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The benefits of battery-powered floor cleaning machines 5 May, 2014

Natalie Dowse, Marketing and Product Manager for Truvox International Ltd, outlines the main benefit that battery power can offer when cleaning floors in a variety of settings, and offers tips on how to care for batteries.

Q: My company is looking to replace its old floor cleaning machines and we're thinking of switching to battery-powered models - is this a wise move?

A: The major benefit of battery-powered floor cleaning machines is their ability to reduce the risk of trips and falls. With no trailing cables and leads to cause hazards in the workplace, either to people using the building or to cleaning operatives themselves, health and safety can be improved.

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 suggests that removing obstacles is one way to reduce risks, and places cables and leads from cleaning equipment as the first in its list of potential trip hazards.

The HSE offers further advice in its ‘Slips and Trips Hazard Spotting Checklist’. This document, available to download from the HSE website, gives a checklist that provides examples of hazards that can be found in and around workplaces, with suggested actions to resolve potential problems. In its section on cleaning it asks the question, can cleaning equipment leads be seen crossing or blocking walkways, creating a trip hazard? Its main suggested actions are:

  • Coil up unused equipment cable
  • Change power source – provide additional power sockets; use socket nearest the area being cleaned
  • Consider changing to battery-powered equipment

Therefore, any company or organisation wishing to improve their health and safety would be wise to consider including battery-powered machines in their floor cleaning regimes.

How to care for your batteries

Looking after your equipment is crucial in terms of ensuring that there is no break in service delivery, which can be costly in terms of time and money. Building in regular maintenance time will be of great benefit in the long run, as this will help to extend the life of your batteries.

One of the worst things that can happen to a battery is for it to be discharged too far. To protect against this, some floor cleaning machine manufacturers offer battery-powered models that incorporate electronic low battery cut-out devices to prevent this from happening. However, basic and routine battery maintenance should not be neglected – so here are some tips and issues to consider:

  • Check the water level in your batteries, if applicable
  • Check cables and connectors for cleanliness and make sure that they are secured tightly
  • Sealed batteries are usually referred to as ‘maintenance-free’ and, as far as the battery is concerned, this is correct. However, connections and cables will still need to be checked and maintained
  • Never leave deep-cycle batteries in a unit that will not be used for extended periods of time, without placing them on charge occasionally. All batteries will self-discharge over time, so it is important to keep them topped up
  • Keep your batteries and battery-operated equipment away from heat sources while storing them, as high heat effectively ‘kills’ batteries
  • Always wear personal protective equipment (PPE) – including safety goggles/glasses – when servicing batteries

Battery-power is an increasingly popular option when it comes to floor cleaning, and as technology develops even more options will become available to contract cleaners and facilities managers. Machines without leads are not only safer, in terms of reducing trips and falls, they are also easier to manoeuvre, and transport to and from different locations. When reviewing your floor cleaning regimes, battery-power is definitely an option to consider.

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