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Matting 101
By Dave Mesko
MARCH 23, 2011

Consumers walk over thousands of mats in almost every public building and rarely think about them or their purpose.

Mats are everywhere — in retail stores, hospitals, restaurants and office buildings.

However, mats do much more than just offer a place for one to wipe his or her feet.

They impact your business by helping you to avoid risk, elevate image and save money.

But, to achieve these benefits, you must strategically place mats and develop a floor maintenance program.

Protect Against Slips, Trips and Falls

Floor mats on carpeted and hard floor surfaces capture dirt and contaminants before they are tracked through a facility to help keep it clean and reduce maintenance costs.

Moreover, they help keep building occupants safe from slips, trips and falls.

You never want someone to slip, trip or fall in your establishment; not only is it costly, but it also can ruin your reputation and damage your brand.

Unfortunately, slip, trip and fall accidents are a common occurrence if proper precaution is not taken.

According to the National Safety Council, more than 9 million disabling slips, trips and falls occur each year, with the average cost being more than $20,953 per claim.

A vital step to help create a slip-free environment is to implement a matting system.

The National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI) estimates that more than 80 percent of slip, trip and fall accidents take place on wet surfaces, so it is important to take preventative measures to help protect your building occupants and guests.

Identify Zones To Protect

A comprehensive mat system provides 24/7 floor protection to help ensure clean, safe floors.

The best way to identify and proactively protect all areas is to request a walk-through consultation from a qualified service provider.

Key zones to protect include:

Entrance zones

According to the Institute of Industrial Launderers, 80 percent of dirt is tracked into a building from the outside. Therefore, the essential first line of defense is to have maximum coverage at the entrance to absorb contaminants including dirt and water. Mats should be placed at the front entrance, back doors, side doors and employee entrances. To properly protect entrance zones, organizations should place scraper mats outside and carpet mats inside to serve as a dual-mat system.

High-risk zones

High-risk zones are areas with a high probability of attracting contaminants such as dirt, moisture and grease. These areas include transitional walkways such as from the bathroom to the hallway. Additional areas to consider include water fountains, ice machines, produce sections and sinks. Placing mats in high-risk zones will protect the floors from becoming slick to help eliminate slips, trips and falls.

High-traffic zones

High-traffic zones are areas with the highest foot traffic. These include hallways and areas in front of time clocks, copiers and checkout stations. Properly protecting these areas with mats will reduce wear and track patterns. It will also enhance your organization''s image and reduce housekeeping costs.

Productivity zones

Mats protect floors, but they can also improve productivity. By using the right type of matting, such as anti-fatigue mats or message mats at workstations or customer service areas, you can help reduce fatigue and improve employee morale.

Should You Rent Or Buy Mats?

When implementing a matting program, you have the option to rent or buy.

The major differences exist in the quality of mats and the service component.

Before implementing a program, it''s important to verify the mats are certified “High Traction” by the NFSI.

This guarantees that the mats possess proven slip-resistant characteristics and have passed a laboratory test and a “real world” test to help reduce slips, trips and falls.

Service is a vital element to consider when implementing a matting program.

In order for your program to be effective, contaminants such as water, dirt and grease that are captured by the mats must be removed from the facility.

By renting from a facilities services provider, your mats will be professionally cleaned on a routine basis to maximize performance.

Further, a rental program allows flexibility, giving you the option to increase service frequencies and the amount of mats during the rainy season or wintertime for more protection.

If you buy the mats, the cleaning is up to you; regular vacuuming does not clean a mat as deeply or thoroughly as a laundry service.

According to Georgia State University, only 10 percent of dirt is removed from mats with a vacuum cleaner.

If mats are not cleaned thoroughly on a regular basis, they can become saturated with contaminants that could ultimately spread across your facility and potentially create more slip, trip and fall hazards.

Maintain Floors On A Regular Basis

Beyond a matting system, you should maintain floors on a daily basis by pairing cleaning tools such as mops with the right cleaning chemicals for different floor surfaces.

By designating clean mops for specific areas, you can help prevent cross-contamination between departments.

For example, mops used to clean restroom floors should not be used to clean floors in other areas of the building.

You should also deep clean floors on a routine basis.

Deep cleaning services remove dirt, break down buildup and extract all contaminants from grout lines, tile and carpeted areas throughout the building.

Regular maintenance helps keep surfaces safe and enables organizations to extend the life of their flooring.

Clean and safe floors begin with a comprehensive matting system.

Partnering with a service provider to develop an ongoing floor maintenance program is the first step to help keep building occupants safe and provide a spotless, pleasant atmosphere.

Dave Mesko is the senior director of marketing for Cintas Corporation with more than 11 years of industry experience. Cintas Facility Services offers a wide range of solutions that enable businesses to build their image and increase profitability and productivity. For more information, please visit www.cintas.com/FacilityServices. Dave Mesko can be reached at meskod@cintas.com.

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