Employers and employees must be aware of slip, trip, and fall (STF) risks in any industry, including manufacturing, healthcare, food service, and retail. STF injuries are one of the most frequently reported types of injury—and wet floors are often the root cause of these incidents, whether a person slips due to a spill, loses footing on wet stairs, or trips on a mat in a drainage area. Explore these methods for wet floor hazard prevention to help reduce accidents due to slips and falls and improve safety for employees and visitors.
Is a Wet Floor an OSHA Violation?
Neglecting a wet floor is a violation of OSHA’s standards for walking-working surfaces which requires all work areas to be maintained in clean, dry conditions, as feasible. Because some jobs require liquids for wet processes, the regulations do recognize exceptions to these rules, within reason.
Getting fined by OSHA for violating the walking-working standards isn’t the only penalty that factory or retail business owners should worry about. STF accidents due to poorly maintained, wet surfaces put companies at risk of lawsuits. Premises liability laws hold property owners responsible for injuries sustained due to any dangerous condition.
OSHA Wet Floor Sign Regulations
Wet floor signs should be yellow per standards set by OSHA and The American National Standards Institute (ANSI), which designate how to mark physical hazards with caution notices. The word “Caution” and a universal graphic showing a person slipping helps improve understanding.
To ensure adequate notice is given, OSHA-compliant wet floor signs should be spaced between 10 and 15 feet apart where slippery conditions persist over a large area—and less frequently for a smaller location. Employees should have wet floor signs available before mopping to keep the area from being left unattended and unmarked while retrieving the signage.
How to Prevent Wet Floor Injuries
Moisture on floors can’t always be eliminated, and for areas with wet processes, wet floors are expected of daily business operations. To prevent STF injuries, invest in visual cues to improve facility safety.
What Signage Is Recommended for Wet Floors?
Simple A-frame wet floor signs that can be swiftly put up and taken down are recommended for spills and temporary conditions, while locations with continual moisture should install self-adhesive floor signs as more permanent reminders. Whichever visual cues a company chooses, the signs should include a yellow background with black lettering to adhere to OSHA wet floor sign regulations.
Wet Floor Signs for Intermittent Applications
Intermittent wet floors may be caused by several factors including weather conditions, a spill, or a maintenance issue, such as a clogged gutter or floor drain. These situations do not require permanent signage but the locations should be marked by barriers or wet floor signs until housekeeping or repair is complete.
Display wet floor signs when:
- A freshly mopped floor is drying
- Spilled liquids need to be cleaned up
- A leaking faucet or pipe creates a puddle
- Weather elements are tracked indoors
Floor Signs for Wet Processing Areas
Wet processes involve water, chemicals, steam, or another liquid source, which can contribute to wet or slippery surfaces. Food production, textile processing, and mechanical finishing are examples of industries that may use wet processing and need visual reminders of wet surface conditions.
Caution floor signs and tape provide long-lasting warnings that are designed to withstand harsh, wet conditions, even in workstations regularly subjected to moisture. Painting visual cues using industrial stencils is another option to create visual cues where signs or tape won’t stick. Whichever method you choose, consider safety messages, such as:
- Caution: May Be Slippery
- Caution: Proceed Slowly
- Caution Icy Surface
- Slip-Resistant Footwear Required
- Slippery When Wet
Non-Slip Personal Protective Equipment
Slip-resistant shoes may be recommended or required to provide added traction for people who work in areas with significant slip hazards—such as food service workers, healthcare employees, and maintenance teams. Visual cues placed at the entrances of a wet process environment or near a dishwashing station can remind everyone of the footwear requirements to help prevent slips and falls. We offer a variety of PPE visual cues and can custom-make personal protective equipment floor signs for any facility.
Proper Housekeeping and Maintenance
Keep spills from causing slips and accidents by promptly cleaning up hazards. Use the principles of 5S for efficient housekeeping and to enforce daily cleaning procedures to keep floors clean and dry. Prevent wet floor hazards using these housekeeping tips:
- Mark storage for mops, rags, and towels with 5S labels to make locating cleaning supplies fast and efficient.
- Display custom signs with the number for maintenance in public locations, such as malls, parking garages, and hospitals, to help expedite spill clean-up.
- Make sure Safety Data Sheet binders for chemical spills are marked and easy to locate so spills are cleaned safely and correctly.
- Add daily inspections to the routine to locate any sources of leaks—for example, near refrigerators and freezer cases, drains, and washrooms—before these cause puddles and wet floors.
Slip-Resistant Flooring for Wet Areas
Non-slip mats and entrance rugs help stop mud, rain, and snow from being tracked indoors. Factories that use chemicals and oils may use specialty mat systems to cover large work areas, and wet process rooms often use false floors to provide a dry walking surface above drainage. Always ensure flooring is used properly to prevent introducing new trip hazards. Help improve safety in wet environments with proper flooring and accompanying visual cues, including installing corner markers to show optimal rug placement near entrances with wet foot traffic or applying anti-slip floor tape on and around false floors and platforms to provide extra traction where employees step up and down.
Visual Cues for Slippery Outdoor Surfaces
If exterior areas have a tendency for water to pool or freeze or are slippery when wet, use visual cues to guide traffic around these hazards. Pavement tape, pavement signs, or stencils and paint are ideal for marking outdoor locations. Consider these ideas for outdoor safety improvements:
- Paint caution messages on paved surfaces that may be slippery when wet to warn couriers, customers, and employees to proceed slowly.
- Mark emergency exit stairs or parking garage steps with yellow grip tape to provide traction and bring attention to slip hazards and changes in elevation.
- Applying anti-slip tape to outdoor steps or sidewalks to provide extra traction in wet or slushy weather.
- Use anti-slip tape on parking ramps or in garages with polished floors that may be difficult to traverse when wet.
What Are the Safety Procedures for Wet Floors?
While you can implement methods to prevent wet floors, employees, business owners, and management should understand how to deal with wet floors when situations arise. Incorporate these safety procedures for wet floors into training to help avoid slips and trips in industrial facilities and public environments:
- Train staff to take appropriate precautions in wet locations—walk cautiously, use handrails, and hold a wider stance.
- Clean up spills immediately and use signage to reroute traffic around the area.
- Follow OSHA guidelines for safely cleaning up water, grease, and other fluids.
- Use caution signs and barricades to detour foot traffic around wet floors until they are completely dry.
- Mark wet process locations using caution tape to create visual boundaries and safety zones.
- Lay floor mats with beveled edges near entrances or areas prone to moisture to account for wet conditions without introducing trip hazards.
- Mop one side of a hallway or room at a time to maintain some dry passageways.
- Use false floors, platforms, and mats to create bridges over wet work surfaces.
- Require anti-slip footwear.
- Use visual cues to remind of areas that may become slippery when wet.
We offer a variety of floor markings, caution signs, anti-slip tape, and barriers for labeling slippery or hazardous floors. Visual cues improve hazard communication to help you meet safety objectives and comply with OSHA standards. Find more ways our industrial floor markings can improve the productivity, organization, and safety of your business in our Resource Center.