We all know the goal of the professional cleaning industry is to help protect human health. Well, that goes beyond the types of cleaning chemicals, tools, and equipment we use along with the manner in which we use these products. It also applies to helping prevent injuries from occurring, and the big concern is slip and fall accidents.
Slip and fall accidents can happen any time of year, but they are more prevalent in the winter, especially in the many areas of the country that experience adverse weather. This means that we must take extra steps to help ensure the health and safety of the people using the buildings we clean as they arrive at and enter the facility.
A little advanced preparation now, a month or two before the real cold, snowy, and wet weather of winter approaches, should do the job. This can help minimize if not eliminate the potential for a slip and fall accident to occur. The following are ten ways for you to help safeguard building users as winter approaches and once it is in full swing:
1. Before winter arrives, inspect all outdoor walkways, entry ways, stairways, and high traffic areas; determine which areas will need special attention this winter. For instance, some walkways will need ice melt; others may collect debris which must be removed. Indoor high traffic areas may need mats to help remove moisture from shoe bottoms and keep floors clean and dry.
2. Fill outdoor holes and depressions that may fill up with snow and ice; check to see if walkway cement and brickwork needs repair and have it attended to now.
3. Determine what products will be needed for winter and stock up now; for instance, make sure there is plenty of ice melt on hand; inspect mats to see if they are long enough (a total of 15 feet inside and outside the facility), and can effectively handle cold and wet winter weather.
4. If hard surface floors need to be refinished, do it now before the cold winter weather arrives. Winter weather is not only cold, but it can be very dry; both these conditions can negatively impact how well floor finish dries and adheres to the floor.
5. Develop a floor inspection program for your staff; the goal here is to ensure the floors are inspected throughout the day to ensure they are clean and dry.
6. If moisture is detected on floors, install safety signs a few feet before the moist floor area and around the problem area; after cleaning, leave the signs up for about 30 minutes to ensure people take notice of the hazard until the floor is completely dry.
7. Also when moisture is detected on floors, avoid using mops, as a soiled mop can actually make the situation worse and even cause a slip and fall accident. Instead, have an SUV floor cleaning system handy and ready to go; the SUV also comes with supplies such as a broom to collect debris, holders for spray bottles, a wand, and a safety sign. Use all that are needed to clean and dry the floor immediately.
8. Depending on conditions, clean all entry and key floors daily because moisture and soil build-up can damage the floor’s finish. Again, avoid using mops; an AutoVac or SUV system should be used instead; these clean more effectively and are more gentle on floor finish.
9. While it is not a good idea to refinish a floor during the cold of winter, a thin layer of finish can be applied; this will help protect the finish and the floor, and make it easier to keep the floor clean.
10. Finally, keep a record of all floor care tasks; should the unfortunate happen and there is a slip and fall accident, you want to make sure you have a written record of all the steps you have taken to keep floors clean and safe.
Robert Kravitz is a former building service contractor, having owned, operated, and then sold three contract cleaning companies in Northern California.
He is the author of two books about the industry and continues to be a frequent writer for the industry.
Robert is now president of AlturaSolutions Communications, which provides communications and marketing services for organizations in the professional cleaning and building industries.