Rent and buy signpost

Advice to managers looking to re-evaluate existing matting programs

According to the National Safety Council, there is a 1 in 119 chance that a person will die from falling. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a 25 percent increase in fatal work injuries from slips, trips and falls between 2011 and 2016. With stats like this, it should come as no surprise that these accidental incidents are now the No. 3 cause of death in the United States.

In facilities, falls traditionally occur as a result of slippery or sticky floors, or the occasional trip hazard. In addition to a comprehensive floor care program, facility cleaning professionals should implement proper matting in an effort to increase floor safety.

To ensure matting programs help reduce accidents, Facility Cleaning Decisions asked manufacturers to weigh in on when managers should reevaluate their programs and outline any benefits to renting versus owning mats. Here are their responses.

How often should cleaning managers reevaluate their matting programs?

This is a moving target. Managers should keep current on new developments that could result in safer floors and keep an open mind regarding adopting new best practices. For example, when adhesive-backed absorbent mats were introduced, that was a real game changer. It changed the way many professionals think about floor safety.
Also, managers need to track and keep accurate data on incidences of slips, trips and falls. If they see trends moving in the wrong direction, it’s time for a change. At a minimum, an evaluation of the efficacy of the current floor safety program should be done at least twice per year.
— Dan Silver, Vice President of Product Development, New Pig

I think it is important for cleaning managers to create a written audit to review their entry matting. The goal is to ensure that the matting is safe and effective. Are the mats in the right location (direct walk pattern)? Are the mats safe (no curled edging, no gaps)? Matting is designed to be a safety solution to minimize the risk of trips and falls. Should someone fall and legal action is the result, your legal team will want you to have a written journal that an ongoing analysis has be documented.
— Mitchell Saltzman, President, Proform

When reevaluating a matting program, purchasing decisions should be based on the level of traffic the facility receives on an ongoing basis, and whether that warrants a different type of mat.
For example, if there’s an increase in traffic, cleaning managers should make sure they are using an outdoor matting system that effectively traps debris before it is tracked inside. A heavy-duty mat should also be used to help preserve the aesthetics of a facility’s floors.
— Rochelle Quandt, Market Development Manager, 3M Commercial Solutions

When properly maintained, quality matting that is appropriate for the amount and type of foot traffic should last at least 3 years, and often even longer. There are signs that suggest existing mats need replacing, it is not the right type of matting, it is does not appropriately cover the traffic pattern, there is not enough linear feet of matting coming into the building, or some combination of the above.
Here are a few signs that the entrance matting program is not as effective as it could be:
1.  Moisture and/or dirt are being tracked in beyond the entrance matting. Posting wet floor signs may protect against liability, but it doesn’t prevent the slips and falls, or the additional maintenance required to keep interior floors clean.
2.  Mats look dreadful, even after they are deep cleaned according to the manufacturer’s maintenance instructions. The appearance of a building can create a perception about the quality of products or services that are provided. The matting material may still be doing a good job functionally, but if it’s not projecting the right image, it’s a good idea to put a new one in place.
3.  You can see backing material where fiber used to be, or the matting shows clear wear patterns or discoloration. Hurry, don’t delay, it is clearly time to replace your matting.
4.  More frequent interior floor cleaning is required. With the majority of dirt and debris being tracked into the building on the bottoms of shoes, if increased maintenance is required to keep interiors clean, it likely means that something is not quite right at the entrance.
5.  Multiple, standard-sized mats are being used and they are clearly the wrong sizes and shapes for the space.
— JoAnn Durette, Vice President of Marketing, Mats, Inc.

What are the benefits of owning versus renting matting systems?

My recommendation for facility managers is to purchase and own a matting system instead of renting, but there are pros and cons to both options. A benefit to renting a matting system is the “no thought about it” aspect. When renting, the rental company comes every week or month to swap the mat out with a new one, ultimately simplifying the overall process.
Disadvantages associated with renting are the monthly fee, as well as the overall quality of the mat. Since rental mats are changed frequently, they are often thinner and have a tendency to flip or wrinkle, introducing trip hazards and potentially significant liabilities for facility owners. In addition, with automated maintenance, the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality can also be a disadvantage. If the cleaning crew isn’t mindful of mat conditions, they can easily become clogged, rolled-up and unsafe.
Purchased mats are typically much more effective at reducing dirt and debris from facilities, helping to reduce facility maintenance costs, protecting floors from sand and dirt damage, and enhancing the overall image of the facility. Despite the upfront cost associated with mat ownership, facility cleaning managers can experience a quick return on investment as the mats typically last three to five years and reduce the overall cost of maintenance.
— Rochelle Quandt, Market Development Manager, 3M Commercial Solutions

Owning your own mats means you have control over where they are placed in your facility, so you control your safety program rather than outsource it to someone that might not have the time, knowledge or motivation to be fully engaged. It also means you can be more “gentle” when cleaning the mats and avoid distressing and wearing them out. Finally, owning your mats enables you to avoid extra fees and surcharges that always seem to pop up in rental laundering programs.
The key benefit of renting is convenience. It’s someone else’s job to lay them down, pick them up and clean them. This might be attractive to your staff that would have to do that maintenance work if it wasn’t contracted out to a rental laundering company.
— Dan Silver, Vice President of Product Development, New Pig

The benefit of owning is that the matting you purchase is based upon the function, sizing and shape that meets your needs. Rental matting sizing and shape is based upon its ability to fit in a laundry machine. The main benefit of renting is you don’t have to clean the mats.
— Mitchell Saltzman, President, Proform

next page of this article:
Choosing Mats Based On Floor Type And Seasonality