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INTRAsystems’ Bryony Light illuminates how entrance matting safeguards retailers against slip hazards

Bryony Light, marketing manager at INTRAsystems, sheds light on how effective entrance matting safeguards retailers against slips, trips and falls.

In the ever-evolving retail landscape, one constant remains – the persistent threat of slips, trips, and falls. Statistics from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) paint a sobering picture, with slips and trips accounting for most injuries in the retail sector. More alarmingly, they reveal a single accident typically costs retailers £15,000 besides the unfathomable costs to individuals.

As the UK’s shifting weather patterns bring intense and unpredictable rainfall, retailers face a mounting challenge in maintaining a safe environment. Intense rain compounds the issue that 90% of slips occur on wet or contaminated floors, making effective entrance matting a critical first line of defence. But one which is often overlooked or underestimated.

2023 ranked among the 10 wettest years on record since 1836. Regions across England and Northern Ireland experienced rainfall 25% above average, with monthly records exceeded in four separate months – a first in recorded history.

Consequences of inadequate entrance matting
An HSE case study highlights the repercussions of unsuitable entrance matting at a supermarket plagued by slip, trip, and fall accidents because of excess water levels on rainy days.

‘Staff and members of the public experienced a number of slip, trip and falling accidents. The areas of the supermarket that were most affected by a high slip risk when wet were the terrazzo floor tiles in the entrance area and the first few aisles of the supermarket adjacent to this entrance. (The problem was) a high level of water ingress from rain in the foyer. The entrance matting systems in place weren’t large enough to cope with the amount of water transferred onto the mats from pedestrian movement.’

The costs associated with incidents like these extend beyond financial burdens, encompassing lost productivity, human suffering, and legal liability.

Cost of slips, trips and falls to employers:

  • 46% of non-fatal staff slip, trip and fall injuries cost employers over seven days of lost time, with typical costs of £7,600.

Example compensation costs for slips,
trips and falls:

  • Up to £11,730 for a minor ankle injury
  • £3,710 to £122,860 for hip or pelvis injuries
  • £11,730 to £85,470 for a back injury causing permanent symptoms.

Hidden and ongoing costs:
Following compensation claim other hard-to-quantify costs include:

  • Reputational and PR damage
  • Lost productivity and disruption to trade following investigations and time-consuming situation management
  • Claims administration costs and increased insurance premiums.

Common mistakes when choosing retail entrance matting
Effective entrance matting isn’t a silver bullet but it plays a pivotal role in mitigating these risks and the associated claims costs. However, there are several common problems when planning suitable entrance matting.

• One-way traffic – shopping centres and retail spaces often have wide entrances with people moving taking different routes or changing direction suddenly. Matting that works in a small draft lobby with restricted one-way flow is unlikely to suit entrances to circulation spaces or those with various potential routes.

• Too small – insufficient area dedicated to entrance matting to comprehensively cope with dirt and moisture. Industry standards dictate entrance matting should typically extend one metre either side of any entrance doors. And for high-traffic areas, such as retail, six to 10m perpendicular to the door for optimum performance. This also incorporates legal DDA regulation to provide wheelchair users with four metres to remove as much dirt and moisture as possible.

Fact: Typical wheelchair tyre diameter = 56 – 66cm, circumference 172 – 207cm. Two rotations of the wheels = 344 – 414cm.

• Cheap solutions – quality systems can be hard to justify in tough market conditions, particularly in retail where margins are small and the bottom line is king. Solutions must be cost-effective. But consider both short-term and long-term – the costs of not installing appropriate entrance matting often outweigh the investment. Not to mention the fact quality fibres will last far longer so whole life costs are significantly lower overall.

• Ongoing cleaning and maintenance not considered – with vast expanses to clean, matting that’s hard to maintain risks being dismissed or, worse still, ignored completely, leading to potential hazards from long-term dirt build-up. This ultimately increases cleaning costs. Research by 3M found as few as 150 people entering a facility can track almost half a kilo of dirt in five days. This can cost over £30,000 annually to remove.

• Responsibility – All too often, a small recessed matwell isnt sufficient on wet days, triggering the addition of throw-down mats by store staff. These do help, but it’s far better to plan ahead and prepare for heavy rainfall as a corporate risk mitigation strategy, rather than rely on reactive, in-store measures and hope staff have sufficient supplies.

• The solution, in our opinion, is INTRAlink2. A relative newcomer to INTRAsystems’ comprehensive matting lineup, INTRAlink2 combats these issues and more. Made in the UK, it’s a heavy-duty, cost-effective, 100% recycled PVC system, designed to deliver better performance in retail environments. Made of closed construction, modular tiles, INTRAlink2 is specially designed for multi-directional traffic, featuring 95% fibre coverage for maximum moisture removal and ease of maintenance.

Match in with existing decor, incorporate branding, corporate colours or inset logos, with 19 colours and three fibre compositions to choose from.

This high-performance comes with a surprisingly competitive price tag. It’s no surprise shopping centres and big-name retailers across the UK are specifying INTRAlink2.

Another standout advantage for contractors is the speed and ease with which INTRAlink2 can be installed, minimising disruption. A recent shopping centre project showcases this efficiency, where two entrances were revamped in a single evening at The Howard Centre in Welwyn Garden City. The product is delivered in easy-to-handle boxes of interconnecting square panels and can be easily cut with a safety knife to accommodate any shape or layout.

Quick installation, impressive performance, and competitive pricing, combined with the fact that INTRAlink2 is held in stock and available for next-day delivery, means retailers and contractors alike can respond swiftly.

Whether it’s upgrading or extending existing entrance mats, retailers get a robust, and cost-effective way to mitigate water ingress. And contractors can add it to their portfolio for a stress-free, full-service offering.
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