Providing non-slip flooring for industrial and commercial properties is an absolute must. Apart from the reduced cost to businesses from the disruption and lost days caused by injuries from trips and falls, the blame culture that the United Kingdom appears to be inheriting from the USA means that businesses are more likely to be sued if an employee or customer falls over.
Different Concrete Finishes
Concrete flooring can be inherently slippery or not depending on the type of finish applied. Exterior surfaces, such as loading bays and concretes, tend to be rippled to aid rain run-off and provide pretty good grip. But this can be uncomfortable underfoot so interior surfaces tend to be more polished.
In commercial properties where customers visit there is a need to make flooring better looking and the industrial look of rippled concrete is not welcome. Concrete floors that have been colour-hardened or sealed will have a nicer looking smoother finish but will, of course, be more slippery. This means that ensuring a non-slip surface usually means applying a separate coating or using grit in the top surface when finishing.
Adding grit is a good solution if it can be done when the floor is being constructed but if you’re trying to make an existing concrete floor safer then a non-slip coating or a layer of surface panels are the way to go. If you are interested in putting down an ecologically friendly or sustainable product then be prepared for disappointment. There currently doesn’t seem to be many products available in the UK with decent claims to either.
Non-Slip Surface Panels
There are a number of suppliers of non-slip surface panels made from glass-reinforced plastic (GRP), more commonly known as fibreglass. Claims for the sustainability of GRP are a little weak, focussing on its ability to be ground down and recycled for use on roads at the end of its life and the wide availability of glass for the fibres.
This of course avoids the issue of the use of the polyester resin used to bond the fibres together. This is a by-product of the petrochemical industry which gives off hazardous fumes and is an irritant if it comes into contact with the skin. It is not considered dangerous once the finished product is in place so the decision about using it relies on the extent of a company’s sustainability policy. Does it concern itself with the product simply when it is in use or over the whole life cycle?
Adding Epoxy Resin Layers
Epoxy resin surface layers can be spread over concrete and can certainly look stunning but the good looks are usually achieved by creating a mirror-smooth coloured finish. This is not really what is required in a commercial environment where grip underfoot is of paramount importance. However grip can be improved by adding aggregates into the mix or introducing a texture while the epoxy hardens.
There are concerns about the solvents used in epoxy mixes as well as the polyesters used to make the various forms of resin. There are health risks associated with the hardener element which can cause an allergic reaction, asthma, and some hardeners also contain chemicals that disrupt the endocrine system.
Again this is more likely to affect people involved in the manufacture of the components and the installation of the floor, not the people using it on a daily basis. So the approach taken will be determined by the sustainability policy of the company looking for a non-slip solution.