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Winterizing warehouse floors for safety

Slip and falling hazards worse in winter

We’re in the midst of winter, when snow, sleet, ice and the salt used to melt them will inevitably find their way into warehouses. The treads of work safety shoes and snow boots track it in. Forklifts not only bring it in but move it around the warehouse.

Needless to say, any type or source of moisture on a concrete floor creates a slippery surface that poses potentially serious workplace hazards.

OSHA standard for walking-working surfaces

OSHA Standard Number 1910.22 is dedicated to Walking-Working Surfaces, with specific mentions of dry conditions, snow, and ice:

“The floor of each workroom is maintained in a clean and, to the extent feasible, in a dry condition.”
“Walking-working surfaces are maintained free of hazards such as sharp or protruding objects, loose boards, corrosion, leaks, spills, snow, and ice.”

The best defense is a good offense, and that applies to warehouse floors. The most important thing is to make the concrete safer (and more durable) through the implementation and maintenance of performance coatings or concrete polishing.

Meanwhile, here are a few extra precautions that safety and facility managers can take during the winter.

Practical ways to winterize warehouse floors

Waffle mats at all entrances

Special waffle mats are available with ridged borders to capture snowmelt and a thick grid to scrape footwear clean. And since they’re only effective when used, make sure to enforce it, with signage if needed.

Drainage mats in strategic areas

Strategic placement of mats with open drainage patterns in places like stationary work areas will trap any residual snow or ice that works it way into the warehouse and begins melting into unwanted pools of water.

Extra floor cleaning vigilance

Floor-cleaning intervals may need to be increased during winter in general and especially on days when the snow and sleet is coming down—a small price to pay for keeping workers safely on their feet.

Regular traffic lane and walkway inspections

Managers should conduct a regular review of foot and equipment traffic lanes, especially on snowy days, and "deputize" all warehouse workers, especially forklift operators, to be on the lookout for melting snow and puddles of water. Make sure all line striping and floor markings are in good condition so they can be clearly seen.

Keeping warehouse floors safe any time of the year

The most effective way to prevent slips, trips and falls any time of the year is to implement and maintain a slip-resistant flooring solution throughout the warehouse. This is generally done through coatings (including textured coatings with traction additives) or the process of concrete polishing and sealing or some combination depending on the size of the facility and space utilization.

When done by experienced floor coating and polishing contractors like Painters USA, you enhance workplace safety and ensure compliance with OSHA Standard Number 1910.22 by enhancing slip resistance. Polishing or performance coatings also create a lighter, more reflective flooring surface that improves visibility, as dark facilities are both less safe and less pleasant to work in. And along with enhancing safety, these measures keep the concrete protected from operational wear and tear, safeguarding and optimizing the value of the facility while reducing downtime over the lifespan of the floor.

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