Prepare for the elements

04 December 2017

Maureen Kelso, head of standards & verification at the British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc), looks at how business can help reduce the risk to cleaning operatives and other building users as well as equipment and materials, during the winter months

As we know the slip risk in certain areas will increase during winter due to the change in weather conditions. Rain, snow and high winds all put extra pressure on maintaining the safety and cleanliness of entrance areas.

How we deal with the area is of paramount importance: should floors be left in a wet condition they will take longer to dry, if the area is unheated the risk of ice forming can greatly increase.

The cleaning regime must be properly controlled to ensure that where possible machinery should be used in entrance areas that ensure the surface is cleaned and dried sufficiently to reduce the risk.

Where the area is not large enough to warrant machinery, cleaning operatives must be shown how to prepare solutions correctly, use well rung out mopping systems and where previous incidents of slipping have been recorded during very wet or winter months dry the floor.

Leaving the floor to air dry when no natural heat or central heating is installed not only increases the slip factor but will also allow the floor to re-soil very quickly.


The other main factor during the winter months that we have to contend with is gritting salt. The salt, depending on type used, not only damages the building fabrics but the floor surfaces.

Gritting salt can also cause a slip factor. Again, the regime of cleaning entrance areas may be improved by increased cleaning frequencies to lower the slip risk, more so on specific hard floor surfaces such as marble.

The cleaning of equipment we use such as dust control mop sweepers can and will pick up grit but if this is not cleaned at regular intervals it may also scratch the hard floor surfaces.

The use of scrubber dryers should also be monitored as grit may become embedded in the squeegee blade again causing damage to the surface. Filters must be checked and cleaned as the grit will cause the machines to perform poorly and damage the motor.

Where mopping systems are used the mop should be checked and changed at frequent intervals and the water changed to prevent re-soiling.

All equipment and materials must be fully cleaned on completion to remove any traces of the salt. If not carried out correctly this equipment and materials will start to deteriorate due to the salt activity.