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Safety and cleaning first 3 Mar, 2014

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. However, to ensure it performs at its best – both now and in the future – the right cleaning regimes need to be put in place, not only to preserve its safety capabilities, but also to protect building users and cleaning operatives, as Natalie Dowse, Marketing and Product Manager for Truvox International Ltd, explains.

Health and safety has become an integral part of all our lives. Whether we’re at work or at play, a whole host of rules and regulations exist, which are designed to protect us from risks and injury. It’s arguably had the greatest impact on the workplace, and a wide range of safety products have been created to help employers and business owners comply.

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 the best safety flooring for your particular setting 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, and that those tasked with cleaning it, and others also using the building, are protected.

Health, safety and welfare issues

In its information sheet, ‘Slips and trips: the importance of floor cleaning’, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states that slips and trips are the most common cause of major injuries at work, costing industry over £500 million per year. It goes on to say that, ‘where cleaning is carried out effectively, it can make the difference between a floor being an unacceptably high slip risk or an acceptably low slip risk’. The HSE also highlights some key points:

Floor cleaning can cause or prevent slips and trips – choose the right method

People rarely slip on clean, dry floors

Three control measures are needed to prevent slips and trips: effective management systems; contamination control; and obstacle removal

The importance of preventing slips and trips in the workplace is the subject of a one-day course, run by the Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL). As well as supporting the HSE, it also works with other public and private sector organisations, conducting research and development work on their behalf.

HSL states that: ‘The biggest challenges when trying to reduce slips in the workplace are knowing where to get reliable information on flooring, understanding the ins and outs of cleaning, and knowing how to select footwear. Understanding the science behind slips and trips makes it easier to identify the true cause of a fall and prevent future incidents.’

The right equipment delivers the right results

Running a business or providing a public service in the 21st century is a challenge. With so many issues to consider – health and safety being one of them – employers and business owners can’t hope to be experts in every single field. But help is at hand. Partnering with a trusted and knowledgeable cleaning equipment supplier or contract cleaner, with a proven track record of delivering results to satisfied clients, will pay dividends.

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.

The Truvox Multiwash is a good example of how high performance and results can be delivered safely – and the range will be enhanced and expanded with the launch of a new model this year, so watch this space! This multi-purpose floor cleaning machine can mop and scrub both hard and soft floors – but its key safety feature is that it can clean and dry in one single pass. This means that the Multiwash not only leaves floors scrupulously clean, it also ensures floors are safe to walk on in less time. Quiet in operation, with excellent manoeuvrability, it is perfect for hospitals, schools, nursing homes, food service areas and retail premises – all locations where safety is paramount. The Multiwash is highly effective on ‘difficult’ floors, including non-slip safety floors, low pile carpets, tiles and escalators.

Any floor surfacing material can be cleaned by the Multiwash, and not just what’s flat on the floor. The machine’s optional side brush enables cleaning to ‘skirting board’ level, which is especially important with safety flooring, which tends to curve up the wall before it finishes, and in places like wet rooms.

A choice of brushes is available, for normal, maintenance cleaning or intensive scrubbing. These run at an effective speed and pressure, and don’t cause too much friction, which can sometimes cause damage to specialist flooring. In addition, the brushes can be colour-coded to prevent cross contamination, and being made from poly-propylene they are easy to disinfect, and don’t harbour bacteria like natural fibres can.

We expect a lot from our flooring nowadays – and safety is top of the list. There are many different solutions and products on the market, so do your research well and speak to the experts. And remember – the better the cleaning regime, the safer the flooring.

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