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Staying clean & safe

27 November 2013

Flooring has developed and adapted in response to a growing need to answer specific safety concerns, and various options are now available for different locations and activities. But to ensure it performs at its best – both now and in the future – the right cleaning regimes need to be put in place, as Natalie Dowse, marketing and product manager for Truvox International, explains

Health and safety are two words that can provoke extreme reactions. Like that well-known brand Marmite, you either love it or hate it. However, unlike Marmite, it’s something we simply can’t avoid – whether at work or play. A seemingly vast number of rules and regulations now exist, which are designed to protect us from risks and injury.

There’s no doubt that flooring has changed considerably over recent years, adapting and developing in response to the needs of various sectors/activities. Safety is one of the main catalysts for these changes, with new surfaces, coatings and materials emerging to offer added benefits and reduce the risk of slips, trips and falls. 

But installing safety flooring is only the first step – how you are going to clean and care for your floor in the years to come is just as, if not more, important. The correct cleaning and maintenance of flooring not only prolongs its life – saving you time and money in the long run – it also helps to ensure that the flooring is performing at its best. 

Health, safety and welfare issues

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) offers advice on many aspects of the workplace environment including the safety of floors and traffic routes. The HSE says: "Floors and traffic routes should be sound and strong enough for the loads placed on them and the traffic expected to use them. The surfaces should not have holes or be uneven or slippery, and should be kept free of obstructions and from any article or substance which may cause a person to slip, trip or fall.”

In its technical information sheet, ‘Assessing the slip resistance of flooring’, the HSE says that there are at least 35,000 injuries per annum throughout Great Britain, which amounts to one serious slip accident every three minutes. That’s quite a shocking statistic, but by installing the most appropriate flooring and putting in place regular, responsive cleaning regimes, using the right cleaning equipment to get the best results, companies and organisations can guard against this happening to their employees and customers.

Different locations – such as hospitals, schools, retail outlets, sports halls and kitchens – will have different flooring needs. However, there are some common requirements that are relevant to virtually all situations, namely flooring should be slip-resistant, hygienic, easy to clean and long-lasting.

Infection prevention and cross contamination is also an important issue – and not just for healthcare providers. It’s in the interests of all employers, whatever their business, to guard against the spread of bugs, and so a thorough cleaning and disinfection regime to combat this can be supported by impervious surfaces that are easy to clean.

The right equipment delivers the right results

Safety flooring will require maintenance tailored for its particular characteristics to ensure it does its job properly. Flooring surfaces can also change from location to location within a site, from carpeting to vinyl, and wood to tile, for example. There are also health and safety implications for the cleaning regimes themselves, as accidents can occur when staff or customers slip on wet floors or over trailing power leads, especially if cleaning is taking place during the day.

Giving your operatives equipment that reduces these risks is therefore advisable, and today’s cleaning machines offer not only better results, but also increased safety too. Some scrubber dryers have now evolved to leave floors clean and dry in one pass – guarding against slips – and cordless versions eliminate the need for trailing leads, addressing the trip issue. Many machines are now lighter, smaller and easier to manoeuvre, with the added ability to switch brushes and tackle a range of different surfaces. High pressure scrubber dryers are particularly effective on non-slip safety flooring, and also work well on tiles, which have grout lines.

We expect a lot from our flooring nowadays, and safety is top of the list – so it’s wise to remember the better the cleaning regime, the safer the flooring.