Building managers should work with distributors well-versed in the different types of matting systems to help prevent slip-and-fall accidents. When working with a manager, one of the first steps distributors may take is to conduct a slip-and-fall audit.
The essence of a slip-and-fall audit is to examine all building walkways, work areas, and transition areas (where a carpeted floor leads to a hard-surface floor), looking for potential hazards. With this information, the distributor and building manager can work together to determine what steps may be necessary to minimize if not eliminate the hazard.
To begin a slip-and-fall audit, typically distributors will start at the building entry and work their way throughout the facility. Among the items they will investigate are the following:
Set and Forget. Because grit, moisture, and soil can build up on mats at building entries, the distributor will want to know if the mats are cleaned and replaced regularly. Very often, companies have a “set and forget” attitude toward mats. Matting plays too vital a role in walker safety to defer maintenance.
Rental Mats. The problem with most rental mats is that their ability to capture and trap moisture and soil is minimal. As they get wet or soiled, their effectiveness can diminish further. In most cases, the distributor will suggest purchasing mats, not renting mats.
Water Fountains. Floor areas under water fountains, vending machines, and coffee areas can be surprisingly hazardous due to frequent leaks and spills. Further, this moisture can be transferred to the walker’s shoe bottoms and then spread to other locations in the facility. These areas should have “wet area” or what are called “Safewalk” mats installed. They will absorb the moisture, or it will fall below the surface of the mat, so it is not be transferred to shoe bottoms or anywhere else in the facility.
Industrial Work Areas. If this is an industrial facility, the distributor will examine work areas to see if grease, oil, dust, shavings, or liquids are found on the floor. Because safety is a considerable concern in these areas, safety measures should start from the floor up. Industrial mats help prevent slips and falls by allowing debris, liquids, and grit to fall under the walk area.
Stairways. OSHA has requirements that must be followed regarding building stairways. For instance, stairways with four or more steps must have handrails. However, handrails are not enough to ensure walker safety. Mats should be installed before stairways and on landings. This helps remove moisture and soils from shoes, keeping the stairs dry and preventing moisture and soil from being transferred to other areas of the facility.
Housekeeping. The slip-and-fall audit also involves housekeeping, which must be assessed. Housekeeping includes regular vacuuming, sweeping, damp or dust mopping. But the distributor may also look to see if a finish has been applied to the floor. A floor finish does far more than put a shine on the floor. Most floor finishes are designed with slip-resistant properties. These build up traction, helping to prevent walking accidents.
Building managers must realize that preventing slips and falls has many components, all playing a role in improving walker safety and eliminating hazards. Performing a slip-and-fall audit of your facility will help you shore up any weak links.
For more information on ways to prevent slip and fall accidents in schools and all types of facilities, contact Crown Matting Technologies at 800-628-5463 or send us an email.