Improving Floor Safety During Winter

Issue Date
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DIV20/24

Improving Floor Safety During Winter

Wet and dirty floors can be a common occurrence during autumn and winter when bad weather means building occupiers and visitors bring more water and soiling inside on their shoes. This increases the risk of the slips and trips which cause so many of the reportable accidents and injuries in the workplace and public spaces. The challenge facing anyone responsible for a building is to ensure that the floor retains its appearance and remains safe. Scrubber driers are effective and efficient at meeting this challenge.

Slips and trip can be a significant problem. The latest figures from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), for the year ending March 2019, show slips, trips, and falls from the same level remain the biggest cause of workplace injuries. The HSE says these accounted for 29 per cent of all reportable non-fatal workplace injuries during the year: equivalent to 20,000 reportable injuries or around one every thirty minutes. It also says slips and trips are the most frequently reported injury to members of the public. About 90 per cent of reported injuries are broken bones. According to the HSE, the total cost to employers each year is around £500m while the cost to society overall is over £800m. These figures are improving, year on year, thanks to efforts by regulators and the various stakeholders but there is more to do.

One of the biggest causes of these accidents is contamination on floors. Improved cleaning and floorcare can make a big difference in reducing the risk of slips and trips. It will also remove soiling that can be unsightly and cause long-term damage to the floor. Inevitably it falls on building operators and owners to take responsibility for mitigating the risk to their employees, guests, and visitors. 

In most buildings the biggest problem is likely to be just inside the door because this is closest to wet outdoor areas and intensely used by people entering the building. Floors in these areas are typically hard surfaces such as vinyl, ceramic or stone which can be particularly susceptible to causing slips when they are wet or dirty. But they are easy to clean and maintain with the right equipment.

For many cleaning teams the equipment of choice is the scrubber drier. These advanced machines, which clean and dry the floor in a single pass, are also ideal for emergency clearing of puddles and spillages.

One of the big benefits of the scrubber drier is that it actively cleans the floor, picks up debris and removes the soiled water with a combination of squeegee and suction to leave the surface clean and dry. The machine should be used with the correct pads or brushes and an appropriate cleaning product to ensure dirt is removed completely while helping to protect the flooring material for a long life of low maintenance. Choosing the right combination will save time, reduce any need for repeat cleaning and minimise costs.

Scrubber driers come in all shapes and sizes, with the smallest no bigger than an upright domestic vacuum cleaner and the largest the size of a small car for cleaning the largest floors in places like hospitals, supermarkets, transport hubs, and shopping centres. It is important to match the size of machine to the proposed application. Too large and it will probably be underutilised and unproductive, ultimately costing more to own and operate. Too small, and it could be overused, inefficient and prone to more unscheduled outages. 

Suppliers with the largest ranges make it specify a model that is closely matched to a particular application. A wider range also helps customers to choose all their machines from a single source. This enables greater deployment flexibility and can lead to significant purchase, operating and maintenance cost savings. 

Not all scrubber driers are the same. The best designs will remove all – or almost all - of the water or cleaning solution in a single pass. This will mean the floor is clean, dry, and safely back in use as soon as possible. Battery powered machines offer the convenience of total independence from local power sockets with the added advantage of having no trailing power cables although some of the smallest machines are mains powered for speed of use and convenience. Look out too for machines that can reduce consumption of water, energy and cleaning solutions because this will promote sustainability and save costs.

It is important to make sure that cleaning is done regularly throughout the day to remove the build-up of dirt that can increase the risk of slips and trips. It is also vital to clean up puddles or patches of water as quickly as possible as these often present the biggest risk of all. Reputable cleaning suppliers will work with end users to identify the most appropriate products, tools and processes and provide advice on the best ways to keep a building in safe and tip-top condition.