Water pooling on the plant floor is not just a food safety concern. It also creates slippery floors and stairwells, causes plant traffic to spread moisture and creates pedestrian hazards in other sections of the plant.
“;Floors should have a quarter-inch per foot of slope,” says Roland “;Lefty” Leavens, vice president of food processing systems for Food Facility Engineering (www.foodfacility.com), Yakima, Wash. “;That used to be a USDA requirement. Today it has been changed to a Good Manufacturing Practice and the requirement is simply that the floor ‘must drain.’ If the slope is 3/16-inch instead of ¼-inch, it is still OK. The important thing is that the floor drains.”
The products run in the plant should largely determine floor material. What kind of cleaning materials will be used? Does the floor need to be chemical-resistant? Will the floor material be subjected to sugars or acids?
One response to slippery grates, steps, floor plates, catwalks, metal ladders and stairwells is SlipNOT®Metal Safety Flooring products. The Detroit-based firm applies its patented super-hard molten metal alloy plasma stream deposition at over 4000 psi to the surface of aluminum, stainless steel, galvanized steel and other steel materials subjected to plant foot traffic. The “;random hatch matrix surface” results in a hardness of better than 55 on the Rockwell “;C” scale, providing slip-resistance and durability. The material – available in fine, medium and coarse grades – exceeds OSHA and NFPA safety requirements. USDA and FDA have approved the material for incidental food contact.
“;A lot of food plants are using SlipNOT® now,” says sales rep Jeff Baker, who includes Campbell Soup among its oldest and most satisfied customers. Its customer base includes frozen food manufacturers, cheese makers, poultry operations, slaughterhouses and a wide range of processed food segments.
SlipNOT® slip resistant materials provide sure footing even under wet or oily conditions. “;The material is like walking on sandpaper,” says the plant manager of a dairy product plant in Wisconsin, who asked that his plant not be identified. “;Yet it is not so rough that it poses a tripping hazard. We have had no accidents – no slips or falls – since it was installed.”
He also notes that the material cleans easily with a high-pressure hose and, with good ventilation, dries quickly.
The product line includes plates, ladder rungs, grates, stair tread and landing flats. But the company also customizes materials for plant space and specific application.