Fall on Wet Bathroom Floor Leads to Surgery and Major Complications

Loss Amount: $360,000

Situation: An employee slipped and fell in a puddle of water left on the bathroom floor, injuring his kneecap. The surgery required to repair his knee resulted in an infection and he was placed on antibiotics. Six months later the employee had a seizure and re-injured his knee.

An examination revealed a large fungal infection behind the employee’s ear that was caused by the long-term use of antibiotics. The infection was removed, but because of a reoccurrence of the infection, a second surgery was required. Following this second surgery, the employee began complaining of dizziness and eye problems.

It was found the employee had right vestibular neuronitis, a condition that causes a sudden onset of spinning vertigo associated with nausea. Another surgery was performed and additional medications and treatment were prescribed. The employee then had to undergo another surgery for a hearing problem related to the fall.

Lesson Learned: This accident was caused by water left on the bathroom floor. Management and employees should anticipate that areas in or around bathrooms, laundry sinks, raised tubs, kennels, hose stations, coffee machines and drinking fountains may have water on the floor.

Note: Workers’ compensation coverage is generally responsible for the complications arising from on the job injuries, except for medical malpractice.

The following steps could be taken to reduce the risk of similar accidents:

  • Floors can be coated with an anti-skid material to increase their surface traction when wet. Mats in front of sinks may also help reduce risks of a slip and fall accident on wet floors.
  • Sinks and the areas where people dry their hands should be evaluated. Sinks should be large enough to allow users to wash their hands without spilling water onto the floor. Towels or air drying units should be located as close as possible to sinks, but away from restroom entrance/exit doors. Drains and water lines should be inspected regularly and leaks should be repaired immediately. Water pressure should also be checked as excessive pressure may cause water to splash out of the sink and onto the floor.
  • Signs warning of the dangers of slippery or wet floors, and signs asking employees to wipe up spills, could be placed in obvious places in the areas where spills might occur.
  • Employees who work in any potentially wet areas should be required to wear slip resistant footwear. Leather soled or athletic shoes do not provide adequate traction on most wet surfaces.
  • Regular housekeeping, whether completed by staff or an outside contractor, is important. Restroom floors and other wet areas should be checked periodically and cleaned as needed based on their use. Those that have high traffic may need to be maintained hourly, while others may just need to be cleaned once a day. When it’s busy and the floors cannot be cleaned immediately, warning cones or a dry towel should be used to mark the hazard. Then return and clean the area as soon as possible.

For further assistance in preventing all types of losses, call VISC at 888.762.3143.