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Flooring: Reducing the risk of slips

08 September 2014

To ensure a safe and productive working environment within an industrial facility it is important to reduce the risk of liquids and spillages turning into on-site slip hazards that could lead to painful and costly accidents. Flowcrete Group explains how appropriate flooring can play its part.

Flooring solutions can minimise the risk of slips, but it is important to choose the right system for each site – as the anti-slip requirements of a large-scale dairy that has to cope with large quantities of water and dung will significantly differ to a facility such as an aircraft hangar, which needs to be concerned about specific substances like hydraulic fluids and aviation fuel. 

The level of slipperiness may also not be the same across a single industrial complex, as areas will require more or less safety measures depending on the nature of the work and the building design. For example if there is a section of the building where people will walk in from outside then the water that will be brought in with them on rainy days needs to be considered.  

Resin systems that have an adjustable anti-slip profile are an effective way of meeting the specific demands encountered in each area of a facility. This flexibility stems from the fact that when installing these types of floors it is possible to vary the type and quantity of graded aggregates in the resin material.

This slip resistant coating can be created in several ways and is usually achieved by laying the aggregates between coats, building them into the resin matrix or scattering them onto the surface of the floor. These techniques can effectively achieve a finish with a low or extremely low slip potential as rated by the United Kingdom Slip Resistance Group (UKSRG).

Depending on the non-slip finish that the site needs, the aggregates used within the resin floor can range from various grades of quartz to aluminium oxide, glass spheres or silicon carbide. The quantity of aggregates can be increased or decreased according to the amount of traction that will be required.

When determining a floor’s anti-slip profile it is important to consider the facility’s cleaning regime, as coarsely textured finishes are harder to clean than smoother surfaces. For facilities where both heavy slip resistance and ease of cleaning are critical it becomes a case of balancing these two factors.    

Alongside enhancing the level of grip there are a variety of other ways that a facility can reduce the risk of slips through its floor design. Automotive manufacturers for example will be aware that the oils and greases used everyday will inevitably spill onto the floor, and that the viscous nature of these fluids means that they are a health and safety issue.

Seamless floors can help to quickly clear away such spillages before they can become a hazard, as floors laid in this manner are easy to clean and help to ensure that dangerous substances are efficiently removed from the working environment.

Textured resin floors can be laid to a fall to help create an efficient drainage system that prevents the pooling of water, which can be both a serious slip risk and a hygiene concern. 

Many manufacturers have also installed brightly coloured floors to clearly show up the stains and spillages that would otherwise blend into the background of a dark surface.

To maintain a seamless and colourful finish within an industrial space it is important that the specified solution is sufficiently robust and chemically resistant to withstand the on-site activity. If the chosen system is not able to cope with frequent foot and forklift traffic, exposure to harsh industrial chemicals, hot water cleans and the physical impacts of heavy equipment and tools then the site risks not only dull and lifeless colours but cracks and floor failures that could create trip hazards and lead to unwanted refurbishment downtime. 

Bearing these points in mind when discussing the finish with the floor supplier will help to make sure that the end result meets the demands of the plant. Once the floor has been installed its slipperiness can be tested with a swinging pendulum tester to ascertain if the slip resistance of the final finish is up to the challenge.