Walk Or Ride?

For more up-close instruction, work with the local janitorial distributor that sold you the machine. An astute distributor typically provides training on the machine, often meeting with cleaning workers when they are most likely to perform their floor-care tasks–in the evenings or on weekends. Nothing can beat hands-on training to promote user safety.

A safety issue that must be considered in selecting equipment is the height of the employee who will be using it. He or she must be able to see over a walk-behind machine to ensure proper handling. With ride-on equipment, he or she must be able to comfortably see over the dashboard and reach the pedals. With some ride-on machines, the seat can be positioned to accommodate workers of different heights.

Workers also should be instructed not to make any modifications to the equipment. A great deal of research and technology goes into designing these machines so they operate properly and safely. In one case, a worker made unauthorized adjustments to the squeegee that helps collect moisture and dry the floor. As a result, the machine left damp spots on the floor, which resulted in a slip-and-fall accident.

Safe Maintenance And Transportation

Most floor machines have floor pads, which should be changed per the manufacturer’s recommended intervals or as necessary. Make sure the equipment is turned off and on a flat, open surface when changing them.

Protective gloves and goggles are recommended when removing pads as well as filling the machine, emptying it, or handling chemicals. Floor-care chemicals are some of the most powerful and caustic used in the professional cleaning industry, and skin and eye contact with these products can result in serious injury.

Brakes and tires on the machines should be checked regularly. As they become accustomed to the equipment, experienced operators will be able to sense a loss of traction or, similarly, any steering problems. These problems should be reported to managers and fixed as soon as possible.

Transporting the equipment is another safety concern. Due to budget cuts, more and more park and recreation departments have only a few floor machines that must be used in several locations. While transporting a walk-behind or ride-on floor machine, drivers should avoid potholes and curbs, and try not to cut corners too sharply. As big as they are, these machines are also delicate, and the movements can bend and loosen the equipment’s housings and connections.

While walk-behind and ride-on floor machines can reduce labor costs, improve worker productivity, and meet most floor-cleaning challenges, proper handling of the equipment is necessary in order to achieve this. Managers and cleaning workers should invest the time to know the equipment, and to take advantage of training for these machines in order for them to be the most effective.

Rob Godlewski is vice president of marketing for Powr-Flite, a manufacturer of professional cleaning equipment. He may be reached at r.godlewski@tacony.com.

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