The call from the nursing home came several hours after I had left the area. In fact, I was already a couple hundred miles away when I turned around and headed back.

According to the administrator, several nursing home residents had fallen in the last few hours. One fall had resulted in a severely broken hip. She added that one wing of the nursing home’s floor appeared slick.

We had a “fast floor situation” on our hands.

Some background. This facility was the customer of a distributor and used a chemical company’s entire floor care program. In other words, the nursing home did not use mopping solution from one company, finish from another, and so on.

The environmental staff had gotten behind and needed the floors stripped and refinished. Together, the distributor and I recommended a quality building service contractor we were confident could do the job. The floors were stripped and refinished in a timely manner and the job was done correctly. In fact, the job was completed the night before. The floors were excellent.

Based on our confidence in the products and positive experience with the contractor, we were surprised and concerned with the call. However, our concern was more for the injured residents than over the products or the work of the contractor. We had to respond. 

By the time I arrived, the contractor and the distributor representative had discovered the problem. One of the environmental service staff members had sprayed furniture polish on the handrails in the wing where the falls occurred. The quick response by the distributor and the contractor encouraged the administrator and restored her faith in the program.

We were able to “slow the floor down” by dust mopping, damp mopping and then spray buffing with a red pad. This was a temporary fix but it worked for the time being. The contractor rearranged the schedule to enable a crew to come in that night to top scrub and recoat the floor.

End of story? Not quite. Several lessons were learned from this incident.

1.) The distributor representative sold all of the janitorial products to the facility, which included the furniture polish. From this point forward, training was included in all product sales with the training verified by a sign-off sheet.

2.) The administrator realized that using one floor care program from one vendor is the only way to go.  Had she used floor care chemicals from different companies, and had we not found the furniture polish to be the problem, how would anyone move forward to determine product liability?

3.) The contractor learned the chemical company he was using from the distributor had Supply Chain Liability Insurance. Why is this important? We live in a society where litigation is common. Not only do legitimate slip falls occur but there are scams regularly reported in the news. Having supply chain insurance from your vendor means you have someone powerful in your corner should litigation occur.