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Chris Budd, Head of Technical Solutions at Watco, gives tips and advice on preventing slips and trips in the food industry

The single largest manufacturing sector in the UK in terms of turnover, the food industry now has more than 7,700 companies representing more than 400,000 employees, and is subject to strict regulations in terms of hygiene as well as employee safety.

In the food sector, trips and falls are a major cause of accidents representing about 35% of ‘major’ injuries in the food and drink industries. The culprit: flooring that with wear, time and activity (greasy liquid waste, wet floors) can become slippery and unsuitable for the protection of employees. The choice of suitable coating is therefore essential: falls can have dramatic consequences on the wellbeing of employees.

While floor coatings are of great importance for the safety of people, time constraints that building owners regularly face bring them to ignore the exposure time required for drying and the quality of coating. In addition, the food industry uses very smooth floors, supposedly more easily cleaned but more dangerous when one is aware of the danger that sharp objects impose when handled by employees on such smooth surfaces.

However, the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 states that: “it shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far

as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.” In summary, the employer must combat risks at source and take collective rather than individual measures.

The causes of accidents vary. They may be related to the physical environment surrounding the employee (dangerous equipment, lack of space) or his psychological state (anxiety, stress etc.). All these factors on top of dangerous floors increase the risk of accidents at work.

To avoid such accidents and to comply with the regulations, it is necessary to provide a reliable floor coating that is durable and highly slip resistant. Watco has implemented a range of specific products (anti slip food paints, anti-slip tape etc.) that are adapted to areas where food is prepared.

Self-adhesive and easy to install, Watco anti-slip kitchen safety tape is a cushioned, non-abrasive tape, ideal for food preparation areas, canteens and kitchens. It provides excellent anti-slip properties, and has high water resistance as the adhesive used is not aqueous and therefore will not readily break down in water. The upper surface is also impermeable by water and the tape is highly flexible, making it easy to bend around 90° fractures.

The Food Standards Agency states that the floor surfaces must be:

• Maintained in a sound condition and be easy to clean and, where necessary, to disinfect.

• Made of materials that are impervious, non-absorbent, washable and non-toxic, unless you can satisfy your local authority that other materials are appropriate.

• Where appropriate, floors must allow adequate surface drainage.

A non-slip epoxy floor paint, such as the Watco Safety Grip, can be used on most surfaces and offers an unrivalled grip even on wet or oily surfaces thanks to its highly non slip finish. It can be applied even where underfloor heating is used.

In kitchen and storage areas Watco Food Safe Coating Anti Slip is a two-component paint based on polyaspartic resin with the ability to withstand heavy traffic and protect floors. It also meets the stringent health requirements (tested EN71) while providing excellent chemical resistance. It can be applied at temperatures ranging from -10 to 30°C. Unlike other anti-slip paints, Watco’s is easy to clean, even with a mop. 20 | COMMERCIAL KITCHENS & FOOD PREPARATION

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