Preventing Workplace Mishaps in the Food Industry

Slips, trips and falls are the most common injuries sustained by food service workers. A lot of these mishaps arise from the wrong choice of flooring used in their workplaces. Ramachandra Devaguptapu, Regional Product Segment Manager, BASF Construction Chemicals Asia Pacific, offers some useful advice on picking the right flooring to prevent accidents and related damages.

Food service workers are particularly prone to occupational accidents involving slips, trips and falls at the workplace. This is unsurprising considering the multiple hazardous activities carried out at F&B facilities, from commercial kitchens to food-processing areas, round the clock. For example, it is common for spillage to occur, making the floorings damp and slippery. Regular cleaning of the spills may affect the ongoing operations or leave the floors wet, again posing a slip hazard.

According to the Australian Workers' Compensation Statistics Report 2016-17, slips, trips and falls accounted for 24% of workplace accidents during the review period, costing employers AUD$11,500 (about USD 8267) in compensation claim for every employee injured at work.

Flooring hazard

One of the biggest hazards is flooring. Many food employees have tripped over the rubber mats that are placed on the work floors to reduce slips, trips and falls, ironically making the mats themselves the actual hazard. Most often, these mats are poorly maintained. If the floor gets wet, the mats slide around and would soon lose the ability to grip the floor. Using certain cleaning products on them only accelerates the deterioration process. Failure to prevent workplace injuries can lead to litigation and financial losses for employers, especially when there are insufficient safety features in place. Other possible repercussions include a high staff turnover, low employee morale and damaged business reputation.

Slip resistance

Installing a flooring system with slip resistant properties is fundamental to ensure work safety in a F& B environment. One system that works excellently in this aspect is Ucrete industrial flooring, a family of heavy-duty resin systems from BASF designed for the food industry. In wet process areas, floors are often laid to allow water and liquid spillages to flow to drain. As the choice of smooth or textured floors for these areas is not always clear-cut, Ucrete is offered in a range of surface profiles to allow customization for the type of slip resistance required.

Preventing falls and trips

Durable flooring is necessary to reduce the chances of peeling and cracking with prolonged use, which may cause users to trip and fall. The tougher the flooring, the more durable it is likely to be, reducing the need for repair and replacement. As the world's toughest industrial flooring, Ucrete withstands heavy impact with high energy absorption capacity to prevent cracks, hence preventing trips and falls.

Compliance needs

Food and beverage manufacturers must comply with global hygiene standards, such as International Food Standard (IFS), Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems and the Eurofins IAC Gold Certification criteria, forcing them to have regular wet and hot cleaning leading to increased risk for workplace safety. This calls for a tough floor withstanding hot water / steam cleaning combined with slip resistant profiles.

In addition, F&B business operators are best advised to comply with two widely-used standards measuring the slip resistance of workplace flooring - DIN Standard Ramp Testing and the Pendulum Test – to provide a safe environment for their staff to work in.

 

Please consult a BASF expert for further details.