Don't Get Hurt in the Restroom at Work! 7 Dangers & How to Keep Safe

You probably don't think about being injured when walking into the bathroom at work. After all, you probably view the restroom as a place for some momentary rest and relaxation. However, restrooms found in offices and company facilities across America have several possible hidden dangers. Below are some of these hazards and how you can protect yourself from getting hurt:

1. Mopped floors

Custodial staff are usually tasked with placing the appropriate warning signs during and after mopping restroom floors. Conspicuous signs in bright colors should be placed in multiple locations in and outside restrooms. The doors should be barricaded to prevent entry. However, you should always take it upon yourself to step lightly and carefully when entering any restroom. Don't take an absence of signs as an "all-clear signal"; the best thing to do is to assume the floor is wet.

2. Floor mats

Floor mats in a restroom can help provide safety for users by giving them a place to wipe their feet. However, poorly maintained mats can be worse than non-existent ones; mats can bunch up and create serious trip hazards, for example.

Also, a floor mat that is saturated with liquids only provides a false sense of security as you walk; when you reach the hard floor again, the damp soles of your shoes will give you a rude awakening if you slip and fall. That's why it's important to keep your eyes open for floor mat bunching, edge-flipping and wet spots.

3. Soap spills

With the widespread use of liquid soap, accidental spills are a commonplace occurrence. Be on the alert for soapy puddles near dispensers, and be particularly wary of liquid hand sanitizer spills. Sanitizers typically contain a lubricant plus rubbing alcohol and can create a nearly invisible, slippery spot.

4. Toilet and sink leaks

Another lurking danger is leaky plumbing, particularly around toilets and sinks. Leaks around the bottom of a toilet are difficult to see, and it is easy to slip if you make a misstep. When in close proximity to a toilet or sink, make deliberate moves and don't be in a rush to take care of your business.

5. Hot water

Excessive hot water coming from a restroom sink can cause nasty burns, if the thermostat isn't adjusted correctly on the water heater. To protect yourself, always turn on the cold water first, and then slowly mix in hot water to verify that it isn't too hot for use.

6. Inadequate stall space

Many bathroom stalls, particularly older ones, are woefully low on space. With the doors opening inward in most stalls, and the cramped quarters inside, it is easy to lose your balance and fall. To keep this from happening, leave purses, bags, umbrellas and other items at your desk to keep your hands free.

Also, many of today's stalls contain mobility bars designed and installed with disabled persons in mind; however, don't be afraid to use them if you need them, regardless of your personal disability status.

7. Chemicals

Workplace custodial staff often use some fairly harsh chemicals, including bleach and ammonia, to clean restrooms. While most of these chemicals are fairly safe when used properly, some of them may cause irritation of nasal and sinus passages. Other people may experience responses such as headaches and dizziness.

If you see chemical residue in the bathroom, do not attempt to clean it unless you have the proper training and protective equipment. If you experience a negative health response to a chemical, ask for help to seek treatment for exposure to the substance.

What happens should you be injured?

If you find yourself getting hurt at work, even in the bathroom, don't dismiss your legal rights by ignoring it or blaming yourself. Contact a qualified, experienced workers' compensation law firm such as Lovett Schefrin Harnett for assistance. They can help provide you with information that will ensure you are treated fairly by the company.