How to Prevent Slips and Falls in the Bathroom
The bathroom is given a terrible reputation for slip and fall accidents, probably because it is the most likely place for one to occur- whether you are at home or around town. In particular, nursing homes and retirement communities need to pay special attention to their bathrooms cleanliness and to put preventative measures in place to stop slip and falls before they occur because elderly guests are more at risk than any other age group. Even more, should an injury occur from an accident, you could be facing potential lawsuits and hefty expenses. Luckily, preventing slip and falls in the bathroom can be a simple and inexpensive process by following a few simple steps and tips.
Assess Your Bathroom For Potential Slip and Fall Zones
First, you will want to assess each bathroom on your property. Take time to review the layout of the bathroom and consider how people will be moving about it. If your bathroom has showers, tubs, or people entering the area could have wet feet, be sure to account for this when you review the space. The most common cause of slip and fall accidents is slippery and uneven walking surfaces.
Here is a list of questions to ask yourself when assessing your bathrooms:
- Are there non-slip treads in the shower?
- Are there non-slip mats in the bathtub?
- Is there non-slip treads in front of the sink?
- If handrails and guardrails are present, are they secured and constructed to safety standards?
- Are slip-resistant floors present?
- What condition are the floors in?
- How far do guests have to walk from the sink to the hand dryer or towels?
- What type of footwear is typically worn around the property?
- Do you have mats in the bathroom and are they in good shape?
- Is adequate lighting available?
- Is proper drainage available?
- Are leaky toilets and water fixtures promptly repaired?
- Are bathrooms inspected regularly by staff for cleanliness?
- Are towels easily accessible upon exiting the shower/tub?
- If you have a stand-up shower, do you have seating or handrails?
- Are signs posted or readily available for employees to put out around wet areas to remind guests to use caution?
Taking Action on Bathroom Slip and Fall Zones
Now that you have identified areas that could be potential slip and fall zones within your bathroom, you are ready to take action. (Sidenote: it is perfectly reasonable if after your assessment, you deem the entire space is a potential slip and fall hazard. The good news is that you can remedy this reasonably easily!).
Slip and Fall Prevention for Floors
The top areas we see clients noticing slip and falls are around the sink and bathing areas due to the high level of water being splashed. Even if you do have slip-resistant floors, an extra level of safety would be to add non-slip treads around the areas. If you do not have slip-resistant floors, then non-slip treads or adhesives are a definite must for you to add to your bathroom facilities.
You will want a fine grade peel-and-stick tread for around the bathtub and shower areas, which is comfortable on bare feet and is especially effective at preventing slips and falls in the constant streams of water that these areas see. The Flex Track 4100 is a perfect example of this type of product.
Floors Around Sinks
Around sinks, it is recommended to use a product that can work well not only for bare feet but with those in shoes. Having a medium grade non-slip product will assure that you can withstand heavy shoe traffic and also provide a comfortable walking surface for bare feet. Safety Track 3500 is a resilient medium grade non-slip tread or tape that is certified “High Traction” by the National Floor and Safety Institute (NFSI). Safety Track 3500 is also mop-friendly for easy cleaning.
Bathroom Mats and Rugs
Bath mats and rugs are popular and for good reason. They make spaces feel homey, comfortable and can be an aid in preventing slip and falls, especially when getting out of the bathtub or shower. Unfortunately, if not kept up or installed properly, bath mats can be one of the biggest tripping hazards and reasons for a bathroom fall. Make sure bath mats and rugs are not worn or curling on the edges. It is ideal to place non-slip tape under the mat so it won’t shift around.
Floors Outside of Showers and Bathtubs
The areas right outside of showers or bathtubs can be the most dangerous of all areas in the bathroom if you opt not to have a bath mat present. Especially if you have a communal shower, steam room, or whirlpool, like a spa or fitness center, you generally won’t have bath mats right outside to help prevent the slip and falls. Try using a non-slip tread that you can lie throughout the walking areas where water is present. You will want something that will be comfortable on your guest’s bare feet, such as Jessup’s Flex Track 4100.
Maintaining and Cleaning Bathroom Floors
When it comes to maintaining bathroom floors you want to be sure you are keeping them in good condition and using cleaning products that won’t make them more slippery. Any cracked tiles, peeling linoleum, or protruding nails should be tended to immediately. If your bathroom floor is different than the room next to it (carpet to tile is common), make sure you have a clean transition or t-molding installed because this can be a common area to trip and fall over. Use a cleaning product for the floors that is slip resistant and allow the area to dry completely before letting guests in, or at the very least put a “wet floor” sign up.
Bathroom Slip and Fall Prevention- Additional Tips
Besides the floors, there are several other ways to help prevent slip and fall accidents in the bathroom.
- One of the best ways to prevent bathroom slip and falls is by providing adequate lighting. It is strongly suggested that a nightlight is installed or a motion sensing light because late-night bathroom trips are common culprits for slip and fall accidents. You should also consider adding a photoluminescent glow tape to the floors of the bathroom or the walkway to the bathroom, especially if the location is unfamiliar to those using the facilities. A product like Glo Brite photoluminescent films is an easy peel and stick option to consider.
- Entering and exiting the shower and tub is the top reason for slip and fall accidents in the bathroom according to the Center for Disease Control. By installing grab bars around the shower and toilet, you can allow people to have something to hold onto and help prevent that potential fall. You might also consider installing a secured bathing seat if your bathroom only offers a shower.
- Try to have your towels for the sink and showering areas close at hand, so people don’t have to walk around and spread water on the floor more than necessary. If possible, try to put your hand dryers right next to the bathroom sink. In public restrooms, make sure employees do regular checks to wipe down counters, keep floors dry, and make sure the towels and paper products are well stocked.
- Keep floors clear of clutter. Encourage guests to put towels or clothing in a provided hamper that is easily accessible or consider installing towel and clothing hooks, so items are not placed on the floor. Make sure the floors are clear of electrical cords from blow dryers or other hot tools/equipment that might be used.
Quick Bathroom Slip and Fall Stats
- Injury rates increased with age, especially those that occurred on or near the toilet.
- The highest rates were for injuries that occurred in or around the tub or shower (65.8 per 100,000) and injuries that happened on or near the toilet (22.5 per 100,000).
- Among persons aged 15–24 years, the percentage of injuries that occurred while bathing or showering was 34.3% (rate 20.2 per 100,000), whereas among persons aged ≥85 years, the percentage of injuries occurring while bathing or showering was 15.5% (rate 79.9).
- The proportion of injuries that happened when getting on, off, or using the toilet was lowest among persons aged 15–24 years (2.0%) and increased with age, reaching 19.3% among persons aged 65–74 years, 26.9% among persons aged 75–84 years, and 36.9% among persons aged ≥85 years.
The bathroom can be an unforgiving place with its hard and wet surfaces, and accidents are bound to happen sometimes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that about 235,000 people older than 15 visit emergency rooms each year because of bathroom-related injuries. However, by taking a few minutes to assess your bathrooms with the questions listed above, you will be able to pinpoint the top hazards in your bathroom. Usually with some simple changes to towel arrangements, lighting, handrails, and the addition of non-slip bathroom products you will be able to greatly improve the risk of a potential slip and fall accident for yourself or your guests.