Risk Management: Foodservice Flooring

Failure to properly care for a restaurant's floor can create a high-risk environment and increase liability concerns for the foodservice operation.

Flooring concerns in existing kitchens is vast and furious. Vast, because there are so many combinations and permutations of flooring conditions mixed with building construction, weather and operation modalities. Furious, because there aren't often easy repair solutions to fix old or improperly installed floors. Often repairs require kitchen shut downs, which don't appear to help the bottom line, and are viewed as futile with temporary results at best.

It is important to recognize and document the problem, perform adequate research with qualified service personnel, and repair damaged floors in a reasonable time period. Kitchen staff will appreciate the diligence and the operation will avoid unnecessary slip and falls, and very risky injuries and time off work.

Floor deterioration can sometimes be avoided with adequate floor maintenance and treatment. New floors should be adequately sealed or treated per manufacturer's guidelines, which will assist with cleaning and grease penetration over many years. Proper and regularly scheduled cleaning procedures must be well documented and managed, and will lengthen the life of floor surfaces.

Often overlooked, due to cost, are pressurized floor cleaning sprayers. These units will save labor, water and your floor system if used on a regular basis, and will yield great return on investment dollars for your operation. If an existing floor is highly degraded, a pressure washing system may add to the deterioration, as the water pressure may affect grout and/or floor lifting and destruction. I support pressure washing systems in most applications and would advise sufficient research prior to purchasing this product.

Dining room flooring is easier to deal with as it is generally not exposed to the harsh environmental conditions as is the case in a kitchen. However dining patrons are not familiar with an establishment's floor conditions and problems, making them susceptible to tripping and falling. Liability is huge for the operation and creates bad will in a public environment. Areas to inventory include transition strips (hard to soft surface areas), stair markers, decorative areas that may seem cute but pose high risk hazards, raised floor surfaces and loose tiles and/or frayed and raised carpet areas. Often cleaning and maintenance is left to inexperienced janitorial personal without regard to manufacturer's guidelines, creating additional and unnecessary problems and expense.

Inspect dining areas carefully and regularly, and deal with problems swiftly. Of course regular maintenance and cleaning are imperative to maintain flooring life and safety for dining customers and staff. Use of manufacturer's maintenance and care guidelines along with properly trained staff will increase the life of flooring and reduce injury risks as well.

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