- OSHA Healthcare Advisor - http://blogs.hcpro.com/osha -

Finnish Fall Findings Focus on Floor Finishes

Sorry for the over-the-top alliteration, but I knew I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to use it when I attended a presentation on slip, trip, and fall (STF) hazards at the Association of Occupational Health Professionals in Healthcare [1] (AOHP) annual meeting in September.

During the meeting, James W. Collins, PhD, a researcher at NIOSH [2], shared the latest information on STF, which is the No. 1 cause for workers’ compensation claim in healthcare.

Collins and colleagues used data from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health—they are the world’s experts on slip surfaces, he explained—and Liberty Mutual insurance company to design an STF prevention study that looked at seven shoe types and eight floor types in three hospitals.

One shoe type, Shoes for Crews, [3] proved to be superior to all other shoes in preventing STF, but it was routinely rejected by healthcare workers due to aesthetics, said Collins. Clog wearers take note: the poor STF prevention qualities of clog-like shoes did not even qualify that style for consideration, Collins explained.

Concerning floors and floor finishes, the NIOSH study found quarry tiles to provide best footing under oily conditions, and matte or dull floor waxes the best STF protection in the healthcare facilities studied.

Even with this data, healthcare management will not always make the right decision. When Collins explained the advantages of dull wax finishes, a hospital administrator rejected the suggestion because in that facility, slick, shiny floors were associated with the infection control campaign against hospital acquired infection.

That reasoning is tough to figure.

Cautioning that the conclusions to the NIOSH study have not been approved or officially published yet, Collins said that the data suggests that STF decreased by 59% when the hospitals adopted the study recommendations.