Slips, Falls and Panic Calls

Four years after establishing UKSafety Mats, Glasgow based entrepreneur Steve Turner talks about his experiences making Scotland’s business premises a little safer and nicer to be in.

Have you had a slip or fall at work that wasn’t your fault?

Plenty of us do, UK insurers pay out over £250 Million pounds every year to claimants who have slipped on floors.

We’ve all seen the adverts and shaken our heads in despair at the thought of living in a world where the first question is “are you alright?” and the second is “are you going to make a claim?”

The first thing the business owner hears is about 3 weeks after some seemingly innocuous slip when a letter arrives. “Did we put this in the accident book?” “Who was in here on that day? Do you remember anything?” Of course, someone has a vague recollection but it all seemed fine at the time.

There is a whole science behind this, if a floor is slippery, the chances of an accident increase dramatically, a wet tiled floor can have a chance of a slip as high as 1 in 2 where the same dry floor is nearer 1 in 1,000,000. So, the challenge to businesses is to manage the risk of water and other spills wherever they occur. That’s why mats are so common in entrance areas and bathrooms.

We came across one business who told us that their insurance premium had gone from £5000 per year to over £50,000 after two claims were made in a short period of time. So, there is a real cost to businesses of getting this wrong.

Of course the real impact is on the people who have the fall and, the injury can be real and life changing, you don’t need to fall far to do damage and, the elderly are particularly at risk. We all have a commitment to safety but sometimes, we don’t see what is right under our nose.

The problem is that when we go into the same shop, café or store every day, we don’t really see it, our eyes glance over the familiar scene. So, try something for me… The next time you walk into your work, really take a good look and see it as if you were visiting for the first time, as your customer (or even a safety inspector) would. It can be a revelation. I ask people I meet at networking events to do this and, very often, I get a call the next day from people surprised at what they saw when they really looked properly.

Stopping slips and falls wasn’t the original idea behind UKSafety Mats, I had the idea when was working for a large company manufacturing Musical Instruments and, I was visiting a reseller who wanted to create a splash (pun intended) around a new Digital Piano but there was literally no space to put any advertising, every wall space was packed with Guitars, Banjos and Ukuleles.  

“Let’s put an advert on the floor.” he said and so started a 20-year journey. To this day, I love getting calls and emails from business owners who have just unwrapped and unrolled their new mats printed with their logo excitedly telling me how much everyone loves them and that and that no one wants to walk on them and get them dirty.

There are lots of reasons why businesses choose to buy a new printed mat and, you may be surprised to hear that over 80% of the mats that we sell are printed with a client’s design on them.

Often, it is a new café or store opening, the owner has a specific look that they are going for and a printed mat is professional and keeps the whole space looking good, the same goes for companies attending exhibitions, a printed logo mat marks out their space in a way that is really hard to do.

The panic calls do stick in your mind though, I remember one wet Friday evening around 7pm, the concierge from one of Edinburgh’s more prestigious hotels called me. An elderly American guest had slipped when coming into the hotel and had had to make a precautionary visit to A&E.

It went something like this:

“Good evening UKSafety Mats, how can I help.”

“Hello, Are you based in Scotland?”

“Yes sir, how can I help?”

“Could you possibly deliver eight large mats to us now? I mean this evening, and, by this evening, I mean in the next hour or so? NOW would be just great!! Please.”

You get the idea.

So, I have two simple requests, give a quick thought to the safety of your floors, where does Water meet Floor, meet Feet and have you done everything you can do avoid or protect slippery areas?

And, finally, take a look around your business entrance, is it looking great, professional, fresh and the way you would want it to be? If you want to chat about how to improve it, give us a call.

Steve is the owner of UKSafetyMats.co.uk and advises business on keeping their floors safe

Steve Turner

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