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Same Level Fall Prevention Series Part I: The Surprising Impact of Floor Cleaning Method

- March 5, 2018 by Brian Piñon, CSP (View all posts by Brian)

When diagnosing a slip/fall problem within an organization, there are a variety of factors to look at that may be affecting the level of risk. Floor cleaning, while usually not overlooked completely, is often not given enough attention. Most assess only the frequency with which floors are swept and mopped, but completely ignore the efficiency of their cleaning process.

Let’s take a look at an example from the restaurant industry. A study published in 2008 (Quirion, Poirier & Lehane; 2008) tested the effectiveness of the cleaning procedures employed by 10 restaurant establishments. 7 out of the 10 restaurants used neutral cleaners, rather than alkaline degreasers which tend to be more efficient at removing the oils and greases commonly found on commercial kitchens floors. The three restaurants that were using the more effective degreasers were found to be over-diluting the product, reducing its efficiency at breaking down and removing targeted contaminants. And, as is unfortunately all too common in the food industry, each of the restaurants utilized a single-step mopping method. This tends to spread contaminants around the floor and leave a residue that makes any subsequent liquid spill substantially more slippery than it would be otherwise.

All 10 of the restaurants had opportunities to improve the friction of their flooring by altering their cleaning procedures. The researchers found that over-diluting a degreaser and single-step mopping quarry tile contaminated with oil, yielded a coefficient of friction of .37, making it a designated low traction surface per the ANSI/NFSI B101.1-2009 standard. Under the same conditions, two-step mopping with the degreaser mixed to the manufacturer recommended concentration produced a coefficient of .77, well above the .60 ANSI threshold for a surface to be designated as high traction.

Consider that another 2011 restaurant study (Verma, Chang, Courtney; 2011) found that for each .10 decrease in the coefficient of friction, the rate of slipping increased by 21%. A restaurant over-diluting their degreaser and single-step mopping could stand to reduce their rate of slipping by 84% from making two minor adjustments to their cleaning process!

Stay tuned for our next blog in the Same Level Fall Prevention Series, which will more comprehensively address common floor cleaning mistakes that may be detrimental to your slip/fall prevention effort.


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