Good Housekeeping Supports the Safety of All in Business and at Work

It’s Sunday afternoon, and I’m in bed with an ice bag prophylatically placed on my left knee. Earlier this afternoon, I was in one of my favorite grocery stores, walking down the main aisle in front of the registers to buy the apricots and peach I had just picked out in the produce department. The woman in front of me slipped on something on the floor, but she kept her balance and did not fall. I was not so lucky; I slipped and fell, artfully hitting my left knee, wrist, ankle and foot on the gleaming white floor. My rubber shoes flew off, and I felt my face contort with pain, and fear. The floor, stretching the length of several grocery aisles, was covered with a clear sweet-smelling liquid soap, and it coated both the floor and me – leaked from another shopper’s cart, or squirted by some bored kid trapped in that shopper’s cart, in all likelihood. Grocery staff and fellow customers gathered around me, helping me up. Fortunately:

  • I was able to stand, walk and flex my knee;
  • I had not slipped in feces, or vomit (I had worked as an aide in a nursing home during college, hence the context for gratitude);
  • The store staff was able to get ice for my knee immediately;
  • My friends Jenni and Michelle happened to walk by, and kept me company as I iced my knee in the pharmacy waiting area near where I fell;
  • I was able to walk out of the store to my car;
  • I was able to drive my car home (and I had our automatic transmission car, not our standard transmission car);
  • In all likelihood, my knee will be fine.

The staff response was perfect:

  • They ensured that I wasn’t seriously hurt;
  • They helped me wipe off the liquid soap;
  • They washed and dried my rubber shoes so I wouldn’t slip again;
  • They immediately brought me a bag of ice to place on my knee, and they gave me a bag of ice to take home;
  • Simultaneously, they blocked off the section of the floor coated with the liquid soap so no one else would slip and fall, and cleaned and dried the floor;
  • They took my contact information, and filed an accident report immediately;
  • The store manager on duty reminded me several times to reach out to him if I needed medical care, as they would take care of the cost.

It was an all’s-well-that-ends-well, textbook near-miss incident and response. It reminded me of a similar near-miss fall I had experienced over 10 years ago, at my company’s distribution center on the West Coast. My colleague Barry and I were on our way out of the building to catch our flight back to Albany. I opened the office door to the breakroom area near the exit, and I promptly slid sideways on the freshly mopped tile floor and fell on my left hip, my laptop bag fortunately cushioning my fall, preventing any injury or even pain. My laptop screen did not fare as well – it was shattered cushioning my fall. The yellow caution sign had been placed at the other end of the room, and not near the door where I had entered.

Both incidents hammer home for me the importance of how good housekeeping supports safety, particularly accident and near-miss incident prevention. My safety training included picking up everything on the floor in my path as I walked through my workplace – even when I was 9 months pregnant with my son Noah, I would carefully bend down to remove and discard trash and wood scraps as I walked through the aisles of my home distribution center. Speaking from my own experiences, I much prefer monitoring the safety of my workplace supporting good housekeeping to nursing a broken hip, or a shattered knee. In a grocery store environment, every employee’s stewardship to ensure clean, dry floors is one of the keys to ensuring both customer and employee accident and near-miss prevention.

How will you best support good housekeeping to prevent accidents and near-miss incidents to ensure safety for all this week, in business and at work?

ice bag illustration

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