When the leaves blaze the golds and reds to signal the start of fall, a good facilities manager should already be thinking of icy parking lots and snow loads. Winter weather can be a mess, both inside and out. Snow and slush can make floors slippery, and wet shoes carry more dirt and debris indoors than dry. Additionally, salt and other alternative ice melting techniques can damage or stain floors, and all sorts of mess can be dragged in by the relentless winter wind.
In general, winter can be a mess. So it’s really no wonder why facilities and maintenance professionals scramble once the leaves turn and the weather gets chilly. Luck favors the prepared, and facilities managers always need to be prepared for anything. The best way to get prepared and combat the winter mess is through a three-pronged attack.
Safety is first and foremost. Slips and falls can be very serious; these accidents account for 23% of workplace injuries. Nearly 700 workers lost their lives to slips, trips and falls in 2013. Even outside the workplace and in public sector facilities, commercial and healthcare settings, slips and falls are single most preventable form of loss. The best to prevent potential injuries is by paying close attention to any snow or water buildup around entrances or common walkways, and to consider installing slip-resistant mats or walkways in problem areas. If this is too large a task for your business, consider looking into regular flooring maintenance.
Maintenance is the next consideration.The most common ice melting salts are corrosive, such as sodium chloride, magnesium chloride and calcium chloride. The same compounds that accelerate rust on your car can inflict real damage on floors. Even “non-corrosive” de-icing products can cause damage. Protecting floors from the damaging effects of de-icing compounds should be the first line of defense. An accelerated floor cleaning schedule will pick up harmful residue before it can do major damage.
General cleaning for appearance is the final step in keeping the winter from ruining floors, as wet and windy weather swirls all sorts of debris indoors. Some municipalities use a mixture of salt and sand to provide traction on slippery roads. Anyone who’s been to the beach knows the combination of salt and sand never stays where you put it; it tracks everywhere. Making sure that winter doesn’t dump its trash inside starts with catching debris at the door and vacuuming or sweeping regularly to guarantee it doesn’t travel any farther.
Fortunately, there are some simple ways to prepare ahead of time and make sure winter doesn’t get the upper hand:
- Clear the way. Be proactive about getting snow off walkways, parking lots and drives. Plowing and shoveling should begin when the snow starts and be on-going as the storm progresses. Do not assume that simply shoveling snow has cleared the walkways enough to make traveling safe. Typically, sun-warmed surfaces form a dangerous layer of thin iceunder the first layer of snow. Don’t save ice melt for a major weather event; a light daytime dusting of snow can melt and refreeze over the course of a day creating hazardous, slippery conditions by nightfall. George D. Lutz, quality assurance technical services manager for Cargill observes, “Good snow and ice control is definitely a large part of slip-and-fall prevention.”
- Cover up with anti-slip coating, resilient flooring, or mats. Minimize the possibility of slips and falls while capturing debris and moisture at the door with anti-slip entrance mats, or by installing resilient flooring with an anti-slip coating. Carpet-faced mats collect dirt and water and keep it from making its way onto vulnerable carpet or hardwood. Walk off carpeting is designed to accept the wetness and allows water to evaporate quickly. Ideally, a facility should have about ten feet of walk off matting to help clean people’s shoes.
- Keep it clean. When winter’s mess wanders off mats, stop it in its tracks with enhanced commercial cleaning and maintenance. An increased vacuuming schedule also creates a healthier environment and better air quality—not only removing dirt and ice melt, but capturing circulated dust trapped by heating systems.
Getting your business ready for winter ahead of time will ensure for smooth facility operation during Mother Nature’s toughest months. If you’re looking to stay ahead of the curve, schedule your commercial flooring cleaning with Commercial Flooring and Interior Concepts. If you’ve never worked with us before, you will receive $300.00 off your first cleaning as a new customer. Learn more and schedule your cleaning by clicking below!