In the Food and Beverage manufacturing industry, two of the highest priorities are employee safety and food safety. In the world of flooring, these two challenges are in constant conflict. You can throw chemical resistance, abrasion resistance, heavy traffic, thermal resistance at any flooring company and they’ll have a solution, but throw them the battle of slip resistance vs cleanability? You’ll only be left with a couple of half-hearted responses.
The issue is that both are equally important to the company, and both have the potential to cost the company thousands if they are compromised on; decreasing the risk of employee injury, increases the risk of cavities for bacterial growth, and vice versa.
With 86 per cent of total workplace injuries coming from slips and falls, and some 90 per cent of those happening when the floor is wet, the WHS officer has a strong argument to make that a highly slip resistant floor is essential. And naturally, the higher the slip resistance, the lower the risk of a slip, trip or fall.
But on the flip side of the argument, the higher the slip resistance is, the harder the floor is to clean, increasing the potential for bacteria to grow. Bacteria growth on the floor can lead to significant issues with food safety, causing site-wide shutdowns, damaging the company’s reputation, and costing the company thousands each hour that the site is closed.
So now we’ve outlined two sides of the argument, and made it fairly clear that there’s only one lever that effects both, but results in a higher risk either way. And the obvious solution seems to be that we must compromise a little on both.
And over the years we’ve been guilty of that. Having to explain it to the exasperated WHS officer, only to discuss it 10 minutes later with a frustrated QA manager. Both have a point to be made, and both have to be listened to.
So we listened, and thought about our flooring solutions. A typical slip resistant floor has thousands of tiny, uneven bumps to create a rough surface. Having an uneven surface provides a much greater scope for bacteria to grow. Not only that, but a typical epoxy or polyurethane cement floor is only ‘passively’ antimicrobial. This means it doesn’t encourage bacteria growth, but it does nothing to hinder the growth of bacteria.
Over the past 2-3 years, we have been working on antimicrobial technology that we could incorporate into our flooring solutions to reduce the risk of bacteria growth on floors and around drainage. At the start of 2021, we released our SteriFloor solutions. Flooring solutions that are ‘actively’ antimicrobial, meaning the floor actively fights against bacteria growth. This technology is installed in every layer of the floor. So as the floor wears, the antimicrobial activity still remains the same.
This solution has proved itself time and time again to reduce bacteria growth on floors and around drainage. And while we’re excited to see these results continuing to show themselves, our research and development will continue, pursuing scientific studies that no other company ever has.