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Slippery floor nightmares in commercial kitchens

Supplier: Global Safe Technologies
11 April, 2008

How do I solve the Nightmare of Slippery floors in My Commercial Kitchen? Commercial kitchen owners and managers generally face slippery floor issues in their kitchens.

This is especially evident when the surface is tiled and the contamination is caused by oil. Staff in most instances, do not have time during the shift to clean up the spills immediately, which means that the oil is carried on shoes to other parts of the kitchen. This then makes the whole floor a slip and fall accident waiting to happen. Latest available statistics* show that slip and fall on the same level are still a leading cause - 1230 cases which represents 79.1 percent  in 2004 / 2005 year - of all of claims in the Slips Trips and Falls injuries in the hospitality industry.

Once the risk has been identified the manager tries to solve the issue asking staff to wear suitable anti slip shoes, using mats, anti slip treatments and some extreme cases resurfacing the entire kitchen which is a very costly exercise and depending on the solution may only provide a safe floor for a short term.

Some remedial treatment companies offer chemical treatments for tiled surfaces – virtually all acid based etching – which are usually very short term solutions and may only be effective when the contamination is solely water. If oil contaminates the surface and is not immediately cleaned up, the treatment is rendered totally useless. These chemical treatments do not on the whole etch into the surface, to a depth suitable to displace oil. (70 µm -  micron)

The UK HSE specifies the following surface roughness required for adequate slip resistance for various contaminants 

       Minimum roughness (Rz)          Contaminant
                    20 µm                         Clean water, coffee, soft drinks
                    45 µm                         Soap solution, milk
                    60 µm                         Cooking stock
                    70 µm                         Motor oil, olive oil
         Above 70 µm                         Gear oil, margarine Contaminant

To achieve the required surface roughness you will need to consider either a coating solution or anti slip strips. The coating could be either polyurethane or epoxy based, with aggregate. To ensure that you will get the right solution for your environment, ask for an independent slip resistance test result of the proposed coating as well as an accelerated wear test result. This will ascertain how long the solution is going to last. Some coatings will become ineffective within a year or within months and then client faces having to have the floor resurfaced. This is a time consuming and costly exercise that can also result in having to close the kitchen for a period of time – therefore the possibility of lost income and unhappy clients. 

Anti slip strips are only offered by a very limited number of companies. This solution can be very effective and long lasting. Our advice is to still ask for an independent slip resistance test and an accelerated wear test to have a realistic picture how long the proposed solution is expected to last.

Other important factors to consider when strips applied are;
• Width of the strip and the gap between strips. Strips should be at least 50mm wide, but can be wider. The gap between the strips should not be more than 100mm and it might even be more prudent to consider 75mm or even 50mm gaps.
• Strips are placed into the way of the main traffic. This could require that the strips be placed in an angle.
• Strips are covering not only the directly contaminant exposed surfaces, but also areas where the contaminant can be carried over. For example while in the kitchen the most likely place for oil contaminant is in front of the main cooking area, the oil on the shoe will be carried over to the washing areas, serving area and even to cool rooms. It is also important that the slip resistance of the adjoining areas would be close to each other, otherwise a nasty surprise will await the person when moving at high speed with hands full from one area to another expecting the same slip resistance.

Obviously the proper and regular cleaning and maintenance of the floor is another important subject to ensure that the anti slip floor will remain slip resistant for an extended period of time. 

Global Safe Technologies have sucessfully completed Safe Grip work in several restaurants and kitchens where previous anti slip treatments proved to be ineffective. They have a solution for nearly all floor surfaces.

Another important factor to consider is whether the company offers any staff training in cleaning and maintenance, or an ongoing monitoring service for the floor surface.

Global Safe Technologies caters for this aspect and offers at No Additional Cost its industry unique risk management program called the Floor Safety Maintenance Program©.

For further information on the Global Safe Technologies Australia’s non slip solutions range of products in Australia call us on the toll free number 1300 668 620 or visit our website www.globalsafe.com.au/index.php#solution 

•  Source: The ASCC Online Statistics Interactive National Workers' Compensation Statistics Databases.
**Source: Assessing the slip resistance of flooring UK HSE article