In addition to chemicals and equipment, matting is essential for preventing slips, trips and falls in healthcare facilities.

A proper mat program should start at each entrance to the building, not just the front lobby. Mats placed there can dress up the lobby, but they will also help keep dirt, water and foreign debris from getting tracked into the facility. The more contaminants that get trapped at each outdoor entrance, the less risk there is for slip-and-fall accidents. Both dry soils and wet contaminants can cause slips and falls so using the proper types of mats are vitally important.

Both an outdoor mat and an inside mat are recommended at entryways. A scraper mat outside removes large amounts of dirt and debris from shoes, while the inside wiper mat provides added protection from contaminants by catching additional soils and water before they are tracked within the facility. This mat combination helps keep entry floors cleaner, reducing both labor and chemical costs.

However, the wrong choice of mats, along with an improper maintenance program, can increase the risk of slips, trips and falls. To reduce potential accidents, make sure mats remain flat. Rippled or buckled mats should be removed immediately as they pose a trip hazard, especially in a healthcare setting.

Remember that many visitors and patients in hospitals and other healthcare facilities are seniors and more vulnerable to trip hazards. It is also crucial that mats are not allowed to “migrate” from their initial location. Migrating mats have a tendency to bunch up against doors, door sills or walls, creating additional trip hazards.
To prevent buckling and rippling, distributors should recommend the highest quality rubber-backed mats possible and those certified “High Traction” by the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI). The institute can test and certify whole mats, or just the mat backing to ensure that they stay put. Mats that wear the NFSI label have been tested for traction and are a safe bet for facilities managers looking to prevent slips, trips and falls associated with floor mats.

Healthcare facilities should have written policies concerning mat type and placement. The recently published ANSI B101.6-2012 mat standard can be used as a template for a mat program that will protect pedestrians accessing their facilities.

Brent Johnson is the chief auditor for Traction Auditing LLC, the chairman of the ANSI B101.0 Walkway Surface Auditing Procedure for the Measurement of Walkway Slip Resistance subcommittee, and an instructor for the National Floor Safety Institute.

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