Safe flooring for dairy factories

According to the Australian Department of Agriculture, the country’s dairy industry accounted for $4.4 billion of Australia’s gross value of agricultural production and around seven per cent of the country’s export income. It has a reputation for producing good quality products that are in huge demand around the world.

In order to keep this reputation intact, the factories where food and beverages are produced have to adopt clean and safe working environments. Not only for the sake of the products themselves, but for the workers, too.

A key area of any factory is its floor space. The ever-demanding world of cheese and dairy manufacturing offer tough conditions for flooring in most facilities that produce and process the products. Typically, with the producers of milk and milk ingredients such as cheese, ice cream, butter, cream and yogurt, face a common challenge with concrete corrosion, as well as dangerous, damp and wet conditions, which are compounded by heavy impact traffic.

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Dairy processing floors are exposed to aggressive acids and alkaline chemical cleaners, including Clean in Place (CIP) chemicals. Heavy-duty, epoxy-trowelled flooring from a company such as Roxset Health and Safety Floor Coatings handles a range of corrosive acids. This includes nitric and phosphoric acid typically found in processing and chemical storage areas. Milk and other ingredients break down on the floor, forming acidic by-products that can also damage the concrete. It is critical that companies protect their concrete from oils and chemical deterioration, while handling impact, abrasion and thermal cycling.

There are strict regulations in the dairy industry, which are required in order to meet Food Standards Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (FSC) Standard 4.2.4. This is a primary standard that dairy farms must adhere to and follow assiduously. Food Standards Australia New Zealand, Standard 3.2.2 – Food Safety Practices and General Requirements states: “Floors must be designed and constructed in a way that is appropriate for the activities conducted on the food premises”.

When the facility gets wet, which is common in dairy production, it can lead to serious slip issues. This can escalate into expensive lawsuits if care and caution are not taken. It is critical that an anti-slip HACCP complaint aggregate is built into the full thickness of the floor. The profile of this would typically be between 6-10mm for maximum protection. Drains are important in tackling slip hazards where is it important to contour the falls with the correct anti-slip aggregates. It is these types of considerations that Roxset looks into when laying down epoxy flooring at factories that specialise in dairy products.

A dairy facility floor is also challenged by extremes, like cold conditions in the coolers and warm conditions in the processing raw milk and intake side.

This is where a potential for thermal shock and thermal cycling in the floor can occur leading to damage. A heavy-duty non-toxic HACCP epoxy coating from a company like Roxset will be sensitive to any shock. However, it can also handle very hot wash downs, which are also needed in order to keep a factory in excellent condition.