Hard floor maintenance

Tennant Australia Pty Ltd
By Chris Koeppel
Monday, 06 March, 2006

At first blush, a hard floor surface seems safe enough. But get the floor wet or fail to remove all the soapy residue from the floor after cleaning, and suddenly a hard floor surface is inherently dangerous. In fact, according to the National Safety Council, more than eight million people end up in the emergency room every year as a result of accidental falls at a cost to industry of more than $60 million. While the majority of falls take place at home, more than three million occur in a place of business - a restaurant, a hotel, a school, even a medical facility.

"In order to prevent slips and falls, a business has to have some form of a strategy that deals with the cleaning and maintenance of its floor. It simply cannot put the responsibility on customers or employees by suggesting they watch where they're walking," said Russ Kendzior, founder of the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI), an organisation that has developed a universal standard for floor safety.

For facility managers, such a strategy should include assessing both the cleaning process and the tools used to implement that process.

Evaluating the cleaning process

A typical hard floor maintenance program consists of daily dust mopping, regularly applying a cleaning solution with some form of agitation, and, maybe, polishing the floor to make it look shiny and clean. The process is pretty much tried and true - and there isn't a need to change it as long as it's implemented consistently and effectively.

Consistent cleaning is important because a dirty floor is a potentially unsafe floor with its dirt, sand and other debris affecting floor friction. Effective cleaning is equally important. Using a dirty mop and a bucket of dirty water that at one point had detergent in it really doesn't qualify as effectively applying a cleaning solution with some form of agitation. Not only will the floor remain dirty, but it will likely remain wet and slippery - and unsafe.

The good news is that today it's easier than ever to implement an effective hard floor cleaning process thanks to a growing movement toward automation and technology. Many maintenance programs - because of the tools used to implement them - not only clean the floor but extend the life of that floor and increase safety for those who clean and use the floor.

There are any number of tools that can be used to implement a hard floor maintenance program. And while none are right or wrong (well, perhaps with the exception of the dirty old mop), to stay focused on safety, facility managers might want to pay special attention to four key floor maintenance tools: foam, automated dispensing systems, hygienic recovery tanks, and automated foam scrubbing systems.

One of the latest advancements to emerge in the area of hard floor cleaning is the use of foam as opposed to liquid detergent. Foam - created by injecting air into a water and detergent mixture - dramatically reduces the amount of water used to create the cleaning solution. Because less water is used foam is less slippery than traditional cleaning agents. And with less water and no messy detergent, foam also won't migrate or spatter. As a result, foam is, by its very nature, a safer choice for obtaining cleaner and drier floors.

Automated chemical dilution and proportioning systems weed out less effective and less safe dispensing methods. Because they ensure that the proper amount of chemical is used on the floor, automated dispensing systems prevent those sticky or slippery floors that too much detergent can cause. In addition to creating a safer floor surface, automated dispensing systems provide for safer chemical handling by equipment operators as those operators no longer need to come in contact with the chemical.

Hygienic tanks allow users to quickly and easily access and sanitise the recovery and solution tanks on automated scrubbers. Cleaning the recovery tanks eliminates mould, bacteria and other contaminants that can grow in enclosed tanks. Not only is a facility's hygiene greatly improved, but the water being used is cleaner - and safer.

There is a system available to facility managers today that marries automated chemical dispensing with the use of a foam cleansing agent. The patented cleaning system integrates foam technology with scrubbing automation.

Through an onboard chemical dispensing system, the exact and appropriate amount of pre-measured chemical-to-water dilution is dispensed. Air is injected into the solution to create foam, and the automated scrubber delivers the foam to the floor surface. Because it uses less water and less detergent than conventional automated cleaning systems, the system provides a floor that is both cleaner and safer.

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