How safe is your wooden floor?
Looks aren’t everything. Although we all want that gorgeous, hardwood floor that’s polished to a high sheen and truly enhances the natural beauty of the wood, ensuring that wooden floor is safe as well as beautiful is an important factor, particularly if the floor is in an area that has public access. In the home we don’t tend to think too much about how safe our floors are, but for businesses it’s crucial to ensure that an unsafe floor doesn’t compromise your duty of care to your customers and employees. So what do you need to think about when it comes to floor safety?
One of the most common reasons for an injury compensation claim is a slip, trip or fall. Human beings seem to be incredibly adept at tripping over their own two feet, and in most instances we take a tumble due to our own carelessness. But if a surface is uneven, slippery or otherwise presents a potential hazard, the onus shifts away from us clumsy bipeds and onto the person responsible for the upkeep of the floor. A polished wooden floor may look stunning, but add even the tiniest bit of liquid and you’ve got a potential skating rink on your hands. Polished wooden floors allow water to pool on the surface, so even some time after a floor has been cleaned it can still present a slipping hazard.
The most important thing to remember is that if your wooden floor is open to public access, you have to make people aware of potential hazards, as well as doing your utmost to minimise any danger of slipping or falling. Signs warning people of potential risks are easy to put up, but as always prevention is better than cure, so ensure that anyone responsible for cleaning wooden floors in public areas does so in such a way as to avoid leaving excessive liquid on the surface.
With older wooden floors, the danger of injury can come from nails that have worked loose from their bed and are now sticking up above the surface. This is often the case in older properties where the floor has been poorly maintained over a prolonged period of time. However, giving the offending nail a quick ‘bash with a hammer’ isn’t always the answer, and if you have a number of loose nails it may indicate that the floor itself is unstable and is shifting. This could be due to structural problems underneath the floor, or damp causing the wood to warp and swell. If you suspect that a few loose nails may be an indicator of a larger problem, call in a floor sanding expert in wooden flooring to do a complete survey of the floor before the situation deteriorates.
New technology and different methods of producing wooden flooring have led to the development of non-slip flooring that retains all the aesthetic beauty of wooden flooring with the added advantage of non-slip properties. This new flooring is quickly gaining popularity in both the commercial and domestic sectors, and could mark a new trend in interior design, particularly in public spaces. However, non-slip wooden flooring is expensive, so in the meantime it can pay to consider other options to prevent slips, trips and falls. Mats with non-slip rubber backings are an obvious solution in high traffic areas, but remember that some non-slip backings can mark the wooden floor underneath, so check before you buy.