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Preventing slips, trips and falls in the food industry.

The food processing industry is recognised as being one of the most hazardous industries in Britain. A major contributing factor is the number of slip accidents in food production environments. Accidents cost money: in compensation, sickness pay, lost production and the management time spent investigating and dealing with every slip accident.

In 1999 MBT Ucrete (part of the Construction Chemicals Division of Degussa) undertook a review of floors and working environment at a number of factories operating in the food industry in order to assess the various influences affecting the risk of slip incidents. The main influences are summarised below.

1) Working Practices

Clusters of slip accidents often occur where the floor seems satisfactory. These slips may be the result of an action that operatives do as a routine part of their work leaning or stretching to reach something for example. Where practicable modifying the procedures can reduce the frequency of slips.

2) Engineering

Some slip black spots are often linked to contamination products or materials falling on to the floor. While some spillage may be inevitable, where it is excessive an engineering solution may offer an effective remedy.

3) Floor Design

Free draining floors may not always do so. Spillages containing fine animal and vegetable matter can stop floors from draining freely. Even steeply sloped floors can become covered with a film of debris, making them slippery. Pushing racks or bins in these conditions increases the likelihood of an accident. The reduction of gradients and simpler fall patterns can produce a safer environment.

4) Footwear

The hardness of shoe-sole rubber and the tread pattern affects traction. Footwear should be regularly cleaned and replaced as required.

5) Cleaning

No matter how rough the floor, if it is not cleaned it will become slippery. Generally, industry standard scrubber drying machines are effective in maintaining floors in a safe condition.

6) Floor finishes

MBT Ucrete has evaluated what makes a good food industry floor.

The food industry has a number of flooring serviceability requirements. They should be non-porous and easy to clean. They must survive heavy traffic, high temperatures, fats and organic acids as well as the cleaning regime. They should contribute to a pleasant, safe and efficient working environment. Since production schedules often restrict access time for maintenance activities and production shut downs are increasingly expensive and unacceptable, the floor finish needs to be extremely durable.

Our survey of floors in situ produced a number of general observations on the slip resistance performance of various types of finishes used in the food industry.

a) The most slippery floors were those where a seal coat was used to produce a hygienic surface but ineffective surface texture resulted

b) Resin-rich Heavy Duty Polyurethane toppings applied at a thickness of 6-9 mm in a surface seal coat generally produced good results. Even older floors examined and subject to heavy hard-wheeled traffic still produced satisfactory slip resistance in the wet when cleaned and degreased correctly.

c) In comparison, floors relying on an aggregate scatter to provide slip resistance were found to lose slip resistance quickly, especially when trafficked by hard plastic or steel wheeled trolleys, bins and tray racks. This is because the load is often supported by a single piece of aggregate and the forces involved can easily exceed aggregate crushing strengths. This was found to been particularly evident where quartz or silica sands are used to provide the texture.

The recongnition of the general principles has led to the development of UCRETE[R] UD200 SR for use in areas subject to high levels of contamination and/ or where slip resistance is a critical requirement. URETE[R] UD200 SR is installed in a single application to produce a homogeneous floor with surface texture is provided by a robust and durable aggregate distributed throughout a polyurethane resin matrix. The consistency of the surface texture is maintained by detailed composition formulation, manufacture under tight quality control and installation by expert specialist UCRETE[R] contractors who are licensed by the manufacturer.

Site experience shows that this type of macro texture is still readily cleaned using industry standard equipment.

Typically the coefficient of friction in the wet using the TRL pendulum tester, as referred to in the HSE document, Food Sheet No 22, is in the range 50 - 70.

Accelerated wear testing using a steel wheel loaded to 200 N/mm2 indicates that the UCRETE[R] UD200 SR will maintain its enhanced texture for many years.


Due to the nature of the work in the food processing industry slip incidents are recognised as an increasingly important safety issue. However simply installing rougher floors is not an answer since this is likely to unacceptably compromise vital and essential hygiene and possibly aesthetic requirements.

In addition, the hard wheels of pallet trucks, tray racks and bins used in the food industry can rapidly wear a harsh texture with the result of reduced slip resistance.

When considering flooring and slip: footwear materials, working procedures, practices, engineering and design as well as cleaning regimes must all be consider.

A balance between floor roughness and ease of cleaning provides a practical approach and contribution to the minimisation of slips, trips and falls in the food industry.


HSE information sheet, Preventing slips in the food and drink - technical update on floor specifications. Food Sheet No 2. HSE Books, PO Box 1999, Sudbury, Suffolk CO10 6FS

The Measurement of Floor Slip Resistance: Guidelines Recommended by the UK Slip Resistance Group 1996 RAPRA Technology Ltd., Shawbury, Shropshire SY44NR


The World's Toughest Floor

UCRETE[R] is the original polyurethane concrete, developed more than 25 years ago in Europe as the answer to the most demanding environments in industry. UCRETE [R] is recognised internationally as meeting the most rigorous requirements of industry for sustained performance.

Thousands of satisfied multinational and local clients and specifiers throughout the world and across industries attest to UCRETE [R] ability to provide long-term, problem-free and, therefore, cost-effective protection to floors in the most difficult conditions.

Just some of the advantage of using UCRETE [R]...

Solvent free and low odour. Non tainting and as cleanable as stainless steel as tested by Campden & Chorleywood Food Research Association.

Substrate moisture tolerant and rapid curing, facilitating the maintenance of tight construction schedules and refurbishment programmes.

Fully serviceable to 120[degrees]C when installed at minimum 9 mm thickness.

Excellent resistance to the organic acids, fats and cleaning chemicals that will degrade other types of flooring. UCRETE [R] is used to line drains, bunds and sumps as well as floors helping to ensure containment and protect the environment.

For more information, contact MBT UCRETE [R]: To Broad Ground Road, Lakeside, Redditch Worcestershire, B98 8YP Tel: 01527 505103, Fax: 01527 510299

Slip Resistance from UCRETE[R]

When specifying an industrial floor the degree of slip resistance needed must be carefully considered, and the long-term performance of the flooring material against the anticipated traffic should discussed with the material manufacturer. Well designed and formulated products from leading manufacturers will meet all the demands of the food processing industry, however not all systems will provide the same long-term performance.

The UCRETE[R] MF, UD200 & UD200SR grades provide floors with a range of surface profiles, from smooth to slip resistant macro textured, which balance the various requirements for slip resistance and ease of cleaning. All are robust enough to maintain their slip resistant characteristics even when subject to the aggressive hard wheeled traffic often found in a food factory. All are non-porous and can be easily maintained to the highest hygiene standards with the appropriate cleaning regime.
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Publication:Food Trade Review
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 1, 2002
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