Magazine article Health Facilities Management

Winning Floors: Developing a Game Plan That Improves Aesthetics and Safety

Magazine article Health Facilities Management

Winning Floors: Developing a Game Plan That Improves Aesthetics and Safety

Article excerpt

Environmental services (ES) professionals know the value of highly shined and properly maintained floors. They not only provide a great first impression when the public enters a building, but they also keep building occupants and visitors safer from slips, trips and falls.

However, the value and safety that properly maintained floors provide comes at a cost. Some experts estimate that floor maintenance can account for as much as 80 percent of a facility's cleaning budget.

In uncertain economic times with shrinking cleaning budgets, the goal for all ES managers should be to make the most of their time and resources, especially when it comes to arguably the largest expenditure they have--floor care.

Outside influence

One of the biggest challenges in maintaining a floor is the outside environment. If a facility is near a coast, sand is the enemy. In snowy climates, the ice melt used to keep the walkways safe can be even worse. But these extremes are just parts of a broad spectrum of things that can destroy floor finishes and create safety concerns.

The debris that is tracked into a building from the parking lot causes a tremendous amount of damage over time if not addressed immediately at entryways. It is also imperative that ES professionals routinely address these invaders through a series of routine maintenance steps.

In addition to prevention and routine maintenance, several other variables come into play such as floor type and finish, cleaning chemical choice and more. If an ES professional doesn't have a strong game plan to maintain floors properly, these variables will conspire to increase labor and material costs, leaving a facility with inferior-looking floors that can result in accidents and potential lawsuits.

A successful floor care game plan includes the following elements:

A well-executed, properly maintained matting system. Ideally, all health care facilities will have overhead entryway coverings that block out weather elements before a visitor enters the building. In reality, not many facilities have that feature. Regardless of the protection provided, a basic knowledge of mat types and strategies, as well as a good matting system with a nonslip backing and beveled edges, can go a long way toward keeping floors intact and reducing hazards and costs.

Approximately 80 percent of the debris from footwear can be removed after walking over 20 feet of a matting system. If the system is extended to 40-feet long, the amount of soils removed can exceed 90 percent. The biggest bang for the buck in matting starts outside a facility's doors. Scraper mats come in all sizes and are designed to capture dirt and water from shoes. Scrapers can be made of rubber or different types of woven material and can be placed both inside and outside of entrances. They are big, aggressive defenders of the floor and do the bulk of the dirty work. As big and tough as scrapers are, they can't do their job if they're not used right. Well-placed scraper mats should extend past the width of the door opening. The scraper matting system should account for a large portion of the ideal 40 feet of matting.

Once dirt and debris cross the scraper mat, a secondary barrier should absorb residual dirt and moisture that got past the scrapers. A high-quality absorbent or scraper-absorber mat extends the matting system past the scrapers into the first 10 to 15 feet of the facility.

It's important to note that mats aren't only functional inside and outside entryways. Mats also are an effective way to keep buildings and occupants safe if strategically deployed in kitchens and food-prep areas, vending areas, break rooms, near water fountains and ice machines, and in other high-risk areas, depending on a facility's needs and priorities.

Regardless of where the matting systems are installed or what types of mats are selected, they need to be cleaned regularly. …

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