Stripping a floor to improve its appearance and minimize scuffs, scratches and other damage must be done from time to time. However, many floor stripping chemicals are toxic and pose serious threats to human health if not used safely. Wiping dirty shoes on a mat and vacuuming floors regularly can limit the need for stripping, lessening the chances of injury from chemical exposure at the same time.
When stripping a floor, small knives must be used for intricate detailing works in corners and other crannies. A careless slip can lead to a cut from a razor knife or a putty knife, so iCleaning Specialist suggests wearing a pair of cut-resistant gloves under rubber gloves to protect the hands from stripping chemicals and dangerous work tools. Detail work also means spending a lot of time on your knees, working slowly and methodically, so wear hard plastic kneepads for support and protection.
Stripping chemicals are harsh enough to damage vision within seconds of making contact with eyes. To prevent injury, OSHA requires the presence of a 15-minute full-flow eye wash station for employees working with stripping chemicals, and DIY home repairmen should also take precautions. Wear protective goggles to keep eyes safe from splashes and fumes, and contact medical professionals immediately in the event of an accident. Also, pour stripping chemicals slowly and carefully to prevent splashes.
An errant spill or splash can lead to contact between exposed skin and floor stripping chemicals, leading to a host of health concerns. Many floor stripping products are caustic enough to cause painful chemical burns, which take just seconds to develop, according to the Janitorial Products Pollution Prevention Project. Thoroughly rinse affected areas with water before seeking medical attention. Also, some stripping chemicals, like butoxyethanol, are absorbed through the skin but are so strong they damage internal organs like the liver and kidneys.
The fumes released by floor stripping chemicals are toxic, inducing a variety of health complaints and making the use of protective masks and proper ventilation imperative. Inhaling floor stripping fumes may cause dizziness, nausea, headaches, chest pains and coughing, according to Cleaning Pro. Exposure to products containing ammonia in particular may cause severe damage to the respiratory tract in addition to heart palpitations and difficulty breathing. If experiencing any such symptoms after working with floor strippers, seek medical help immediately.
Hallie Engel is a food and lifestyle writer whose work has appeared in several international publications. She served as a restaurant critic for "Time Out Abu Dhabi" and "Time Out Amsterdam" and has also written about food culture in the United Arab Emirates for "M Magazine." She holds a bachelor's degree in communications and film studies from University of Amsterdam.