MP Cheryl Gillan has vowed to look into the concerns of a company which believes there is a worrying lack of awareness over the safety standard for bath and shower mats.
Mrs Gillan, a former Cabinet minister, visited Isagi Ltd last month and pledged to investigate after being given a presentation on the issue by company directors.
She will now be testing out the safety mats herself to see how they help the disabled and elderly, and will also be looking into Isagi’s complaint that no specific official accident statistics appear to exist for slips on bath and shower mats.
Hundreds of people are believed to be injured every year after slipping in the bath or shower. The falls are of such concern that a British Standard for bath and shower mat slip resistance was introduced two years ago with the aim of cutting down on the injuries.
But Isagi – which specialises in the supply of non-slip matting and fabrics – says there is not enough public awareness of the standard, especially since no official statistics appear to be kept to monitor this type of accident.
Managing Director Andrew Guilbert said: “I am amazed by the lack of awareness generally over this standard and surprised after carrying out extensive research that there appears to be no specific statistics for these accidents.
“We have statistics for just about everything in this country – but not it seems for something which could have such an impact on the elderly and vulnerable let alone avoidable costs to our NHS service. We believe, from the research that we have undertaken and from previous figures, that hundreds of people are injured every year in the UK – and yet there are no current statistics to alert the public to precisely how dangerous this is.”
He added: “If you don’t have the correct mat, and use it on the correct surface, following the manufacturer’s instructions, there is a potential accident in the bathroom waiting for you and your family. So many unnecessary accidents that could be avoided are happening all over the country due to this. It’s especially dangerous for elderly people who often cannot recover from a fall.
“Far greater action needs to be taken in general to make people aware of the problem and of the fact this safety standard actually exists to tackle it. Making people aware gives them the choice to buy an ordinary mat or one that is independently tested to ensure conformity with the British Standard for Slip Resistance Level 1 anti-slip mat or Level 2 comfort mat.”
Mr Guilbert, whose company recently won Innovative Business of the Year award in a prestigious contest in Buckinghamshire, added: “Obviously, it’s in Isagi’s interests to sell more mats, but the public and care workers need to be aware of this standard.
“It’s too dangerous to ignore this. We have spent a lot of time and money on ensuring we meet the standard, and yet when I speak to people at events and trade fairs, there really doesn’t seem to be much awareness that the standard exists.”
The standard is voluntary and is not enforced.
Mrs Gillan said, after the visit to the company’s offices in Chesham, Bucks: “I am very concerned there are standards for bath mats slip resistance that have been developed but don’t seem to have been spun out across the health services and to people who are looking after the elderly.
“I have bought two bath mats myself and will be testing them over the summer and I am looking more closely at just what protections are afforded to the elderly and disabled in terms of the materials that are available to keep people safer.
“I was keen to try the products for myself as various family members have mobility problems and I think these could be helpful.”
Mrs Gillan, who is MP for Chesham and Amersham, also told Isagi she would investigate the issue of the apparent lack of statistics.
* Have you or a member of your family had an accident after falling in the bath or shower? If so, Isagi would like to hear from you to help the campaign for greater awareness. Please email: email@example.com