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Hard Floor Care / Slip/Fall Prevention / IAQ / Safety
November 2013 Feature 2

Putting Facility Safety First

Minimizing slip-and-fall risk factors while improving indoor air quality.

November 11, 2013
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People expect the facilities they work in and visit to be clean and safe, and ensuring the safety of visitors and staff is among the most important jobs facilities directors perform.

Reducing cleaning-related hazards — including slippery floors, poor indoor air quality and handling and mixing chemicals — can help make any facility much safer.

Slip and fall accidents account for a large number of lost workdays, high medical costs and higher insurance rates.

Slip And Fall Culprits

Wet or slippery floor surfaces are a major cause of slips, and many types of highly polished floors including terrazzo, marble and ceramic tile can be extremely slippery — even when dry.

In addition to actually cleaning, ensuring floors are not slippery is a key aim of a floor maintenance program.

Improperly diluted chemicals used in floor scrubbing machines can leave a slippery residue, increasing the risk of slip-and-fall accidents.

Newer, chemical-free technologies leave no residue and may actually remove built up cleaning chemical residue.

Using floor scrubbing machines that feature effective water recovery means floors dry fast, reducing the risk of slip-and-fall accidents and enabling daytime cleaning while maintaining a safe environment.

“We don’t use chemicals on our floors, and using auto scrubbers helps ensure the floors are safe and not slick,” said Rod Pollard, director of environmental services — Sodexo, University Hospitals Case Medical Center, Cleveland, Ohio. “We have one of the best safety records in the Cleveland area due to equipment and training, and over the last four years our accident rate has dropped at least 60 percent.”

In addition, using chemical-free orbital scrubbing to remove floor finish minimizes airborne chemicals, creating a safer environment for employees and visitors.

Rectangular scrub heads easily reach into corners and enclosed areas.

Ergonomic design reduces vibration and improves operator comfort.

Orbital scrubbing floor finish removal delivers performance without the risk of chemicals.

Testing For Safety

NSF International is an independent, accredited public health and safety organization that tests, audits and certifies products and systems.

“NSF-certified” or “NSF listed” products display the applicable NSF certification mark to show that they have been rigorously tested by one of the most respected independent product testing organizations.

Floor coatings and cleaning products that are certified by the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI) as “high traction” also can reduce the risk of slip and fall accidents.

According to the NFSI, eight million Americans seek emergency room treatment each year for accidental falls and 55 percent of slips, trips and falls are caused by a hazardous walkway.

For many companies, falls are among the leading causes of employee and guest injuries.

In addition to high traction benefits, floor coatings also make floors easier to clean by increasing durability and chemical resistance, and decreasing dust, dirt and liquid build-up.

This, in turn, reduces maintenance and protects the floor's natural life, so visitors and guests can appreciate clean, well-maintained floors and a better overall experience.

NFSI product certification requires a closed loop delivery system that reduces the chance of user error.

To achieve one of the safest floors possible, combine NFSI-certified coatings with scrubbers featuring NFSI-certified chemical-free scrubbing technology.

“The only conventional cleaning chemicals we use in our new, 440,000-square-foot research building are bathroom disinfectants,” said John Jepsen, resident regional manager, Housekeeping Services — Crothall, UMASS Memorial Medical Center, Worcester, Massachusetts. “With 330 full-time equivalent staff, we’ve only had one slip-and-fall accident in the last 16 months — compared to five to 10 a year at a cost of up to $25,000 per accident.”

Dilution And Air Quality

Many conventional cleaning chemicals are concentrated and must be diluted with water before use.

During this dilution process, maintenance staff members face an increased risk of splash accidents and spills.

An additional safety benefit of chemical-free cleaning is the reduced risk of chemical splash accidents.

Gloves and eye protection can help protect cleaning staff, but a safer route is using nontoxic products and cleaning processes that reduce risks to staff and guests.

Amid rising asthma rates, cleaning chemical smells are increasingly seen as unhealthy and being odor neutral is much more desirable — as well as a good indicator of a clean environment.

Chemical-free floor scrubbing eliminates floor cleaning chemical smells and can help create a safer environment for employees and visitors.

According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, among new-onset cases of work-related asthma, 39 percent indicated their most likely exposure had been in medical settings, 22 percent worked as janitors and 20 percent worked as nurses/nurses aides.

Finally, because cleaning often must be performed while a facility is occupied, using nontoxic or least toxic cleaning products is critical to enhancing safety.

In order to promote a healthy environment, consider using only cleaning products that minimize slip-and-fall accidents, splash accidents and have minimal impact on indoor air quality.

1U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
California Department of Public Health


Chris Wetmore is director, strategic markets — healthcare and BSC with Tennant Company in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Wetmore oversees a team of strategic account leaders who provide cleaning solutions specifically to the Healthcare and BSC markets. With more than 20 years of experience, he has become a valued resource and subject matter expert for BSCs and healthcare facilities looking for solutions to their industrial or commercial cleaning problems. For more information, visit

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