Dangers sited while visiting a recent food manufacturing factory! We easily get used to something we have over time in that we never give it too much thought. Consider why is it that when you first sit down, you feel the chair on your behind. And, then after some time you don’t seem to feel it anymore. It’s just the initial feeling of the chair and then you just get used to it. This thought came to me recently when I visited a food processing plant a month or so ago.
The concrete stairs had anti-slip stair nosings. Good, I suppose that management was conscious of the need for this safety product. However, on close inspection the antislip protective coating had delaminated. Hence, what I saw was a situation that was far worse. After all, a delaminated anti slip surface on a stair nosing presents a far riskier scenario than no anti slip at all.
Thus, we see here a scenario where the plant workers (and management, as well) take the Stairnosings’ antislip properties for granted. The stair nosings are there, but provide very little protection, in fact, they are even more dangerous.
Antislip stair nosings in food production plants: Delamination
Let’s look at a few points of interest in these plants. First of all, to an insider the need for anti slip protection, especially on the concrete or metal stairs. Consider the work environment of a typical worker in say an abattoir. The areas that person works in are normally wet, with constant washing. They may be wet with detergent or other chemicals, which not only help clean the floor surface, but also makes this slippery. And, then there’s the presence of fat, oils and other animal fluids on the floor. That’s a cocktail that makes slip protection a top priority!
Now, let’s look at what happens when the above material gets on a worker’s boots. Merrily going down a set of stairs without thinking of the danger of delaminated coatings of anti slip stair nosings, what do you think will happen? Yes, no prizes for saying slipping and falling off the stairs, with the damage such an event can cause on the person. This can include bumps, concussions, back injuries and maybe even fractured bones, or worse.
We note that the fat, oil or other foodstuff on the bottom of work boots make the shiny, polished stainless steel more slippery than an ice skating rink. No joke. Thus, there’s a high potential of falls midway on a stairway which can bring long standing trauma and complications to the employee’s life of back injuries and other trauma. As to the employer or management, this often results in a substantial payout, as well as loss of productivity and extra costly training required with new employees.
And, all because the anti slip stair nosings were of an inferior quality. Short term savings if any for longer term costs and other loss.
Antislip stair nosings in food production plants: Stainless Steel
Today, stainless steels are acknowledged for their resistance to corrosion. This property increases with the further addition of chromium. Further, the addition of molybdenum increases corrosion resistance in reducing acids and against pitting attack in chloride solutions. We note that there are numerous grades of stainless steel with varying chromium and molybdenum contents to suit the environment the alloy must endure.
Stainless steel's resistance to corrosion and staining, as well as its low maintenance make it an ideal material for many applications where both the strength of steel and corrosion resistance are required.
We also note that today, it is now common practice to recommend the use of stainless steel Stairnosings for use in abattoirs and food processing plants as there is a less potential for corrosion. We also note that many larger food production companies now stipulate stainless steel anti slip nosings as standard.
One should note that stainless steel has a notable increase of thermal expansion that normal mild steel does not experience. And, when stainless steel Stairnosings are washed down with hot water, as they do in abattoirs, smallgoods and other food processing factories, the high water temperature causes the stainless steel nosing to expand and contract, thermal expansion.
This washing down with hot water, with the resultant effect of the stainless steel nosings expanding and contracting can and does cause an eventual onset and sometimes immediate onset of the anti slip coating delaminating from the stainless steel parent substrate. Note that the parent substrate is the foundation of the nosing. Once delamination occurs, the integrity of the antislip surface and the protection from slip are compromised.
Enter Gripmaster Stainless Steel Stairnosings
Our stair nosings Gripmaster non slip are part of our premium range. Now available in Higher Visible Nano 555 colour these nosings are manufactured on a base of 1.2 mm corrosion resistant Colorbond stainless steel and baked onto self-healing zinc alumina roll stock. Coupled to the foundation is a woven medium which allows for thermal expansion and contraction of the base product. Without this medium, delamination can be expected to occur in harsh environments due to thermal expansion as may occur in a competitive material of lesser quality.
Our top-of-the-line stair nosing grade comes with a 10 year warranty covering delaminating, chemical attack, wear and corrosion when in normal use. All such non slip stair treads/nosings are given a special warranty number should the users have warranty claims in the future. We believe that this is the longest and most comprehensive guarantee for this type of stair nosing.
We also have a slightly lesser quality grade that comes with a five-year warranty. These two grades use silicon carbide as an anti-slip medium. Silicon carbide has a Mohs hardness of 9.2 – 9.5 very close to the unequaled natural hardness qualities of diamond, with a Mohs hardness of 10.
Silicon carbide is a non-wearing crystalline structure. It is very sharp and is the only acceptable product to use on products with a 10 year warranty. We find that in industry Silicon carbide is commonly used as an abrasive. It is also used as a semiconductor and diamond simulant. The simplest process to manufacture silicon carbide is to combine silica sand and carbon in a graphic furnace at a high temperature, between 1,600 °C and 2,500 °C. Silicon Carbide is also known as Carborundum and moissanite, a naturally occurring mineral. Interestingly, this is also used in the manufacture of different materials including LEDs and bulletproof vests.
Extending the life of deteriorated concrete stairs with Gripmaster
Gripmaster stainless steel anti slip stair nosings is used on new concrete and can be used to extend the life of older concrete steps that have deteriorated. We note that the steps of these stairs if frayed, should at least be sound in structure.
Where this is concern that concrete will crumble if put under too much stress, especially in older plant, we need to consider the possibility of the concrete edge failing when drilling holes into it, to install Gripmaster.
For concrete steps, we suggest the use of Sikaflex 291 when installing stainless steel nosings or galvanised nosings especially in food processing areas. A bead of Sikaflex around the underside about 15mm in from the edge, a bead through the middle longways on the underside, then push the stairnosing onto the concrete step. This will seal the underneath of the stair nosing and stop any moisture getting in underneath. Being that most concrete steps are not dead flat, the Sikaflex adhesive will help float the stair nosing so no undue pressure is used if installing with screws into the concrete.
In newer concrete steps, if installed onto the concrete with screws and pulled down tight, it’s possible that the nosing will be stressed causing an onset of delamination to occur. If your planning on installing anti slip nosings on concrete steps, we strongly advise against screwing down unless the concrete surface is perfectly flat. If unsure, always purchase the 10 year warranty for peace of mind
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