According to the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), the average liability claim for a single work-related slip and fall accident is between $60,000 and $100,000.
Such costly injuries are often preventable, and by taking proactive measures, companies could save a significant amount of money every year.
One effortless, yet highly effective, solution to improve overall building safety is implementing a facility-wide mat program.
Mats trap and lock dirt and moisture — contaminants that often cause slick surfaces and lead to potential injuries.
Along with dirt control, facility managers can also enhance safety and productivity by using mats to increase employee comfort.
Currently, musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), such as foot, leg or back injuries, comprise one third of all workers'' compensation claims.
MSDs limit workers'' ability to comfortably perform their duties, which can quickly become costly from both a compensation and productivity standpoint.
By utilizing ergonomically-designed mats, facility managers can take initiative to reduce chronic pain and work-related MSDs.
In addition to providing injury prevention benefits, mats also enhance facility sustainability.
By actively improving indoor air quality (IAQ) and minimizing moisture and dirt particles throughout the building, mats preserve the integrity of equipment and flooring to prevent costly repairs and maintenance.
Wet, slick or soiled floors, bad lighting and poor housekeeping are some of the leading causes of work-related slips, trips and falls.
Utilizing high-quality, properly-placed mats can minimize these common dangers, thereby significantly reducing such incidents and ultimately impacting not only the facility''s productivity but also its bottom line.
Combining outdoor scraper mats with indoor brush mats creates an effective two-mat system that can prevent up to 90 percent of dirt and moisture from entering the building — effectively stopping it at the door.
Scraper mats, placed outside of facility entrances, are comprised of high-quality, patterned rubber to provide superior scraping power — removing tough dirt and soils from shoes prior to crossing the threshold.
Brush mats, located adjacent to scraper mats directly inside the doorway, act as a corresponding dirt and moisture magnet.
By preventing contaminants from infiltrating the facility, this two-mat system dramatically reduces the likelihood of falls in high-traffic areas by minimizing the accumulation of slippery substances on facility surfaces.
For additional protection against slips, trips and falls, utilizing non-skid standard dirt control mats throughout the facility will diminish buildup, providing safer floors.
Standard mats are constructed of specially-engineered fibers designed to trap particles and lock them beneath the surface, and the mats are also capable of absorbing up to a gallon of liquid.
These features eliminate cross-contamination by preventing dirt from being re-deposited on to shoes and tracked through the building.
With the constant strain on muscles and joints that results from standing on hard surfaces for long periods, MSDs are the number one cause of work-related injuries.
Standing for hours at a time causes a decrease in the blood supply to the lower extremities and, therefore, increases fatigue and soreness in the muscles.
MSD injuries often cause employees to suffer chronic pain, which increases employee absenteeism and causes a substantial loss in daily productivity.
Due to discomfort, employees can lose up to 25 percent of their productivity per day when standing on a hard floor for eight hours, according to OSHA.
Further, the Journal of the American Medical Association states that employers lose an estimated $61.2 billion a year due to MSDs.
Employees suffering from musculoskeletal discomfort experience rapid decreases in efficiency levels, concentration, willingness to work and attitude.
Therefore, implementing ergonomically-designed anti-fatigue mats are cost-effective solutions that make a dramatic impact.
Anti-fatigue mats are designed to decrease the stress on the feet and legs by providing a cushioning surface for people to stand on over prolonged periods of time.
Further, they are crafted with the ideal balance between shock attenuation and resilience.
Anti-fatigue mats also provide additional support by properly absorbing and returning energy, which works in combination to relieve back and leg strain for increased worker comfort.
Along with safety and comfort, mats are also a crucial component to facility-wide sustainability, which includes such factors as flooring and equipment longevity, green cleaning techniques, reduced energy and labor.
Promoting sustainability is a direct link to improving a company''s return on investment, especially since nearly 90 percent of all maintenance expenses arise from labor.
Utilizing a mat program can effectively improve sustainability with minimal effort.
For example, it only takes 500 people entering and leaving a building to generate three pounds of dirt, but it can cost up to $800 to remove just one pound of dirt from a commercial building.
With mats in place, dirt from foot traffic will be trapped within the fibers, and they should be cleaned utilizing a professional mat laundering service.
Given the dirt-locking quality of their fibers, vacuuming becomes less effective over time, collecting only 10 percent of dirt particles from floor mats.
Therefore, by laundering the mats, facilities minimize costs and laborious maintenance requirements.
Additionally, moisture tracked in from the outdoors damages hard floors and can prematurely wear carpeting, requiring excessive maintenance and premature replacement or repairs — increasing costs and labor.
Floor mats prevent dirt and moisture from accumulating on carpets or hard surfaces, which diminishes unsightly damage.
By preventing such damage from occurring, floor mats increase the lifespan of flooring, as well as significantly reduce the amount of required maintenance.
The previously mentioned two-mat system also works to enhance sustainability by improving IAQ.
Maintaining safety and sustainability continue to be two of the most influential areas of cost savings in facilities.
As expending money towards workers'' compensation claims and facility repairs continues to increase, utilizing mats will help prevent typical wear and tear, as well as eliminate common safety risks.
Facility managers will experience immediate and significant improvements with ease and little investment.
Chris Mayer is the director of facility services for AmeriPride Services Inc. For over 100 years, AmeriPride has been providing uniform and linen solutions to various industries. For more information, visit www.AmeriPride.com.