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RR889 - Investigation of slip resistance and the hygienic cleaning of floors in hospital settings

Slip and trip accidents in the healthcare sector continue to be a cause for concern. Over 50% of RIDDOR reported major injuries in this sector are related to slips, trips and falls, both to staff and to patients. These accidents often result in serious injury and due to the vulnerability of the client group, in some cases have contributed to fatalities. Such accidents also result in significant cost to the NHS as a result of lost time, additional care requirements and financial claims by those suffering injury. The selection of suitable flooring is an important factor in the prevention of slips, as required by the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.

As such, where the floor will get wet or contaminated in normal use, the floor should not be slippery. Increased slip resistance of floor coverings can control the slip risk in some hospital environments, especially areas likely to become wet or subject to other surface contamination. However, there continues to be inconsistency in floor specifications in hospitals with the selection of smooth floors in many areas being common practice. NHS Trusts have raised concerns about the potential for the texture of slip resistant surfaces to adversely affect hygienic cleaning of floors, resulting in increased infection risk. The current research was carried out to compare the levels of bacterial contamination remaining after cleaning, for floors with a range of slip resistance.

This report and the work it describes were funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Its contents, including any opinions and/or conclusions expressed, are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect HSE policy.

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Updated 2011-12-09