In the United States, 849 people died of work injuries caused by slips, trips, and falls in 2016, according to the latest statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), approximately 25,000 slip, trip, and fall injuries occur daily in the Unites States. These injuries are the top cause of preventable deaths among people aged 65 to 85 and over, the NSC reports. Many factors contribute to falls, including improper floor cleaning. Establishing a formalized cleaning program can help ensure proper floor-cleaning procedures are in place.
Set Up Your Program
Facility managers who implement a cleaning program help ensure floors are cleaned regularly and in a safe manner. The program should establish cleaning schedules and contain, at a minimum, the following elements:
- Consider peak hours, traffic patterns, and weather conditions when scheduling floor cleanings
- Consider the drying time for the area being cleaned
- Use appropriate barricades to redirect pedestrians during cleaning
- Document all cleanings and regularly maintain inspection logs
- Establish written floor-cleaning procedures and update them as needed (i.e. when a new floor surface is in place, when new cleaning products are used, if the work environment has changed, if new exposures are present, etc.)
- Evaluate the written procedures periodically to ensure they are being followed and are effective.
Be sure to obtain the appropriate Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) and properly train employees on the use of personal protection equipment and application procedures. The minimum requirements for this training can be found in the HAZCOM requirements of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Don't Skimp on Training
Training employees on cleaning policies and procedures is crucial to the cleaning program's success. Employees must be aware of overall housekeeping procedures as well as specific cleaning procedures for high-hazard areas.
Consider the following factors when providing training:
- Check all areas to ensure proper drainage is in place
- Make sure all areas are highly visible
- Thoroughly clean all areas without taking shortcuts
- Check that all equipment is clean and in good condition
- Ensure that the correct equipment is used for the floor surface.
Choose Products Carefully
Test all products on a small section of the floor, prior to use, to ensure they are suitable for the floor surface. Many floor cleaning product suppliers and manufactures provide technical support to select the appropriate products for specific types of floors and needs. Test cleaning products prior to purchase to ensure quality — and to save you from buying expensive products that do not work.
Be sure to follow all manufacturer instructions on safety and application. Products from different vendors should not be mixed together, as they might not be compatible and could cause the products to not work as expected.
Provide training for using, mixing, and applying products as well as maintaining all cleaning equipment. Many product vendors provide assistance with product selection and technical training.
Check Your Equipment
All facilities need to verify they have the proper cleaning materials readily available for their operations. Rather than using the same mop throughout the entire premises, staff should separate equipment for different areas of the facility to prevent cross contamination. Equipment may need to be color-coded or marked to ensure employees use the proper equipment for designated areas.
If an area needs to be blocked off for cleaning, employees sset up signage and equipment properly. It is important that signs are highly visible and do not pose a slip, trip or fall hazard. Also use signage in conjunction with cleaning up spills and debris, not just as a deterrent.
Clean all equipment prior to use, then be sure to regularly inspectand maintain it. Provide employees with the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure they avoid contact with contaminated materials.
Follow Proper Cleaning Procedures
Follow proper cleaning procedures for dust mopping, scrubbing, stripping, and applying floor finishes. There are common elements to the cleaning process. Before each step, ensure the equipment is clean, in working order. and appropriate for the floor surface. Then block off the floor area to be cleaned.
Provide color-coded mops and buckets for each area to be cleaned. This will prevent the spread of foreign substances from one area to another and reduce the possibility that these substances will be spread in the process of cleaning a spill.
Once the cleaning process is completed, immediately clean the equipment by thoroughly washing it, allowing to dry. Then store it in the proper location.
Basic Cleaning Procedures
To effectively dust mop floors:
- Remove all debris
- Hold mop at a 45-degree angle and push mop straight ahead; do not push backwards and avoid lifting up mop
- Use a small dust mop for obstructed areas, such as an office or classroom
- When mopping, start at entrance and work from the sides to the center of room
- If furniture is easily moved, move and mop where furniture is located
- Use dustpan and broom to sweep up trash
- Once the floor is clean, brush out the dust mop with a stiff bristle brush or place the dust mop head in a plastic liner and shake it several times
- Treat dust mop at end of cleaning procedures
- Replace mop head when soiled
- Hang dust mop with yarn facing away from walls.
For floor scrubbing:
- Operate floor machine from side to side while applying solution
- Overlap on each pass to ensure that the entire floor has been covered
- Avoid bumping the baseboards and other fixed objects
- Use a hand pad and holder to scrub corners and other areas not accessible to the floor machine.
To pick up dirty solution:
- Use a wet vacuum or remove the dirty solution with the first mop
- Dip the clean mop into the clear water and rinse — using the double bucket procedure
- Wring out the wet mop frequently
- Cover the entire area to be cleaned
- Wipe off baseboards before they dry.
After the floor has dried, remove the wet floor signs and return furniture and other items to their proper positions.
Applying Floor Finish
- Applying first coat of seal:
- Pour floor finish into lined mop bucket and place a clean, non-rusty wringer into the bucket
- Immerse clean mop into the finish
- Wring out mop to eliminate dripping
- Apply a thin coat of finish to the floor
- Apply floor finish by running floor finish applicator mop parallel to and next to the baseboard
- Do not apply in vertical portions of baseboards and walls
- Work in a "U" shape around baseboards and work from outward inward
- Use additional finish, as needed, per manufacturer instructions and cover the entire floor
- Try to avoid splashing the floor finish
- Before applying another coat, allow finish to dry completely.
- Applying second coat of seal:
- Repeat the above instructions
- You may wish to avoid building up edges by keeping a few inches away from the baseboards
- Apply a thin coat of finish
- The second application should be made using a "figure 8" pattern, which reduces back fatigue
- Allow second coat to dry completely.
- Applying additional coats:
- Repeat the above instructions using the same floor finish for the next two coats and all subsequent ones
- More coats allows more protection for the floor and a better appearance
- Apply at least two coats of finish over the seal, if a high-speed burnishing program is used
- Allow floor to dry completely before opening to traffic.
- Apply stripping solution:
- Spread floor stripping solution over area with mop
- Allow solution to work on floor for recommended time — usually at least five minutes — and do not allow the stripper to dry.
- Machine scrub:
- Place floor stripping pad under floor machine
- Scrub lengthwise along the baseboards
- Strip side to side over the remaining area
- Use hand scrub pad to detail strip along the edges and in corners of the room; heel floor machine on badly soiled spots
- Do not splash stripper on walls.
- Pick up dirty solution:
- Use a wet vacuum to remove stripper solution from the floor
- Do not allow the dirty solution to dry on the floor.
- Rinse and dry floor:
- Use clean mop and clean water
- Add floor stripping neutralizer to water
- Cover area with neutralizer and rinse water
- Use wet vacuum to pick up rinse water
- Wipe baseboards before they dry.
- Damp mop the floor with clean water for the final rinse.
Developing and implementing a formal cleaning program is a crucial first step in reducing slip, trip, and fall incidents. But don't forget you still need to conduct an effective analysis of the exposures at your location. In addition, train staff to immediately report all instances of slips, trips, and falls so that managers can take actions to reduce the hazards.
Updated May 21, 2018 from an article originally posted September 19, 2010