Slip Hazard Safety | A Lesson in Ice Melt

A Lesson in Ice Melt – What You Can Learn by EavesdroppingPosted: Mar 2014 Posted by: Samantha Sweeney

Samantha Sweeney

As spring officially arrived, I spent some time reflecting on my winter travel adventures, the season of severe weather and some of the lessons learned over these past few months.  One particularly beneficial lesson ensued when weather-related conditions had once again foiled my travel plans but opened up a few days for me to visit local architectural and design firms with our New England representative.

It was another snowy afternoon but the roads were well maintained so David and I headed out to the office
of one of our long-term Boston-area clients.  The objective of our meeting was to obtain honest and valuable input from our client, Mark and his design team, on the new product line we were in the process of developing.

After roughly twenty minutes into our discussion, Mark’s office phone rang and he politely told us that he would have to take the call.  David and I stood up to exit his office when Mark whispered that we could stay, he expected the call would only take a few minutes.  So we sat down and quietly listened in on Mark’s conversation.

We could only hear Mark’s side of the conversation, but it quickly became apparent that Mark was speaking to one of his clients, an annoyed client that we’ll call Tom, and this was one of many phone calls Mark received from Tom since the winter began.  As we sat there eavesdropping on the one-sided discussion, the story continued to unfold:

Construction of Tom’s project completed last summer and he was open for business by early fall.  Following the winter’s first snowstorm, Tom called Mark to report that a customer had slipped on their way into the building and he would need to remedy the situation ASAP.  Mark explained to Tom that his team of A&D professionals specified the very best in terms of quality and safety for the particularly high profile building and without a doubt all of the entrance grilles, matting and flooring products met with the strictest of compliance standards and the incident must have been an oddity.  A few weeks later Tom contacted Mark once again to inform him that a second customer had slipped on their way into the building.  Completely astonished, Mark went on a field trip to investigate the situation.

He arrived at the building to observe a walkway lined with blue-tinted snow banks and a main entryway that was completely ice and debris free.  Once inside, he found that the interior flooring surfaces seemed a bit slick but they were not icy or wet.  He reached down to find the bottom of his shoe felt slippery and he detected an unfamiliar greasy substance.  Mark met with the facility’s personnel to discuss maintenance routines and he was not able to identify questionable floor cleaning products or anything unusual.  Approaching the door on his way out, he asked the facility’s manager about the oily blotches on the still very new interior matting.  The manager explained that the icemelter tracks in on customers shoes and caused stains on the entrance matting.

The puzzle pieces were coming together and Mark uncovered that they were using Calcium Chloride icemelter and that was causing the hazardous conditions. Calcium chloride leaves behind an oily residue can be costly and dangerous. The oily residue stains matting and carpets requiring excessive cleaning or replacement. If the building’s entrance is a smooth surface the oily residue will cause a serious slip hazard and must be continually cleaned up, increasing risk and maintenance costs.  We have found that potassium based icemelters do not track in a residue when in a dissolved state.  It is nearly impossible to prevent the solid form of an icemelter from being carried into the building on people’s shoes but the best defense against this is to have a very good quality exterior foot grille and an interior matting system that extends well into the building.

Mark finished his conversation with Tom, and I just had to ask him why his discussion with Tom sounded so inconclusive.  “This is the third time I have explained this to him,” Mark stated, “their facility doesn’t want to change icemelter, they just wanted us to fix the problem.”

There’s crazy, then there’s CRAZY! Am I right?

(Names have been changed to protect the innocent.)





Categories: Architect & Designer News, On the Road with Samantha

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