By Tom Neu
From the December 2017 Issue
As more organizations across various industries are increasingly aware of the impact that their physical facilities have on overall success, facility management executives are tasked with not only providing the best products and services but also showcasing a building’s features in a safe, aesthetically pleasing environment. Often, poor cleanliness can cause irreparable harm to a facility’s reputation. However, it’s not only untidy restrooms and outdated interiors that can negatively impact occupant perceptions. The quality and appearance of the floor—one of the first things encountered upon entering a building—is often a key contributor to one’s impression of the organization.
As such, it’s important for facility executives to develop a comprehensive floor care strategy that enhances a building’s appearance while simultaneously providing important safety benefits. As a first step, management should conduct safety audits on a regular basis to inform important decisions when developing a floor care plan. During the audit, facility executives should consider the following aspects.
- Current Floor Conditions. Observe if and where floor tiles, matting, and slip-resistant treads are worn.
- Past Safety Incidences. Note when and where throughout the facility slips, trips, and falls have been reported.
- Maintenance Records. Determine what areas require maintenance, and discuss if current products and processes are the most effective options to repair damage.
- Matting Programs. Confirm the correct matting program is being used in appropriate locations to ensure the safety of all occupants. This includes entrance mats and other appropriate areas in the facility.
After the audit and during the product selection phase of the floor care plan, facility executives should first consider the long-term investment as opposed to only product cost. For example, incorporating a floor protection system approach extends a facility’s maintenance cycle for these surfaces and reduces the long-term costs of both product and labor. These types of systems might include: cleaning chemicals, sweepers/mops, and floor protection finishes.
Second, facility executives should research the productivity that is required to maintain a floor care program to reach a desired aesthetic. As labor prices continue to increase, it’s important to implement the most effective and efficient product system available to avoid any unnecessary costs.
Lastly, it’s important to consider the overall safety of both all occupants and cleaning staff during the product selection process. Consider products and systems that are certified by the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI) as providing high traction.
Once the product plan is in place, the overall strategies and processes used by the cleaning team should be reviewed in-depth. As cleaning is an evolving and ongoing activity, best results are achieved through a comprehensive strategy that gives equal consideration to immediate and long-term care variables.
Immediate Floor Care Considerations
Regardless of material, most floor surfaces require maintenance on a daily and weekly basis to ensure a safe walking space and the desired appearance.
When cleaning with chemicals, it’s crucial to make sure the right chemical solution is accurately diluted to optimize performance and to ensure the floor surface is not damaged. A chemical management system is a cost-effective option for facility executives who use a variety of products or manage multiple spaces. Chemical management systems can also reduce waste and labor costs.
Dusting tools and materials are another important consideration when implementing a holistic floor care strategy. However, before using any dusting products, facility executives need to first determine the right product for the job. Dusting materials that trap dirt, dust, and hair are ideal versus products that simply move dust around. Experts recommend dusting higher surfaces first and then working down to the floor to avoid missing areas. Dusting should also be conducted daily to eliminate dust and dirt on the floor, which would otherwise get walked on and distributed to other areas.
When utilizing floor pads, most facilities will want to clean the floors daily. In addition to using floor pads for general cleaning, burnishing the floor several times a week is recommended for a nice shine.
Long-Term Floor Care Considerations
In addition to the immediate care considerations, a good floor care strategy should include a long-term plan that focuses on a facility-specific matting and slip-resistant tread program. If not already implemented, facility executives should strongly consider the installation of entrance mats to keep dirt and debris from being brought into a facility as well as slip-resistant treads to mitigate slips, trips, and falls.
When developing a matting program, facility executives need to first determine where dirt and debris is being brought into the facility. Once the entry points are identified, consider investing in an entrance matting product that will successfully address specific weather and environmental hazards—such as dirt, water and sand—to ensure surfaces, as well as customers and employees, are protected over time.
In any environment, it’s essential to identify and implement a proactive floor care strategy that addresses both immediate and long-term care considerations. To that end, conducting a facility audit at the outset not only addresses current issues, but also identifies any potential future problems. A proactive floor care strategy can then be implemented by selecting the best products and processes for the building.
Neu is marketing & business development manager with the 3M Commercial Solutions Division
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