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Steer Clear of Trips and Slips - December 2017

Wet floors, spills and excess clutter can mean disaster for employees on the warehouse or retail floor, causing many every year to suffer lost pay and serious pain. Injuries caused by slips, trips and falls range from sprained or strained muscles and joints to broken bones and head injury. There are several precautions you should take to ensure your safety and the safety of others.


  • Keep floors clean and dry at all times. Wet floors present a slip hazard and can promote the growth of infection-causing microbes like mold, fungi and bacteria.
  • Remove all objects and clutter from aisles, exits and passageways.
  • In the event that grease or oil spills on the kitchen floor, clean the mess immediately and alert your co-workers of the problem before they accidentally fall.
  • Use floor or ceiling electrical plugs for power to avoid runninga cord down a long hallway.
  • Display warning signs to alert others of a wet floor.
  • Use floor mats while surfaces are drying after cleaning to provide traction.
  • Clean up spills immediately.
  • In areas prone to slipping (toilet and shower areas), use a no-skid wax product to clean.
  • While washing the floor, wear protective footgear to prevent falling.
  • Keep an eye out for uneven floors, and fix them or notify someone who can immediately.

Other Recommendations

  • Use strong ladders to reach as opposed to standing on small stools or boxes.
  • Stretch out bulging carpets to prevent trips and falls.
  • Use the handrails while walking down stairs to prevent slipping or walking too fast.
  • Repair broken light fixtures and replace bulbs for adequate visibility.

Always Stay Alert

Adopt a see it, sort it mentality. If younotice any situation that you think could present a slipping, tripping or falling hazard, act immediately to remedy it or notify your supervisor.You could be saving an unsuspecting victim serious pain.

Attractive Nuisance Dangers on Your Property - November 2017

It may surprise you that you are responsible for preventing injuries to children sustained while they were trespassing on your property that were caused by man-made conditions called “attractive nuisances.” These might include features of buildings, walls or even man-made ditches. Property managers and owners have the power to prevent entrance onto their property and discourage young trespassers from getting hurt using fencing, illustrated signs or other means.

If you have any reason to believe children might trespass onto your property, treat the problem with the highest gravity. The real estate and property management industries are especially at risk for attractive nuisance hazard exposures because of the presence of vacant property, which is much more difficult to monitor and protect. However, doing nothing to prevent the entry or injury of trespassers creates a serious financial risk for your company.

Owner Liability

As the owner of the property, you are responsible for taking steps to assure that anyone who enters, whether welcome or unwelcome, stays safe. While warning signs are an excellent start, many children may not be able to read them, so it is important to find additional ways of protecting your property. Ensure that gates are secured and fences are not easily climbed. Adequately cover or protect any conditions, including pools, ditches, walls or other man-made physical features that might present a hazard. This includes covering pools to avoid accidental drowning, placing sturdy fencing around hazardous areas and placing warning or “No Trespassing” signs. In addition, all safety equipment should be stored and locked at the end of each shift to avoid trespasser tampering.

Premise Liability

Property owners are also liable for maintenance and security, making sure that the property remains safe for all visitors. This includes the following:

  • Fixing cracks or gaps in walkways to avoid slip and fall dangers.
  • Locking all hazardous tools, equipment and chemicals away from the public.
  • Hanging flood lights in areas with low visibility.
  • Hiring security guards for added protection.
  • Installing rescue equipment such as ropes and poles.
  • Installing alert devices, such as flashing lights, sirens, alarms and telephones to alert security that someone has trespassed onto the premises.

In attractive nuisance cases, negligence means that the property owner was aware that someone could get hurt on the property and did nothing to prevent it. If you take all necessary precautions to protect individuals that are on your property, you are less likely to be found negligent in a premise liability suit. For more assistance in protecting your property, contact CMR Risk & Insurance Services, Inc. today.

Protect Your Intellectual Property - October 2017

Some of the most important assets in your business may be your intellectual property. These are intangible assets, including patents, trademarks and trade secrets. The U.S. government created these protections to keep your intellectual property against infringement.


  • What is a patent?

A patent is the legal protection granted by the federal government to an inventor to encourage progress and prevent others from benefiting from the invention.

  • What does patent protection provide?

Patent protection involves the right to exclude others from making, using or selling anything that would fall under the claims of the issued patent. The duration of the patent protection depends on the type of patent.

  • What factors are considered when determining whether a patent has been infringed?

Determining whether a patent has been infringed entails the court examining the claims of the patent and comparing them to the accused device or process. This may be more complex in situations where the claims terms are unclear or ambiguous. The court can determine that infringement exists even if the accused device or process isn’t identical to the original. If the device performs substantially the same function in largely the same way to produce substantially identical results, it is likely that a court would find infringement.

  • What are my rights if someone infringes my patent?

You may file suit in a federal district court to enforce your patent against an infringer. If you are successful, there are many possible outcomes. Courts look to compensate the patent holder with damages for lost profits and/or punitive damages for willful infringement.


  • What is a trademark?

A trademark serves to identify a single source for goods or services, membership in an organization or approval from a quality assurance program. It can be a product name, a brand, a slogan, a color and even a scent. Federal law allows for the protection of trademarks.

  • What does trademark protection provide?

The scope of the protection can vary widely depending on the strength and fame of a mark. For instance, many brand names are famous marks that are very strong. The length of time that a mark can be protected is indefinite because it is based upon use, but federal registrations have an initial term of 10 years. A mark may be renewed in successive 10-year increments as long as the mark is still in use.

  • What factors are considered when determining whether a trademark has been infringed?

Whether a trademark has been infringed is most often dependent upon whether a likelihood of confusion has been found. In determining whether there is a likelihood of confusion, courts generally look at factors like the defendant’s intent, similarity in marketing channels, the overall impression of the two marks in question and the similarity of goods or services associated with the marks.

  • What are my rights if someone infringes my federally registered trademark?

You have the right to bring an infringement action in a federal district court. After a finding of infringement, the court determines the appropriate remedies for the trademark holder. These can include an injunction to stop the infringing or diluting use, damages to cover defendant’s profits or losses sustained by plaintiff and punitive damages in cases of bad faith.

  • Are there applicable state or common laws?

There are state registries for trademarks, with rights and registration varying by state. Consult an attorney licensed in your state for specific state requirements and benefits.

Trade Secrets

  • What is a trade secret?

A trade secret is any proprietary information that serves as advantage over competitors and is kept secret. It is broadly defined and can range from a manufacturing process to software coding.

  • What factors are considered when determining whether a trade secret has been infringed?

The owner of the trade secret must prove that the alleged confidential information provided a competitive advantage, the information was maintained in secrecy and the information was improperly acquired or disclosed by the defendant.

  • What are my rights if someone infringes my trade secret?

A lawsuit may be brought under federal or state law depending upon the circumstances. Under the Economic Espionage Act, individuals can be fined up to $500,000, and corporations can be fined up to $5,000,000 plus possible jail time for trade secret infringement. Several states have also enacted laws making it a crime to infringe upon or steal a trade secret.

  • Are there applicable state or common laws?

Many states also have their own trade secret legislation which should be considered when developing your policy.

Protect Your Business

Patents, trademarks and trade secrets may be integral parts of your business. It is vital that you understand the laws associated with these concepts to protect your intellectual property. You also need to ensure that your behavior does not infringe on someone else’s intellectual property. This piece is not exhaustive and should be read as an overview. For more information, consult legal counsel.

Playground Liabilities and Safety - September 2017

Properties with playground facilities are a valuable amenity for families with children. They give children a designated area to play, allowing parents to feel that their children are somewhere safe. However, playgrounds are commonly the site of many injuries, ranging in severity from minor to serious. As a property manager, you need to balance providing a playground facility that is safe and fun, while making sure to protect against the liability that you’re exposed to by having a playground on your property.

Duty of Care

Some lawsuits related to playground injuries have centered on negligence due to lack of proper supervision. While it is not practical to expect a playground to be monitored every moment children are present, there is an expectation of a reasonable level of adequate supervision. The duty to provide safe play areas and proper supervision should be placed on those responsible for operating playgrounds.

The duty of care owed by a playground operator is the degree of care that a person of ordinary prudence charged with similar duties would exercise in the same circumstances. A public or private landowner has a duty to provide adequate supervision and to maintain the premises and playground surfaces in a reasonably safe condition.

In play areas that are not regularly attended to by a designated supervisor, signs should be posted to communicate common rules for the play area, such as under what age a child must be accompanied by an adult, the hours the playground is open and that glass bottles and alcoholic beverages are prohibited.

Safe Playground Design

Another important liability comes from dangerous or unsafe play equipment. It's important for children to have age-appropriate gear to play on so that they do not injure themselves on improperly sized equipment. When designing a playground for children of all ages, equipment should ideally be separated into three distinct groups: for children under age 2, for 2- to 5-year-olds, and for 5- to 12-year-olds.

Other safety considerations should be taken into account when planning a playground:

  • Items with moving parts, such as seesaws and swings, should be located in a separate area and allow for ample space for the moving parts.
  • Minimize the number of spaces that could trap a child's head, arms or legs. All openings, such as rungs on a ladder, should be either smaller than 3.5 inches or larger than 9 inches.
  • Wooden equipment should not be cracked or splintered. Any cracked or splintered equipment requires immediate attention for repair or replacement.
  • Any sandbox areas should be inspected regularly before children use them. Be sure that these areas are covered every night to prevent animal contamination.

The selection of safe and age appropriate equipment is just as important as the selection of a safe ground surface for the playground area. Trips, slips and falls will happen and a safe ground surface can reduce the severity of an injury or prevent an injury completely. Concrete, asphalt and blacktop are all extremely hard surfaces and are generally considered unsafe for playground areas. Woodchip ground cover is much softer, but debris hidden in the woodchips, or the woodchips themselves, can cause falls and minor injuries. Rubber mats offer the most stability, especially for younger children, and allows for the easiest wheelchair access. Property managers and maintenance staff should make sure the ground surface stays level and free of debris that could cause children to trip and fall, such as rocks, tree stumps and tree roots.

Protecting Your Risk

Keep informed of the latest in playground safety developments. One of the most authoritative playground safety standards is published by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in its Handbook for Public Playground Safety. The handbook contains a wealth of information regarding playground surface and equipment hazards. Any playground operator is generally expected to be familiar with these standards, and many states now require that all public playgrounds conform to them.

General liability insurance generally covers claim costs associated with playground incidents, but having a playground facility does increase your risk. Consult CMR Risk & Insurance Services, Inc. to make sure your coverage is adequate and protects your risk sufficiently.

Wire Fraud in Real Estate - August 2017

No industry is exempt from cyber crime, and the real estate industry has become a common target. As hackers devise plans to obtain sensitive information about real estate transactions, real estate professionals need to take particular interest in cyber security to protect their clients and themselves from wire fraud. 

What is Wire Fraud?

In instances of wire fraud, a common ploy involves hackers breaking into a real estate agent’s email account to obtain details about upcoming transactions. Once the hackers have all the information they need, they send an email to the buyer, pretending to be the agent or a representative of the title company.

In an email to the buyer, the hackers state that there has been a change in the closing instructions and that the buyer needs to follow new wire instructions listed in the email. If a buyer falls victim to the scam and wires money to the fraudulent account, they’re unlikely to see the money again.

Red Flags

A potential indicator of wire fraud is an email that makes any reference to a Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) wire transfer, which is sent via the SWIFT international payment network and indicates an overseas destination for the funds.

However, since the emails tend to include detailed information pertaining to the transaction—due to the perpetrator having access to the agent’s email account—many people make the mistake of assuming the email is from a legitimate source. The email addresses often appear to be legitimate, either because the hacker has managed to create a fake email account using the name of the real estate company or because they’ve hacked the agent’s actual email account.

How to Avoid It

Wire fraud is one of many types of online fraud targeting real estate professionals and their clients. To prevent cyber crime from occurring, every party involved in a real estate transaction needs to implement and follow a series of security measures that include the following:  

  • Never send wire transfer information, or any type of sensitive information, via email. This includes all types of financial information, not just wire instructions.
  • If you’re a real estate professional, inform clients about your email and communication practices, and explain that you will never expect them to send sensitive information via email.
  • If wiring funds, first contact the recipient using a verified phone number to confirm that the wiring information is accurate. The phone number should be obtained by a reliable source—email is not one of them.
  • If email is the only method available for sending information about a transaction, make sure it is encrypted.  
  • Delete old emails regularly, as they may reveal information that hackers can use.  
  • Change usernames and passwords on a regular basis, and make sure that they’re difficult to guess.
  • Make sure anti-virus technology is up to date, and that firewalls are installed and working.
  • Never open suspicious emails. If the email has already been opened, never click on any links in the email, open any attachments or reply to the email.

If You’ve Been Hacked

Take the following steps if you suspect that your email, or any type of account, has been hacked:

  • Immediately change all usernames and passwords associated with any account that may have been compromised.
  • Contact anyone who may have been exposed to the attack so they too can change their usernames and passwords. Remind them to avoid complying with any requests for financial information that come from an unverified source.  
  • Report fraudulent activity to the FBI via the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov/default.aspx. Also contact the state or local realtor association, which will alert others to the suspicious activity.

Contact CMR Risk & Insurance Services, Inc. today for more information on avoiding real estate fraud and other types of cyber crime.

Vacant Property Insurance - July 2017

Owning a vacant building can pose serious liabilities because vacant buildings are more susceptible to vandalism, undetected repairs, fire and other losses. If you own vacant property, it is advisable to purchase Vacant Property Insurance, also known as Vacant Building Insurance or Vacant Dwelling Insurance, to protect against risks.


The following are the most prevalent risks to vacant properties:

  • Fire
  • Lightning damage
  • Explosion
  • Windstorm or hail damage
  • Smoke
  • Riot or civil commotion damage
  • Sprinkler leakage
  • Sinkhole collapse
  • Vandalism (no one is present to deter vandals)
  • Malicious mischief on the property and general property destruction
  • Presence of squatters on the property causing damage without owner knowledge

Insurance Solutions

Under certain policies, Vacant Property Insurance can provide protection if your building goes unoccupied for as little as four days. It also protects against liabilities in the event someone is injured on your property and sues for damages. In some cases, it is required when a property owner dies and the property goes to an estate sale. It may also be a viable option if the property is in the process of being sold or if it is under construction and is uninhabitable.

In addition to purchasing coverage for a vacant building, take the following actions:

  • Regularly inspect it for damage or threats of damage
  • Seal off windows and letterboxes
  • Install alarm systems that are triggered by intruders, fires or floods


A typical Vacant Property Insurance policy is one and a half to three times the cost of a Property Insurance policy due to the increased risks associated with owning an uninhabited building.

If your occupied property becomes vacant, it is imperative that you notify CMR Risk & Insurance Services, Inc. immediately. If you fail to give us adequate notice (in some cases, the required notice is 60 days after it becomes vacant) and you suffer a loss, coverage may be denied.

We understand that unfavorable incidents can occur, but Vacant Property Insurance can provide necessary protection. Contact us today for more details.

Swimming Pool Liability for Condos and HOAs - June 2017

A private swimming pool run by a condo or homeowners’ association (HOA) can be a very attractive amenity to potential homebuyers. However, while they can be popular with owners, pools create a number of liabilities for the association that need to be addressed to avoid safety and legal concerns.

To retain the benefits that a pool brings to your association, your board of directors will need to mitigate the risks of operating a pool by instituting proper safety measures, supplemented by adequate insurance coverage to protect the association from liability.

Pool Liabilities

When evaluating the risk a pool poses, some potential liabilities may be fairly obvious while others may not. Obvious risks are drowning or slip and fall accidents, but don’t overlook items such as water quality, chemical management and lifeguard staffing. Adequately identifying your risks is essential to addressing them.

Mitigating Risk

Your association’s board of directors should consider appointing a pool committee that can take responsibility for reviewing, updating and distributing pool rules. This process should begin with a review of all state and local regulations involving pool operation to ensure compliance. The committee should review the rules annually to make sure they are still addressing liability concerns, plus conduct a thorough inspection of all aspects of the pool facilities.

To avoid key areas of liability the committee should examine the following aspects of the property’s pool:

  • The pool area should be completely surrounded by a fence or other structure that includes a gate or door with a locking mechanism meant to prevent unauthorized access when the pool is closed.
  • All rescue equipment including flotation devices, life hooks and backboards are readily accessible in case of an emergency; there should also be a first aid kit on hand.
  • Chemicals should be kept in a cool, dry, well-ventilated and secure area inaccessible by patrons.
  • Chemicals should be monitored on a consistent basis with recordkeeping completed in accordance with any state or local regulation.
  • Hours of operation should not be taxing on the resources of the association.

Pool rules should be posted clearly in the pool area, and annually distributed to all residents.

Are you Covered?

Even if you take all the right precautions, it is important to be prepared in the event of an accident. Check with CMR Risk & Insurance Services, Inc. to verify if your association’s current liability coverage addresses your pool risks. When talking to our team, also ask about any stipulations a policy may have for coverage. If your pool is not up to regulation, some policies may not pay out in the event of a claim, so it’s important to know what is required of you.

Air Quality at Your Property - May 2017

The health of your property’s occupants can be jeopardized by poor air quality, and it is your responsibility to provide a healthy indoor environment, whether it is protecting against airborne infections like H1N1 or pollutants from equipment. From mechanical problems like a faulty exhaust fan to the measure of air volume exchanges, there are many factors that are easily overlooked. An Indoor Air Quality Management Plan is a good way to ensure that residents’ health is not endangered by the air in the building.

The plan you design must address the specific needs of each space, and should never be limited to HVAC maintenance. The task should be assigned to one person who is charged with identifying problem locations and staff whose activities might affect the quality of the air.

Study the Exchange Rate

The air volume exchange rate is a factor that property managers must consider. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommends a minimum exchange of ten cubic feet per minute per person in an indoor environment. This rate can be tested by a certified engineer. If your rate is too high, you will be alerted to problems like a faulty variable air volume box.

Take Steps to Improve Your Plan

Ensure that you will easily be able to update your plan for any legislative or other changes that affect air quality. Follow these guidelines for creating a plan that is appropriate to your situation:

  • Consult the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA) for advice on the maintenance of air quality if you renovate or add on to your property.
  • Schedule routine maintenance of motors, fan belts and filters with certified mechanics. Revisit everything every 90 days.
  • Specify filter selection and maintenance. If the property has mixed uses, each occupant should have a separate filter schedule:

    o  Specify which Minimum Efficiency Rating Value (MERV) is necessary in the filter. The higher the number, the higher the filtration rate.

    o  In sensitive environments, use a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.

  • Design procedures for reacting to complaints by occupants, including those regarding humidity or odors. Air quality professionals may be able to analyze air samples to identify appropriate solutions, which might include dehumidifiers or air scrubbers.
  • Verify that all cleaning products comply with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards.

Work With Occupants

Inform your occupants your air quality plan, and ask for their help in maintaining good air quality. There are steps occupants can take to improve air quality, including the following:

  • Refraining from smoking within 25 feet of the building
  • Using entryway cleaning systems, such as grills and mats, to reduce the amount of dirt, dust and pollen that enters the building
  • In sensitive environments, using ultra-violet lights to kill bacteria circulating in the air

Contact Us

For more loss prevention tips, contact CMR Risk & Insurance Services, Inc.. Our insurance specialists are available to help you solve your property and casualty issues. 

Vacant Property Insurance - April 2017

Owning a vacant building can pose serious liabilities because vacant buildings are more susceptible to vandalism, undetected repairs, fire and other losses. If you own vacant property, it is advisable to purchase Vacant Property Insurance, also known as Vacant Building Insurance or Vacant Dwelling Insurance, to protect against risks.


The following are the most prevalent risks to vacant properties:

  • Fire
  • Lightning damage
  • Explosion
  • Windstorm or hail damage
  • Smoke
  • Riot or civil commotion damage
  • Sprinkler leakage
  • Sinkhole collapse
  • Vandalism (no one is present to deter vandals)
  • Malicious mischief on the property and general property destruction
  • Presence of squatters on the property causing damage without owner knowledge

Insurance Solutions

Under certain policies, Vacant Property Insurance can provide protection if your building goes unoccupied for as little as four days. It also protects against liabilities in the event someone is injured on your property and sues for damages. In some cases, it is required when a property owner dies and the property goes to an estate sale. It may also be a viable option if the property is in the process of being sold or if it is under construction and is uninhabitable.

In addition to purchasing coverage for a vacant building, take the following actions:

  • Regularly inspect it for damage or threats of damage
  • Seal off windows and letterboxes
  • Install alarm systems that are triggered by intruders, fires or floods


A typical Vacant Property Insurance policy is one and a half to three times the cost of a Property Insurance policy due to the increased risks associated with owning an uninhabited building.

If your occupied property becomes vacant, it is imperative that you notify [B_Officialname] immediately. If you fail to give us adequate notice (in some cases, the required notice is 60 days after it becomes vacant) and you suffer a loss, coverage may be denied.

We understand that unfavorable incidents can occur, but Vacant Property Insurance can provide necessary protection. Contact us today for more details.

Be Prepared for Unexpected Threats and Dangers - March 2017

As a property manager, you are responsible for the safety of your tenants and the property itself. You need to be prepared for a host of unforeseen dangers that threaten that safety, including criminal activity, natural disasters and terrorist acts. Though these events may seem unlikely, they could have catastrophic consequences so it is imperative that you prepare.

Without prior planning, you leave your company open to financial disaster, especially if you are forced to evacuate or temporarily close down your buildings. You also may face lawsuits for being negligent in protecting your tenants.

Ensure Proper Security

One risk you need to be aware of and plan for is criminal activity, including vandalism, break-ins, theft and violence. Though not all security threats can be avoided, some situations can be prevented with appropriate preparation.

  • Advise staff and residents to report any suspicious persons or activity in or around the facility.
  • Establish and follow visitor control procedures when feasible. This may include assigned parking, sign-ins for use of public areas, escorts for tours of the property, etc.
  • Survey locks, fences, exterior lights and other physical security devices to ensure that they are in place where needed and in proper operating condition. Establish a monthly inspection of your security perimeter and key protective features of your facility.
  • Evaluate critical locations in your facility for proper security, including the electric, telephone and gas units, building entrances, transformers, outside storage units and computer rooms.
  • Be sure each unit is equipped with appropriate locks and security features, and instruct residents to let management know if maintenance is needed or if their key is lost or stolen.
  • If your facility has a security/fire alarm system, be sure it is operating properly and that key personnel know how to arm/disarm it.
  • Make sure that fire suppression systems are regularly inspected and maintained. Also be sure that a sufficient number of trusted personnel know how to activate, operate and shut them down.
  • Closed-circuit television can serve as an excellent crime deterrent, and when the system is equipped with a recorder it can help solve crimes.
  • Review your procedures for issuing facility keys and access cards. Keep a list of all residents who have received keys (and how many were issued per unit).
  • Discuss security with your local police department. Police departments are often very willing to provide information and support, which may include regular patrols through your complex or past your properties.
  • Have your local fire department conduct a pre-planned visit to your building. While there, they can identify potential hazards and plan fire suppression priorities.

Disaster Planning

Though a more unlikely risk, you should always be prepared to use established strategies to mitigate the risk of disasters:

  • Be sure to discuss terrorism and applicable natural disaster coverage with your CMR Risk & Insurance Services, Inc. representative.
  • Keep copies of insurance policies and other critical documents in a safe and accessible location (e.g. a fireproof safe).
  • Evaluate which disasters are most likely to occur in your area, remembering to include the possibility for terrorist activity. Be sure you are prepared for all of the risks you identify.
  • Develop a Disaster Recovery Plan. If you already have one make sure that it is up-to-date. This entails preparing for anything that disruption in essential systems, infrastructure or building functions.
  • Have telephone call lists available (include cell phone and pager numbers) for all key personnel so required staff members can be contacted from any location in the event of a disaster.
  • Establish a system to communicate with tenants in the event of a disaster or other emergency situation. Educate tenants about this system and other disaster response plans that they should be aware of, including evacuation or building lock-down procedures.
  • Consider establishing an alternate method for your phone service if the switchboard becomes unusable (e.g. forwarding incoming calls to a cell phone or remote number).

How to select a proper floor mat - February 2017

This reference note offers some simple guidelines on selecting and installing the right matting system for the right purpose.

 Tribology is the study of the interaction of sliding surfaces. In slips and falls, tribology is associated with the following:

1. Friction between the shoe sole and the floor surface,

2. Lubrication at the interface or contaminate on the floor surface, such as water, grease or oil, particulate soil etc., and

3. Wear of floor surface and shoe sole material over time.

All three are important when assessing potential for slips and falls, and all three are important when selecting interventions to prevent slips and falls.

Mats are more than a place to wipe your shoes when entering a building or to stand on when performing manual work tasks. When selected and installed correctly, mats can reduce the likelihood of slips and falls and reduce lower extremity and back discomfort.

When Do I Need a Mat?

Mats might be warranted when a pedestrian walking or working surface does not meet slip resistance requirements, such as when moisture, grease, oil, dirt or other contaminates are present. Examples include at building entrances, grocery produce areas, around salad bars, water fountains, sinks, restaurant kitchens, machinery process areas, near food counters, and anywhere spills, water, dirt, grease, etc. is part of the environment. Some mats have anti-fatigue properties that might be useful for areas where employees stand in one place for a long period of time. Mats can also be used as a temporary fix until floor surface repairs can be made if surface is damaged.

There are two types of matting systems; entrance mats or “front of the house” mats and multi-purpose mats or “back of the house” mats. Whether “front of the house” or “back of the house,” a strategy needs to be employed to select the right mat for the right environment. Too often, little thought is given to matting systems. It is easy to subcontract to a vendor the selection, cleaning and replacement of loose-lay mats (see below) used at entrances and back of the house. Mats that are dirty, worn and old offer little slip prevention benefits.

Entrance Mats

Entrance matting improves overall floor maintenance by scraping and absorbing soil particles and moisture from footwear to keep the floor in a clean dry condition. Can an entrance mat system improve the “tribology” of a floor? Yes, because mats remove moisture and particulate soil from the shoe sole and heel, thereby, reducing likelihood of slips and protecting the floor finish from unnecessary wear. It is estimated that 80% of soil entering a building can be trapped within the first 15 feet on a carpeted surface.

There are four types of entrance mats:

  1. Well and grate system: Requires a structural commitment. This type of mat funnels and drains moisture down and is a permanent fixture at entrances.
  2. Glue-down: Installed at any time. The floor surface can be damaged by the adhesive. Some types require a metal strip and rubber reducer that is screwed into the floor as the finished edge. Replacement is time consuming.
  3. Recessed: Permanent mats inserted into a well or recessed surface that become the finished floor. The finished height of the mat should be at least flush with the lip of the well and not represent a trip hazard.
  4. Loose-lay: Should stay in place without the use of adhesives, frames, screws or duct tape. Be aware of the type of backing. Guard against damage to underlying floor surface as these mats may harbor mold and mildew. Air should circulate through the mat.

Recessed and loose-lay entrance mats are the most common. Surface selection depends on expected foot traffic and whether the mat is used in winter or wet climates. The primary purpose of a mat is to remove moisture and soil from the shoe. If an inferior mat is selected, it will wear quickly, saturate with water quickly, and not perform as it should. More durable and absorptive entrance mats cost more but they usually last longer and do the job better.

The depth of the mat is very important. The number of steps required to effectively scrape and wipe feet depends on climate. As climate improves, the demands on floor matting become less intense. In snow strategies, a minimum of 10-12 walking steps is a good guide to the depth of floor mat needed. Rain strategies can gauge about 8-10 steps and dry strategies require about 6-8 steps.1 Mat depth “credit” is given for the following:

1. Overhangs (if any)

2. Outside mats (if any)

3. Vestibule mats (if any)

4. Walk-off mats inside the building

5. Type of flooring inside the building

A rule of safe practice is that footprints or water prints should not be seen beyond the last entrance mat. See Figure 1.

If the walkway surface material inside the building can be slippery when wet (i.e. polished and waxed vinyl composition tile, terrazzo, polished granite/marble, glazed and smooth ceramic tiles etc.) and there are no interior mats, or there are mats but by design and installation they do not,

  • Adequately absorb moisture from footwear,
  • Adequately remove soils from footwear,
  • Or perform well because they are dirty... then entrance safety improvements are needed — including selecting the right matting system.

Foot grills may not perform well alone on wet, snowy days as they can saturate quickly; therefore, an absorptive walk-off mat inside the building is needed. The walking depth strategy would extend from the outside edge of the vestibule mat to the inside edge of the walk-off mat. However, if there is an overhang, the walking depth would include the overhang depth.

Multi-Purpose Mats

Back-of-the-house mats are multi-purpose mats that can absorb liquids, elevate workers above standing water, provide a slip resistant working or standing surface, and/or provide anti-fatigue properties.

Absorbing or retaining spills is common for mats used in grocery produce areas, around water fountains and sinks, etc. When selecting mats for this purpose, consider liquid absorption characteristics; containment of spills and debris; and durability, such as grocery cart traffic and foot traffic.

Mats with slip-resistant surfaces are useful in standing work areas where grease and oil are common, such as in restaurant kitchens, manufacturing and food process areas. These mats have durable slip resistant surfaces that are also easy to clean. When the surface is wet, some mats can be more slippery than the surface they rest on. Test by kicking the wet mat and then kick the adjacent floor surface to determine which is more slippery. Drawbacks of mats are that some can interfere with wheeled equipment, and moisture and debris can be tracked onto other areas if wrong mat is selected. It can be difficult to practice “clean-as-you-go” when mats are in place.

Anti-Fatigue Mats

Anti-fatigue mats are common at work areas where prolonged standing work is performed, like retail cashiers, machine operators and packing workers. Standing for long periods of time has been implicated in a number of health issues, including lower extremity discomfort, pain and fatigue, and low back discomfort. Research has shown that discomfort may be due to venous pooling rather than muscle fatigue. Subject ratings of perceived fatigue from various flooring and matting materials have been shown to be more helpful than quantitative measures when evaluating the physical benefits of anti-fatigue mats among alternatives.

Research has also shown material that is too soft can be associated with increased lower extremity fatigue and discomfort, while harder or stiffer surfaces were most often associated with low back discomfort. No study has yet to recommend a specific material for anti-fatigue matting. When selecting anti-fatigue matting, experiment with different types and be sure to involve the worker in the final selection.

Mat Selection

Use the following guidelines when selecting mats:

  • Select a mat design and surface material based on expected environment and traffic load.
  • Select mats whose edges will not curl by design. These mats often have a beveled edge or a flat edge to reduce tripping exposure. Mats more than ¼ inch thick should have tapered edges to prevent tripping.
  • Select mats with non-slip backing that resists movement.
  • Select mats that guard against damage to underlying floor surface caused by mold and mildew.
  • Select mats that are easy to clean. A mat’s weight, size and openings determine how difficult or easy it will be to clean.
  • When practical, a single larger mat should be used instead of multiple smaller mats.
  • Mats and runners should be laid out to avoid overlap or gaps between them and to provide a continuous walkway path.
  • When selecting anti-fatigue mats involve workers and offer options.

Mat Usage

Use the following guidelines when using mats:

  • Routinely inspect mats for damage and excess wear, and replace as necessary.
  • Store mats or runners to prevent edges from curling.
  • Do not place mats or runners against objects that don’t allow the mat to lie flat (e.g. against machinery and process areas, doors or furniture).
  • Mats should receive scheduled cleanings, especially in environments exposed to snow, ice and rain.