Case Study: Floor Mats Reduce Maintenance and Improve Safety
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July 15, 2021 – Contact the FacilitiesNet editorial staff »
Mount St. Mary’s University is tucked away just below the Mason-Dixon Line in the countryside of Emmitsburg, Maryland. Don’t be fooled by the humble hilly mountain. It is a small school with far-reaching facilities and ambitions.
Almost 70 percent of the university’s students live on the 1,400-acre main campus. More than 70 student groups meet and organize events on a regular basis. Track and field is an important part of Mt. St. Mary’s University experience, attracting thousands of fans each year. It is even a tourist destination, home to the second largest Catholic seminary in the country and a national shrine.
Keeping the campus clean for tour groups, tidying up after a student group fundraiser, and ensuring students, staff, and visitors are safe in inclement weather all create an imperative mission for the department dedicated to the public safety of the university. It also means that the safety and cleanliness of entrances and aisles is one of the most important tasks of the maintenance team.
With so much responsibility, the team is always on the lookout for new ideas and new processes to improve the safety and appearance of the campus.
The problem beneath their feet
The maintenance team have identified potential slip, trip, and fall hazards at most campus entrances. Students, staff and visitors are constantly entering and exiting the 26 campus buildings, often looking for rainwater, snow, leaves and dirt. Take into account that students are chatting, rushing to class, or checking their phones, and this creates a difficult environment to ensure each aisle is free of hazards that could lead to a slip or fall.
The university’s most common solution was rubber-backed floor mats, which were placed at the entrances of dining halls, dormitories, common areas, sports halls, chapel, administrative buildings – the list is long. However, instead of providing a safe walking surface by absorbing moisture and removing dirt from shoes, rugs caused new problems:
- Rubber backed mats have become tripping hazards due to their design. The thick, raised lip can easily flip over on itself or fold back if hit.
- The constant foot traffic has moved the carpets. This created unprotected walkways and additional tripping hazards caused by uneven surfaces going from carpet to carpet.
- Standard 3 x 5 foot rubber-backed mats do not provide adequate coverage to ensure shoes are dry and clean before moving from the entrance mat to the floor surface. To achieve sufficient exit, the maintenance crew should assemble several mats to ensure sufficient exit coverage.
A single solution for several problems
In active search for a better solution, Mount St. Mary’s found the PIG Grippy Mat. The key attribute of the product was in the name – Grippy Mat literally sticks to the floor using an adhesive backing. This feature, combined with its discreet and customizable designs, made an instant difference across campus.
The main improvements:
- Safer Entrances and Corridors: Grippy Mat’s adhesive backing and low profile solves tripping hazards and lack of coverage in halls and building entrances. These areas were problematic due to the surface change from the outside to the inside, shoes tracking moisture, dirt and debris, and even subtle height differences between surfaces. Once installed, the mats adhere firmly to the floor. No more lifting, regrouping or moving. Students and visitors can walk in regardless of where they are walking.
- Improved Safety: Students frequently used rubber backed mats to support open doors for a number of reasons – letting friends into dorms or events, moving house, shopping for groceries, etc. This entailed potential security risks. Because Grippy Mat has an adhesive backing and is less bulky, students cannot use them to hold doors open.
- Consistent Look / Aesthetic In addition to safety, the maintenance team want every installation to be aesthetically appealing – and the old rubber backed mats just looked ugly. Things like constantly twisted rugs or mixed and mismatched carpet colors would stand out in all the wrong ways. But Grippy Mat’s subtle aesthetic enhancements made all the difference, creating a consistent, neat look in every building on campus. Not only do they stay where staff put them, but they look great as they can be customized to fit unique layouts.
- Low Maintenance: In terms of maintenance, cleaning the rubber-backed carpets was a physical drain and a potential hazard to personnel. Each time the carpets were cleaned, they had to be rolled up and moved. Some weighed hundreds of pounds when wet, requiring multiple staff to move them. In addition, special chemicals and processes were required to clean rubber-backed carpets. Now, thanks to Grippy Mat’s adhesive backing and low profile, staff can easily vacuum or scrub floors and carpets at the same time.
The move to Grippy Mat nearly eliminated the slip and fall incidents at Mount St. Mary’s. It also created more attractive facilities, reduced product costs, and saved time, money and labor.
The mission of maintaining and improving the campus is never over for the Mount St. Mary’s maintenance team. But with the addition of Grippy Mat to their safety program, they can now focus on the problems that lie ahead, not the ones under their feet.