility assets, such as dripping HVAC ducts and damaged assets. Proper maintenance of such assets will reduce this risk.
- Actively look for potential safety risks. A vigilant team of workers will help reduce risk in the facility. It is not enough to assume everything is safe; workers must look for possible risks.
- Follow through with all work orders. This includes the filing of work orders and completion of documents relating to falls that do occur, which serves the added benefit of streamlining payment and insurance processing and creates a positive guest experience from a negative event.
- Give credit to staff members when due, such as rewarding employees that address risks immediately when notified.
- Automate safety systems, like fire and active shooter alarms. Even though these instances may be rare, preparation will help prevent falls and trips during an emergency.
- Create emergency plans for all potential threats, like flooding, fire, tornadoes, active shooters, hostage situations, and exposure to hazardous materials, if applicable.
Enhance Facilities Safety Through Proactive Management With QSI Today
Facilities safety might not seem like an area of grave concern, but it can be costly. Defending a case involving a fall in court averages $50,000, reports Biz Magazine, but paying a claim is as little as $20,000. That is assuming no one was severely injured in the incident. Among the elderly, falls carry an even greater threat of being a leading cause of death and chronic illness. Instead of putting your facility at risk, improve conditions and work toward a fall-free future. Visit QSI Facilities or call 1-888-328-2454 to learn more about how your organization can get a grip on falls.