By Donald Landin
If you’ve ever slipped and fallen on a wet surface, you’re not alone. Each year, poorly maintained floors are responsible for more than 2 million customer and employee fall injuries, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The result: billions of dollars in medical, insurance and litigation costs for businesses.
How can these falls and the resulting costs be prevented? While regular sweeping and mopping is beneficial, a comprehensive floor maintenance system can be helpful in preventing these slips and falls.
A key to fewer fall accidents, and better-looking floors, depends on implementing a quality, comprehensive floor maintenance system. The right combination of the right products gives you optimal results, ensuring floors not only look great, but are in great condition as well.
Finding the best floor care system doesn’t have to be difficult. Start by following these steps and you too can have shinier, safer surfaces:
• Research your options.
If you want the most reliable method, look for companies that offer complete floor care systems. In a complete system, products are designed to work together to deliver quality, effective results.
• Review product safety.
Another important factor in choosing a maintenance system is whether its products meet the ANSI B101 floor safety standards. Under wet conditions, some flooring products can lead to more accidental falls, rather than helping to prevent them.
Choose products that have received a “high traction” certification by the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI), meaning they’re linked with the lowest probability of slipping.
According to the NFSI, “high traction” walkways, which have a wet SCOF value of 0.60 or greater, have been proven to reduce slip-and-fall claims by as much as 90%.
• Prepare and protect your floor.
All floor maintenance systems, from the easy-to-use to the most complicated, must begin with the same basic steps. First, dust and mop the floor to remove any dry debris. Then, scrub the floor with either a neutral or solvent-based cleaner to cut through dirt and grime.
After basic cleaning, you must select products to prepare and protect your floor’s surface — the final, and arguably most important, step.
There are a variety of floor care products available, each with its own pros and cons, so take time to evaluate your options. Here’s a brief overview:
Densifiers strengthen concrete floors by filling in pores and increasing surface density. However, they do not provide a nice aesthetic and often leave floors susceptible to dirt.
Impregnators penetrate below the surface to strengthen and seal stone floors. While the treatment deters water, oil and dirt from entering the stone, it does not completely repel it.
Topicals, also known as finishes, only affect a floor’s surface. To achieve a shiny gloss look, most floors require four to six applications of a topical. However, the treatments tend to scratch easily and require regular burnishing.
Protectors combine the benefits of densifiers, impregnators and thin topicals all in one. Generally speaking, this is a good option for floor maintenance. After a quick burnish, the best products can restore a floor’s luster in two thin coats. Hydrophobic protectors are ideal because of their ability to repel water, leaving a less slippery walking surface.
Slips and falls happen. Take a step in the right direction toward safer walkways and implement a smart floor care system today.
Donald Landin, Ph.D., is a senior technical service specialist with 3M.