Floors may look deceptively simple, requiring little attention because, after all, most are made from concrete and given their apparent indestructability why bother with them much? This may be one of the reasons why most business owners tend to overlook the care and maintenance of industrial floors, until, that is, a lack of cleanliness affects overall productivity or causes serious injuries.

A slippery floor in the UK and US is considered among the top three major causes of accidents in the warehouse, so there is no room for complacency about floors, whether it’s cleaning, repair or safety issues.

Concrete floors are not indestructible and harbour many potential problems so if you are insouciant over floor issues then think again before your facilities budget is blown wide apart by costly floor remedies.

The science of floor care is more complex than it may seem, not only because it has many interface issues but also because even when installing new ones the job can be badly done and compromised by sub-standard materials, leading to an early, complete replacement, a very costly business. Longer term problems can arise over crumbling floor joints because, for example, a “jointless” floor was not chosen in preference to traditional floors with many sawn-cut joints. This is why it is crucial to be ultra-careful in one’s choice of floor contractor, because there is considerable variation in work standards. As part of your armoury against initial foul-ups, why not obtain guidance on floor slab problems and how best to address them from the Association of Concrete Industrial Flooring contractors (AFIFC)?

Floor cleaning issues are not without some complexity and hazards either. In certain installations, like food production, much greater attention is placed on hygiene issues and safety because, for example, floors could be frequently wet and so effective, anti-slip floor coatings should be in place. A popular floor treatment is seamless resin floor coating which offers chemical protection as well as anti-slip and anti-static qualities. The more durable ones, like those from RSL, can give 10 years of protection. Care is also needed to avoid slips caused by excessive use or wrong application of floor wax. Ensure the right scrubbing pads on scrubbers because otherwise they can make scratching worse. If scuff-like floor marks caused by forklift wheels is a problem, one solution could be non-marking tyres. Otherwise, a powered floor scrubber/drier would be needed for the stubborn tyre marks.

On occasions when a change in racking layout is required to take advantage of wide aisles to bring in more pallet positions, a fresh look at the floor may be needed because floor flatness could be a problem. This is where specialists like the Cogri Group can help with their profileographs and laser-guided grinding machines. Uneven and badly-potholed floors can force lower speeds on forklifts, thus affecting productivity, or mast collisions with the racking. A few millimetres of unevenness at floor level can be magnified 10-fold when handling loads above 10 mt high. An alternative to laser grinding is floor screeding.

When making such a racking layout change it may be advisable to use ground penetrating radar to see if any sub soil conditions are poor and likely to cause floor dishing problems when higher, more concentrated loads are imposed. Detecting sub soil voids at the beginning makes better sense than after new racking has gone up. Fortunately, foam injection techniques like those from Geobear, formerly Uretek, make this problem much easier and cheaper to deal with.