Much has been written on forklift safety in warehouses but far less has been said on another key warehouse safety issue, namely flooring, which if neglected can seriously impact forklift safety, productivity and pedestrian accidents. Additionally, there is a hygiene issue, of particularly sensitive concern to food and pharma businesses. What all this means is that budgets for floor care should be adequate but the reality is that such budgets are often woefully inadequate. Hardly surprising, then, that 29% of non-fatal injuries on the same floor level in 2016/2017 were caused by a slip, trip or fall.

In the struggle to make floors safer, lines and signs play a key role, and can even be useful after an accident, like steering injured staff quickly to first aid kits, fire extinguishers and emergency eye wash stations. The markings are usually floor paint and tapes but sometimes time-consuming painting can be cut sharply by using graphic floor markers like those from Beaverswood. These highly visible markers are designed to highlight warnings for special requirements and can be placed on walls provided they are clean, flat and dry surfaces, and special designs can be made to suit customers’ specific needs.

All concreate floors have joints and because they can be a major source of operational impairment through crumbling issues the fewer there are the better, which is where ‘jointless’ floor slab techniques prove their worth. Unlike the traditional concrete floor slab techniques that involve many sawninduced joints every six metres or so, the ‘jointless’ kind will have metal armoured construction joints every 40 or 50 mts. Remedies for repairing crumbling joints vary but among the best, most durable are the metal armoured options. A recent improvement here is the Sine Wave armoured joints from RCR who produce the Permaban Wave armoured joints, named for their distinctive, wave-shapes top plate. Its triple-curved design allows vehicle wheels to run smoothly across the edges of the plate, not just the centre. The traditional, straight, armoured joints allow MHE vehicle wheels to drop momentarily into the joints’ parallel edges, which can cause impact damage to vehicles and floors. Such impacts cannot occur with a shaped joint.

Some of the worst floor nightmares are best prevented at the planning stage for a new warehouse and this is where the importance of choosing a good floor installer comes in, because this industry aspect, if neglected, can be very costly. There should be adequate soil testing and good earth compaction before any concrete slab is laid. If, however, looking for increased floor load on an existing slab then groundpenetrating radar could be useful for detecting sub-soil voids, which if extant can be rectified with foam injection techniques, like those from Geobear (formerly Uretek). Likewise, if moving from wide-aisle storage to very narrow aisle (VNA) then floor flatness tests should be done to see if the floors are flat enough to prevent truck mast collisions with racking. If too uneven, then flatness remedies include screeding or laser grinding, better done before the change to VNA than after.

Floor surface applications are almost a science in itself. The application, particularly in manufacturing areas, will be defined by the nature of the business. Where, for example, hazardous materials are being used then an anti-static ingredient in the surface coating may be essential. Surfaces that are subject to fluids should have antislip properties and be easy to clean. This is where resin surfaces play an important role. They can be varied to the environment, specific conditions of which each have a set of safety regulations to satisfy. But as when choosing a reputable floor installer, be sure your applicator is fully conversant with your compliance standards.