Keeping floors clean in the workplace is not only important for hygiene and appearance, but also for safety. According to the HSE, slips and trips are the most common accidents at work and floor cleaning is key in controlling these hazards. Here’s a guide to keeping floors clean and ensuring safety in the workplace while you do so…
The first thing to keep in mind when considering floor cleaning procedures and equipment is that people rarely slip on clean, dry floors. Most accidents happen on floors that are wet or dirty. Oil, food debris or water can all cause slips. Obstacles being left in places where people will trip is another hazard that can be avoided through good floor cleaning procedures.
Things to have in place include:
Regular risk assessments for different floor surfaces and areas in the workplace. Consider who uses them and how frequently, the kind of floor surface -- smoother surfaces are more likely to cause slips. Also consider how easy it would be for vulnerable people including vision-impaired individuals, for example, to slip or trip.
Procedures to prevent contamination and ensure regular cleaning of floors. These include effective training and supervision of staff using the areas as well as clear standards and procedures along with supervision of cleaning staff.
Using the right cleaning methods, equipment and products. Using the right cleaning equipment, and ensuring products suit the surface and usage of an area are key. In addition, safety signage to warn of wet floors is important, and purchasing staff and cleaning staff should have good communication channels.
Obstacle removal. Good housekeeping should be included in staff training for all who use the area as well as cleaning staff. Procedures should be in place to check floor areas regularly for slip and trip hazards.
Training of staff should include:
How to reduce the hazards of wet, damp and drying floors
Giving clear instructions on when to use wet floor signs and their limitations.
How to segregate wet, damp or drying floors.
Proper dilution of floor cleaning products.
Key cleaning tips for the workplace
Start by walking around the place and looking for any potential hazards. Think about the equipment, processes and working conditions that your team faces on a daily basis. For example, places where drinks are served or likely to be spilled will need to have a cleaner on hand for rapid cleaning and drying of the floor and ensuring the area is signed and segregated while it is wet.
Ensure that wet floors are always clearly marked with warning signs. This is something your team should already be doing but it can be easy to forget to do it during busy work hours
Invest in slip-resistant footwear for cleaning staff and staff who are active in higher-risk areas.
Schedule floor cleaning to less busy times when there are fewer people working.
Have the floor cleaned as the last task before leaving the workplace.
Choosing the right mops
Length and materials of the mop yarn: The longer the yarn, the more water and dirt can be absorbed within a larger surface area. Cotton tends to be less heavy-duty than other material blends, so it’s not ideal for areas with lots of dirt. Best suited to areas where there are smaller particles such as dust. Polyester yarn meanwhile is more durable but less effective at cleaning finer particles of dirt. Polycotton yarn which mixes both materials offers the best of both worlds. Polyester and Viscose Yarn is often cheaper than other materials but offers a high absorption rate.
A wider head is able to clean larger surfaces areas but may make it difficult to clean smaller corners, best chosen for areas where there is a large amount of wide floor space to clean.