Educators are always telling students to stop running in the halls, but the directive has a purpose other than wrecking some between-class fun. Student safety is of utmost concern at schools from pre-K through the college and university level, and proper floor care is essential for getting a high grade in maintenance and liability prevention.

It may seem as though floor care involves a simple broom and mop, but in fact, keeping school floor surfaces clean and safe, and extending the life of costly flooring materials and other assets, requires some specific knowledge.

Some helpful suggestions can educate school facility managers about floor care and maintenance. These ABCs of floor care include:

•Always clean. Facility managers should make sure they use only solutions that are appropriate for the floor material they are cleaning and that they read the manufacturer instructions to be certain they are mixing and applying the solution properly. Remember to look for sustainable cleaning solutions that not only are more healthful for students and maintenance staff, but also fit into tight school budgets.

Other tips to keep in mind: Spills on the floor should be wiped with an absorbent cloth immediately. One of the best methods for protecting floor surfaces is to use floor mats at each entrance that are designed specially to capture moisture and debris that can be tracked inside on shoes.

•Be mindful of safety and liability. Slips and falls may cause serious injury. Managers and custodians can take several precautions to reduce liability with regard to flooring. Educate school administrators and teaching and maintenance staff about potential floor hazards and ask them to report spills, floor damage or other safety concerns immediately.

It would be even more beneficial to assign someone on the maintenance staff to be responsible for checking all floor surfaces for potential dangers on a daily basis. Proper lighting in all areas of a school facility also is key to prevent slips and falls.

•Flooring may have a negative impact on school computers and handheld devices that are used for learning. Electrostatic discharges (ESD) can shock students and staff when they walk across the floor and touch something, and can be transferred to computer devices from the floor easily.

Costly damages can be prevented by using conductive flooring material or by applying several coats of an ESD-preventing finish solution to the existing floor of the computer lab, library or classroom. Once the floor protection is applied, special care must be taken with daily and weekly cleaning to ensure the effectiveness of the solution.

Another option is the use of special mats, floor paint or tiles that help prevent electrical shocks to computers.

By Staples Advantage, Facilities Solutions, Framingham, Mass.

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