FM Articles

Protect Your Patients and Floors


As healthcare facilities strive to maintain, improve and protect the health and safety of its patients, visitors and staff, a great deal of pressure rests on the environmental services teams’ shoulders. While these individuals do not provide direct patient care, they are responsible for such critical tasks as fighting infection-causing pathogens, using proper cleaning chemicals, driving HCAHPS scores, and ensuring overall facility safety. In addition, they are charged with controlling their costs, doing more with less, and extending the life of interior resources.

One significant area of focus for environmental services teams is floor care. In fact, according to the International Executive Housekeepers Association, 70 – 80 percent of dirt, debris and other contaminants are tracked into a building on footwear, leading custodial workers to spend 39 percent of their time on floor care maintenance.

As dirt and debris enter a building, they can scratch and damage both soft and hard flooring. Moisture from rain and snowmelt can increase the risk of slips and falls. And contaminants often become airborne and negatively impact indoor air quality throughout a facility, which is of particular concern in healthcare settings, where patients’ health is already compromised.

The best way to help prevent these types of pollutants and moisture from entering a building is to remove them at the door with a proper entrance matting system capable of absorbing moisture and scraping and brushing away dust, dirt and debris. Following are a few suggestions for environmental services teams to keep in mind as they look to maintain safety, control costs and protect their flooring assets.

Know Your Entrance Zones
The International Sanitary & Supply Association recommends that commercial buildings use a minimum of 30 linear feet of entrance matting to remove 100 percent of contaminants from footwear and prevent them from entering a building. It is widely accepted that these 30 linear feet be divided into three separate zones, each with different matting requirements.


Zone one is the exterior surface immediately in front of a facility’s doors. This zone requires six to 10 linear feet of an aggressive scraping, weather-proof and slip-resistant product to remove large particles from footwear.

The second zone is the vestibule between the exterior and interior doors. Zone two requires a product that has a combination of scraping action and drying fibers to continue to remove medium and large particles while drying footwear. Six to 10 linear feet is the ideal length of zone two, but the size of the vestibule dictates the length of product here.

Zone three is the lobby. This is the largest portion of the entrance system as it should extend at least 10 or more linear feet into the building, across all doors, and cover all traffic directions. Zone three requires a fiber product that dries and captures any remaining fine particles from footwear.

Choose Zone-Appropriate Matting Solutions
Hospitals and healthcare facilities tend to have a high amount of foot traffic and an overhang at the exterior, making deep recessed foot grilles a good choice for their zone one product.

Deep recessed foot grilles provide an aggressive scraping ability, open construction and 1” to 1-1/2” well, which allows debris to be collected in the recess beneath the panels, keeping the surface clean and clear of debris and preventing it from entering the building. In general, foot grilles have six times the dirt-trapping capacity of a fibered surface matting product.

A number of factors should be considered when selecting foot grilles for zone one placement. Hospitals, in particular, should choose heavy-duty foot grilles designed with a rolling load rating that can accommodate heavy medical equipment and gurneys.

As for zone two, there are many foot grille and matting options, including fiber grids, vinyl grids, roll-up mats, and select foot grilles, all of which help scrape and dry footwear, but not all are appropriate for a busy hospital entryway.

Highly durable shallow or deep recessed foot grilles with a combination of scraping and drying features and rolling load ratings of more than 1000 lbs. per wheel accommodate heavier foot traffic, including wheelchairs, making them a good choice for main hospital and healthcare facility entrances and emergency entrances.

In addition to considering the rolling load rating of these zone two products, facilities should also consider how noisy the option is and which product will minimize noise when walked on or rolled across to help create a calmer, more peaceful experience.

Most zone three interior matting solutions are made of nylon or polypropylene so as to provide further debris removal and moisture absorption. Climate is an important factor to consider when selecting the most appropriate matting material. Facilities should also consider foot traffic when selecting zone three matting. The main entrances at hospitals and healthcare facilities have the heaviest traffic volume, so matting with a heavier face and a quality backing is needed to provide greater durability and performance. Another important consideration for zone three is diverging traffic patterns. Medical facilities of all kinds have patients, visitors and staff going in a number of different directions once inside the building, and zone three matting must follow those traffic patterns to a safe conclusion.

Once climate, foot traffic and traffic patterns are well defined, there are countless fiber, pattern, thickness, weight, and color combinations to meet any and all zone three matting needs.

Conduct Preventive Maintenance
Entrance matting is highly effective at removing and trapping dust, dirt, debris and moisture, but leaving those pollutants in the matting allows it to break loose and make its way into facilities, essentially negating the benefits of having matting in the first place. For this reason, environmental services teams should implement a regular matting maintenance program.

Daily vacuuming removes the dust, dirt and debris from both the matting surface and the floor surface beneath the matting. A vacuum with a HEPA (High Efficiency Particle Arresting) filter ensures that even the most microscopic particles, pollutants and allergens are removed and trapped. Bi-weekly, weekly, or monthly hot water extraction, particularly during heavy weather events or when snow melt or salt are in use, provides a deeper level of cleaning that helps remove spots and stains and does a more thorough job of removing trapped fine dirt and pollutants from your matting.

Environmental services teams at hospitals and healthcare facilities are called on 24/7 to handle a vast array of safety and maintenance concerns and crises. With a proper entrance matting system, what comes into the facility when a door opens needn’t be one of them.

JoAnn Durette is vice president of Marketing and Sustainability Research at Mats, Inc., a leading commercial matting and flooring solutions company. To learn more, visit