Hospital trust improves floor cleaning after a slip

A hospital worker opened the door of a meeting room and stepped into the corridor. She slipped and fell, as the vinyl floor had just been cleaned and was still wet. Although she was not seriously injured, this was largely a matter of chance – there was the potential for a serious injury on another occasion.

An HSE inspector happened to witness the incident and immediately made enquiries about how floor cleaning operations were managed by the Trust. He was sufficiently concerned to issue an Improvement Notice. The main concerns were:

  • Wet mopping on vinyl floor – likely to be slippery if left wet
  • No suitable barriers to prevent people stepping onto the wet floor (single cone was in  use - insufficient given large area being cleaned)
  • Direct access from adjoining rooms onto wet area - no warning for people exiting the rooms
  • Floor cleaning carried out at unsuitable time (dinner time on main access route to canteen)
  • New cleaner - not adequately trained or supervised

The Improvement Notice required the setting up of suitable cleaning regimes and safe systems of work to prevent pedestrians stepping onto a wet floor. It also required the Trust to set up a system to ensure that the new procedures were working, including appointing someone to be responsible for monitoring them.

The Trust responded promptly and positively to comply with the Notice. They put in place improved systems and procedures, including:

  • Retraining of staff on use of conventional mopping systems
  • Cleaning floors in small sections, followed by dry mopping
  • Effective use of cones and barriers
  • Better demonstration of the training methods and systems of work used by contract cleaners
  • Trust-wide circulation of the lessons learnt from this incident and the remedial actions taken.

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Updated 2021-06-02