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Winter Floor Care For Safety

by | Feb 24, 2017 | Safe Workplace Tips | 0 comments

Commercial Carpet Cleaning and Floor Care for Winter

Winter storms present a significant financial challenge for business owners and property managers.

Heavy snows and rainfall can lead to increased incidences of slips and falls.

Melted snow can damage hard floors and carpets and, if left untreated, result in a mold and mildew problem, as well as present additional slipping hazards inside the facility.

Tracked in snow can also contain mud and salt, resulting in further damage to carpets and flooring.

Slip and Fall Season

An estimated 25 thousand slip and fall accidents occur every year, averaging approximately $50 thousand dollars in defense costs, per incident.

The building owner or property manager is financially responsible for any damages that result from negligently secured areas, called ‘premises liability,’ including accidents that arise from;

  • Uncleared snow.
  • Clear ice, and;
  • Improperly secured mats and rugs.

Minnesota state law is quite clear on the matter.

According to KnowYourRights.com;

In Minnesota, premises liability holds the owner or manager of the property responsible for injuries sustained on their property. It is the owner’s responsibility to properly maintain their property so that it is a safe environment.

-Premises Liability – Frequently Asked Questions

Potential Damage

When tracked in snow melts, carpets absorb everything within the snow, including dirt and salt.

Excessive moisture will lead to mold and mildew, creating a customer repulsing smell; ultimately resulting in the need to replace affected carpets and rugs, which is expensive.

Salt will eventually build up, leaving an unattractive white, crusty layer and ultimately eat away at the fibers, also resulting in the need for new carpet.

[sic]…road salt has a high alkaline content and it can cause more damage to carpets than simply leaving a stain. The salt needs to be removed as quickly as possible because, if left alone, over time it will eventually break down the fibers, permanently damaging the carpet.

-Road Salt Wrecks Carpet

Chemicals commonly found in road salt (Ice Melters) will also destroy stone and terrazzo flooring.

According to Dr. Frederick M. Hueston, Ph.D.;

When snow and ice melts, the salts used in deicers become soluble. The water wicks into the pores of the stone and masonry, carrying the salts with it. When the water evaporates the salts recrystallize. The pressure created in the pores of the stone and masonry cause the surface to flake off or spall. This process is known as subflorescence.

Are Ice and Snow Melters Destroying Your Stone and Terrazzo Floors?

The Dirty Truth

Dirt tracked in from the outside is a year-round problem for property managers.

The issue is compounded in the winter due to large quantities of dust particles in snow crystals, as well as snow’s ability to adhere to shoes and clothing.

According to 3M;

  • 80% of soil in buildings is tracked in from the outside.
  • One person tracks in 0.02 ounces–0.58 grams–of dirt per day.

So, if 100 people come through your door, five days per week, that totals two ounces of dirt per day or 32.5 pounds (15 Kilograms) per year.

In 1985, the ISSA estimated that the cost to remove one pound of dirt from the floor was $500 or more; you can imagine what it costs today.

That means, at 32.5 pounds of dirt per year, you’re looking at a cost in the vicinity of $16,250, at a minimum.

For More Information:

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On the Matter of Mats

Professionally installed floormats address potentially litigious slips and falls, capture up to 95% of contaminants that are brought into a building, and cost substantially less than a lawsuit and a new floor.

The ideal distance coverage area is between 15 and 25 feet.

According to Cleaning and Maintenance Management;

An adult will likely have a three-foot stride when walking. This typically means that 15 to 25 feet of matting will be needed to adequately collect the soil and moisture transported on the bottom of someone’s shoes.

Studies by the American Institute of Architects found that five feet of matting at building entries will capture approximately 33 percent of moisture and soil; 10 feet will capture 52 percent; 20 feet of matting brings this up to 86 percent; and 25 feet will capture just about all soil and moisture on shoe bottoms, protecting the floor from damage.

-The Battle Begins: Winter challenges that can wallop floors

Green Cleaning Tips

Depending on the type of flooring and the volume of traffic through your office building, we recommend the following tips for property managers:

  • Purchase and install commercial grade entry mats.
  • Strip and refinish hard flooring early in the season, then again when it begins to warm up and the rain subsides.
  • Vacuum heavy footfall areas daily with a HEPA filtered vacuum.
  • Run a hot water extractor across all primary traffic areas weekly.
  • Bonnet clean carpets at regular intervals throughout the season, based on your buildings traffic volume.
  • Use a deep extractor at the end of the season to restore your carpet to its pre-winter appearance.
  • When the rain does finally stop, sweep off all the walkways and sidewalks to remove leftover salt.

For More Information:

  • Protect Your Carpet From Winter to Spring

References

Takeaway

Winter rain, snow, and ice present serious challenges to business owners and property managers.

Maintaining your building’s appearance is one thing, but ensuring the safety of your staff and customers must take precedence.

Aside from a professional green carpet cleaning and floor maintenance program, the most cost-effective approach to protecting your business is to install high-quality, commercial grade entry mats.

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