Health & Safety Always At The Forefront
Paul Rogers, technical specification manager at Forbo Flooring Systems, looks at the issue of health & safety:
HEALTH and safety within the food preparation industry is of paramount importance and flooring plays a vital role in ensuring safety requirements are met.
With spillages, hot surfaces and sharp objects presenting significant risks, slip resistance should be the primary consideration when making flooring recommendations within this sector. In addition, durability, ease of cleaning and acoustic performance must also be taken into account. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992 stipulate that flooring must not be ‘slippery so as to expose any person to a risk to their safety’. In food preparations areas, where the floor may be frequently splashed with cooking oil and liquids, installing high-performance safety flooring is key to managing this risk.
When it comes to choosing which product to install, there are three commonly quoted standards or test methods. Also known as the ramp test, DIN 51130 is a laboratory-based test used to measure the slip resistance of a product. The tested floor is given an ‘R’ classification depending on the angle of the inclination at which the tester feels unsafe.
The scale starts at R9 (the lowest slip resistance class) and runs to R13. It is important to be aware that not all products within this classification offer the enhanced slip resistance properties of safety floors required in high slip risk areas.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and UK Slip Resistance Group (UKSRG) measure slip resistance using the Pendulum test1.
The test can be used to assess slip resistance in both dry and contaminated conditions and measures the coefficient of friction of a floor sur face to provide a slip potential classification. A pendulum test value (PTV) of 36 or higher is classified as low slip risk.
Finally, EN 13845 is the European Standard that ensures the sustainability of slip resistance of vinyl floor coverings.
It concerns PVC safety floorcoverings with particle based enhanced slip resistance and specifies the requirements that must be met to ensure that the slip resistant properties of the floor covering are maintained during the life of the product.
Flooring in food preparation areas must have a PTV of 36 or higher in the expected conditions of service, according to HSE guidance. Installers should therefore look for flooring with Pendulum test values appropriate for the level and type of contamination likely to be present.
Slip resistance is not the only consideration for flooring in food preparation areas. Maintaining high standards of hygiene is also essential, particularly under heavy foot traffic, so floor coverings must be durable and easy
Acoustics should also be – par ticularly in adjoining eating taken into account areas. Restaurants can be noisy places and minimising this disturbance often plays a major role in creating the right ambience for guests. In these areas there is still a need for increased slip protection, primarily from wet spillages, even though the risk is lower than in the actual food preparation zones.
This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal website. You can find them at www.contractflooringjournal.co.uk.