When you ask yourself “What are mats for?” a few things probably come to mind. You might be thinking that mats keep floors clean by wiping shoes of debris, that they are for safety, and for preventing slips, trips, and falls. You may also be thinking that they enhance the appearance of facilities or even serve an advertising purpose. These are all correct; however, there is a moisture-control aspect that may be overlooked.
Dust, Moisture, and Transitional Hazards
All floors get both dirty and wet. Dust, metal and wood shavings, sand, and soil are all considered dust hazards when on the floor. These materials on the floor can cause an unclean appearance that turn customers away. More importantly, these materials can create an unsecure layer of debris that increases the risk of slip-and-fall accidents.
Water, humidity, grease and oil, coolants, blood, and food/produce spills are moisture hazards. Like dust hazards, these liquid-based materials cause an unclean appearance and track visible filth throughout a facility. The risk of slip-and-fall accidents is increased because these liquid-based materials naturally reduce friction. An overlooked moisture hazard is the growth and spread of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Constant moisture fosters this growth, which creates unhealthy environments and unpleasant odors.
Transitional hazards are any variations between walking surfaces. Raised door frames, steps, slopes, ramps, skids, flooring “A” to flooring “B”, and objects on floors are all transitional hazards.
Examples of Moisture Hazards
Mother nature gives us, and our floors, a variety of wet weather conditions in which to attend. Morning dew, rain, hail, sleet, snow, and ice need to be dealt with before employees or customers enter an establishment.
Common-use areas like cafeterias, break rooms, restrooms, gyms, and locker rooms are obvious areas where water will be a hazard on the floor. Drinking fountains, sinks, and hand-drying stations will always have water around them. Some toilets and showers splash water onto the floor. Showers also have slipping hazards in the bathing area.
Grocery stores have several locations where moisture control is fitting. Produce is kept fresh with regular misting that will unavoidably make its way to the floor. Produce also falls and gets stepped on. Frozen goods drop ice to the floor when they are placed in carts. Meat and seafood departments, delis, cafés, and sample stations constantly have food and water on the floor. Floral departments store plants in water that drip to the floor during the selection process.
Manufacturing plants and mechanic shops have similar moisture control concerns. Boilers, cooling systems, water-driven equipment, and associated piping will steam, leak, and drain. Cleaning stations for equipment and employees have risks in the transition between wet and dry areas. Grease and oil makes its way to the floor directly from machines and from the process of maintaining or repairing them.
Medical facilities will have an emphasized concern for moisture hazards. Limited patient mobility, and the required mobility assistance, increase the severity and likelihood of a moisture related fall. Cleanliness is necessary for the health of patients with weakened immune systems and sanitation required for operating rooms. Emergency and operating rooms also have blood as a common slip hazard.
Food processing facilities and kitchens deal with mixed-liquid moisture hazards. Processing facilities, seafood markets, and butcher shops must safely manage a mixture of water and cleaning chemicals. Kitchen grills, fryers, service lines, prep and wash stations, ice machines, and walk-in refrigerators/freezers continually have a mixture of cooked and uncooked food, grease, water, and cleaning chemicals on the floor.
Using the right mat for each of these examples will ensure the safety of employees and customers. Mountville Mills offers a variety of mats with the features needed to provide this safety.
The Waterhog Plus™ is a heavy-weight mat with raised nubs and a water-dam border that keeps feet above the moisture and liquids from spreading. Perfect for all indoor and outdoor entrances, including those with cart and buggy traffic.
The Sure Stride™ adhesive-backed mat has features that create a superior level of moisture control … an absorbent surface, a moisture barrier, low-profile matting, and unlimited custom placement opportunities. The Sure Stride Plush™ also features anti-microbial treatment for added protection. This rolled-goods mat is multi-functional and is great for use in grocery stores, manufacturing facilities, and medical facilities where custom-sized runners are ideal.
The Wet Step™ is an anti-microbial mat with anti-fatigue properties, designed with wet feet in mind. We recommend placing this mat in bathing and sauna areas as well as drying areas like locker rooms, health clubs, and any place where bare feet and water exist.
Launderable Restroom Service mats and the disposable Clean Shield™ mat are anti-microbial treated and purposefully designed to fit properly around toilets, urinals, and sinks.
The Comfort Flow™ is a slip-resistant, anti-microbial, and anti-fatigue mat with flow-through holes for all areas with high volumes of water, grease, oil, and even blood. Because all food processing facilities and kitchens can utilize this mat, it is commonly referred to as “The Ultimate Kitchen Mat.”
Moisture control is not limited to the mats described in this section. Image, logo, message, standard, traditional, and scraper mats can be used for moisture control. Facilities and mats that are properly maintained, serve as vital components of safety programs. We would be glad to provide you with more information on this topic or help you determine which mats will fit your needs.
Jordan Striblin, Mountville Mills, Inc.