By Vince Del Rossi
Mats Help Defend Against Slips and Falls
Workplace falls can result in serious injuries and time lost on the job. The National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI) notes that “Falls account for over 8 million hospital emergency room visits, representing the leading cause of visits (21.3%). Slips and falls account for over 1 million visits, or 12% of the total falls.” Slips and falls represent the primary cause of lost days from work. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 22% of slip/fall incidents resulted in more than 31 days away from work. Statistics from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) indicate that floors and flooring materials contribute directly to more than 2 million fall injuries each year. A program with a mat vendor that can ensure use of the proper types and locations of mats, which is the best prevention precaution. Floor mats remove dirt, moisture, and other debris from foot traffic entering your building and provide a slip-resistant walking surface.
Safety Committees Can Bring Savings
While procurement officials often choose the lowest possible cost in considering bids from mat companies, choosing a safer mat program can also prove to be a cost cutter. Commercial businesses with safety committees that hold regular meetings, record meeting notes on addressing safety issues and develop and implement written programs into action plans for making safety improvements might be eligible for a discount up to 5% from their insurance carrier. Having a committee that focuses on safety when considering the budget for spending is one way that can influence the procurement of safe floor mats. By identifying the need for a consistent program that maintains mats over time, keeping the mats clean and safe will ensure within the action plan that walkway safety needs are met.
What to Look for in a Floor Mat
Properly weighted mats at entrances remove outdoor moisture from shoes and reduce trip hazards. The Standard Guide for Commercial Entrance Matting in Reducing Slips, Trips and Falls was developed by NFSI and ANSI (American National Standards Institute) and is called ANSI/NFSI B101.6-2012.
Mats should have slip-resistant rubber backing preventing them from moving across the floor. Mats tested and approved by NFSI have labels on their backs indicating a high level of slip resistance. Mats should be smooth and lie flat. If they don’t remain in this position, they need to be secured to the flooring. Torn, curled, bent or otherwise damaged mats should be replaced immediately. Floor mats exceeding ¼” thickness should have their edges beveled to prevent possible tripping hazards. The slope of the bevel should not be exceed 1:2 and the color should contrast with the floor for easy visibility.
Where Should Floor Mats Be Placed?
The obvious place for a floor mat is by the entrances and exits of your building, which are high-traffic areas. Mats are also needed in areas where floors can be wet including drink dispensers, ice machines, sinks, and dishwashing areas. Mats are also used in hallways where there may be heavy foot traffic.
Using Texture, Shoes as Extra Precautions
Overly smooth surfaces can lead to slips. The use of abrasive strips can make a big difference in prevention. Comfortable shoes with soles that grip the surface of the floor increase safety and the ability to navigate any potential workplace hazards.
Keeping a Mat Clean Keeps It Safe
Establishing a program for regular maintenance is another good preventative measure. Cleaning a mat not only keeps the mat free of dirt, grime, and moisture but it also keeps the mat in shape.
Avoiding Clutter Goes a Long Way
Clutter, tangled cords or even inadequate lighting can lead to slipping or tripping. Unexpected items in someone’s path or the inability to see them are common causes for accidents. Not seeing potential hazards can be the biggest hazard of all. A clutter-free workplace is a decidedly safer one. Obscured or hidden clutter causes accidents. A good idea is staying ahead of the curve. Develop a system of filing that prevents clutter build-up. Plugs and extension cords should be kept neat and all cables should be secured. Cord organizers to bundle cords can help keep conditions safer.
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Vince Del Rossi is the owner and president of Health Mats, a walkway safety solutions company based in Chester. Health Mats has 49 years of experience serving commercial properties large and small throughout Greater Philadelphia. Its business development team works together to provide a comprehensive solution that includes floor matting and facility products and services for your buildings.