In practice good floor care should be practised all year round but the evidence suggests that floor neglect is perennial. Budgets are often not realistically adequate and when repairs clearly need doing there is a temptation to postpone them. Usual excuses trotted out are: no time for repairs, inadequate maintenance staff, not a corporate priority, no money in the budget, and intolerance to dust and noise during repairs.

The risks of such insouciance, however, can be very high, especially when floor neglect directly links to serious accidents and injuries. Well-kept floors leave good impressions with visiting customers; neglected floors don’t.

Floor care could be broken down into three issues: safety, cleanliness and repairs. But achieving a high score on all three involves many inputs and snares for the unwary. Early on it is the environment that will shape the choice and degree of surface coatings. Slip resistance, or lack of it, is a major safety issue and so it is important to make sure that the right level of slip resistance is applied to suit the working environment. Resin is a good choice for finish owing to its good seamless and therefore hygienic finishes, but only if laid correctly. Flooring installers, therefore, must be fully conversant with your compliance standards.

Signs and lines are another aspect of floor safety, especially when forklifts and pedestrians work in close proximity. Floor markings, which can be either tapes or paints, should clearly identify walkways, traffic routes, ‘keep clear’ zones, hazardous areas and product storage areas, as required by law.

Line marking paint is probably a better choice for permanent areas such as loading areas or pedestrian walkways. But where space is more fluid, in the sense of regularly moving interfacing equipment around, then floor marking tape would be a better choice.

Repairs, if neglected, can be a big cost issue and also has safety implications. When planning new installations good planning is essential, and this includes a robust selection process for the installer because their work quality can vary widely. Adequate soil testing and proper earth compaction to prevent subsequent floor dishing could save a lot of disruption and costs later on, though the latest remedial techniques, like floor foam injection from Geobear, formerly Uretek, are far less costly than remedial pile-driving.

Undoubtedly, the biggest cause of warehouse floor problems is crumbling joints caused largely by heavy forklift traffic. Although usually made from tough concrete slabs, the material quality can vary so it is important to deal only with long-established firms with a good track record. Useful advice can be had from the Association of Concrete Industrial Flooring Contractors.

The problem of crumbing joints, which can also have serious hygiene implications in food environments, can be much reduced by choosing a ‘jointless’ slab rather than a traditional slab type. The former has many sawn-induced joints every six metres or so but the ‘jointless’ slab will have metal armoured construction joints every 40 or 50 metres. The ‘jointless’ slabs will not only mean lower floor maintenance costs but also lower damage costs to MHE and higher truck productivity. So an appealing, safe, low maintenance, hygienic floor is a well-chosen and cared for floor.