High traffic areas add extra challenges to the cleaning process in any type or size building. Every facility has some areas that need special attention. In your building it could include one or more of the following area; stairways, lobbies, throughways, entrance and exists and primary and secondary hallways, restrooms, cafeterias, elevators and excessively busy and soiled work and manufacturing areas. Sounds like the entire building and some cases it is. These areas are where high levels of soil are tracked into a building and if not removed result in soiling and aggressive wear of surfaces and finishes.
What Works in High Traffic Areas:
When planning tasks and scheduling service in high traffic areas, here are a few tips to help you get the job done quickly and safely:
Capture soil at entrances and exits with 12- 15 ft. of matting, regular vacuuming and frequent dust and damp mopping of hard surface floor with in 25 ft. of entrances and exits. Protect hard floors with additional matting during inclement weather.
Be flexible, it’s not about what’s easy or convenient for you or your staff. Altering or staggering start times, the use of part time staff and independent contractors will generally give you most flexibility in quickly responding to changing needs for service.
Provide Training and Practice:
If you want employees to complete tasks in a specific manner, you must provide adequate and ongoing training so they understand and can perform their assigned tasks as you want them done.
One of the keys to effective training is having workers complete actual work/mock assignments as a part of a monthly 10 – 15 minute, interactive and closely supervised training session.
Look Back and Forward
Look at and collect historical data as a reference as to what and when needs changed in the past in various areas of your facility. You will find consistencies and similarities over a period of years that can give you a place to start when planning future service schedules,
Pick the Best Time:
Schedule tasks when areas are closed or traffic/use is at its lowest. If you must service areas when occupied, look at the possibility of closing down or sectioning off small sections of the area stairs or hall. Consider closing off ½ or 1/3 of an area until all of the area has been completed. Use physical barricades or barriers to reroute traffic. You can use yellow or red caution tape, or other barricade devices to make it obvious to those in the area, that a specific part of an otherwise open are is actually closed and off limits. Wet sign alone are not adequate for this purpose. One approach is to connect caution tape between signs, cones, chairs and stationary objects. Even when tape or barricades is used, don’t leave high risk areas unattended, there may be someone who doesn’t think that “staying out of the area applies to them”. Be willing and ready to verbally remind a “Tape Jumper “that the taped off area is unsafe to be in and is closed and they need to exit the carefully exit the area immediately. Be polite, professional and helpful by suggesting an alternative route and letting them know when the closed area will again be safe for entry.
More Frequent Service:
To keep high traffic area in good shape, it may be necessary to increase the service frequency in order to maintain acceptable levels of quality, health, safety and appearance. Certain days of the month and times of the day are known as being high traffic periods. Times of bad weather, specifically wind, snow and rain can immediately alter floor care need in a building.
Limit the Water:
Use a minimum amount of water, chemicals, equipment and staff needed to get the job done properly. Many times, the way we go about our work is part of the problem. Before you get out a mop, pail and wringer, ask yourself, can I use a spray bottle and flat mop instead and get acceptable results? Be careful that you don’t overdo the task. Hoses, handles and electric cords running across or even along high traffic areas is a slip and fall accident looking for a place to happen. Make sure there is good lighting and signage so people can clearly see and read about what’s going on in the area. Learn to think about and see potential risks before they are created, and then be willing to take immediate steps to reduce or eliminate the potential risk.
Speed Up Drying:
Use quick dry finish and cleaners and don’t over apply solutions. Keep an eye on interior and exterior humidity and temperature, if possible plan floor care task when the temperature is between 60 – 75 degrees and the Rh (relative humidity) is 45 – 55%. Use fans and air movers to reduce drying times. Allow for the self-leveling of liquids before beginning the speed drying process. In extreme cases, when fast turnaround is required, support drying by adding a dehumidifier to small confined spaces.
The trend today is to use fewer, greener or where practical, no chemicals in the floor care process. Some facilities have replaced their basic cleaning chemicals with engineered water that has been oxygenated, ionized or enhanced to give it cleaning, and sanitizing or disinfection capabilities.
Both large and small equipment use for floor care is changing. The broom and trusty string mop, along with the pail and wringer are fast becoming outdated, being replaced my bucketless micro fiber flat mopping systems and spray and vacuum processes that do a much more through job of soil and contamination removal and containment. We are on the verges of seeing self-cleaning surfaces; robotics and digital linkage begin having a major impact on the cleaning industry.
Stay aware of what’s going on in the cleaning industry. To remain competitive, both personally and or in business, you must keep up changes taking place in the workplace, this includes keeping up with emerging trends, products and surfaces. If you fail to do this, in the future your opportunities for advancement and income will be limited.
Everything is Changing:
Everything is in flux, new surfaces, new products, new procedures; even the people doing the work are in transition from an older to a younger workforce and management team.
It used to be that we would see and treat all flooring areas of the same type the same. We now know that different areas within a building have different soil, traffic and service needs. The most effective way to maintain each area is based on the specific needs of the area vs only taking into consideration the type of floor covering, when putting together cleaning, maintenance and restoration schedules. This is often referred to as Micro vs. Macro scheduling, which supports a growing interest in green and sustainable cleaning by certain industry segments and regional areas of the country.
Although a variety of different types of flooring materials may be found in a building, all floor care procedures fall into one or more of the following four categories:
- Initial: First time cleaning.
- Daily/Routine: Light preventive cleaning tasks that are repeated fairly frequently, but not every time the areas is serviced.
- Periodic: Less frequent light to medium cleaning tasks that remove soil and protect surfaces from due to soil abrasion, wear or staining.
- Restoration: More heavy duty, infrequent tasks that remove nearly all of the soil and or finish from the actual floor covering, while restoring the surfaces to a like new condition (or as close as possible to like new condition).
If you are involved in the cleaning or maintenance of a facility, you need to make sure that high traffic areas receive adequate service frequencies to assure that the required levels of care is provided on a consistent basis.
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Different Areas, Different Needs, Here’s a few of them.
Education: Concentrated times, days and months when traffic will be especially high.
Health Care: Appearance, sanitation, noise and odors are a concern.
Retail Outlets: Appearance along with slip, trip and fall risks are of special concern.
Convenience Stores: 3 to 5 AA is the service window in 24 hour locations
Industry: Expect to find special types of soils and consistent periods of high traffic in specific locations of the building.
Day Cleaning: Floor care is often scheduled during extended AM and PM hours, or weekends and holidays when service will not interfere with operations. Noise and odors are a consideration.
Commercial Offices: Evenings, late night, holidays and wk-ends as the best times to do floor care.
Airports: Constant policing and low moisture cleaning are important on day and evening shifts; heavier floor care is done on 2nd or 3rd shift. Access due to security concerns will slow down some projects.
Military Bases, Court Houses and Consulates: Security is number 1, expect delays and observation.