Cleaning warehouse floors – a Health & Safety issue

Warehouses through their very nature are high risk locations. High level racking systems, fork lift trucks moving back and forth, pallets of goods at ground level and at height, and areas where lighting fails to adequately penetrate creating poor visibility.

It is therefore extremely important to ensure that suitable precautions are taken to maintain and enhance safety for all building users, and nowhere is this more important than by keeping floors clear of litter and free from dirt and spillages.

Slips, trips and falls remain the most common cause of workplace accidents, accounting for almost 1/3 of all major workplace injuries in 2012/13 (HSE statistics). Recent surveys highlight the fact that while slips and trips remain a priority concern for employers, few felt that organisations are fully effective at controlling the slip and trip risk.

To help companies overcome some of the issues associated with cleaning floors in warehouses and other industrial buildings, there is a wide range of sweeping machines available from various manufacturers and suppliers to meet a variety of needs and budgets.

Where large warehousing facilities exist, the Comac CS100/CS120 battery, diesel or bi-fuel (LPG) powered ride-on sweepers come in to their own.

Designed to easily collect solid debris as well as light dust, the CS100/CS120 is at the top of the range in terms of power, capacity, durability and heavy duty performance.

A debris hopper with a capacity of over 400 litres allows the CS100 to cover an area of up to 16,200m2/hour.

Once a warehouse floor has been cleared of solid debris, litter and dust, it is essential that the floor is thoroughly cleaned to remove residual liquid spillages, especially those of a greasy or oily nature which could pose serious slip hazards.

The Comac Ultra 100B is a scrubber drier compact in size yet innovative in its design and is perfectly suited to both maintenance and deep cleaning of medium to large sized areas.

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With a working width of 1,000mm and a solution tank of 200 litres, the Ultra 100B can cover an area up to 6,500m2 per hour. The machine has been designed to make the operator’s job as comfortable as possible and to be extremely user friendly for even unskilled staff.

The Ultra 100B also boasts excellent low noise levels thanks to the suction motor being fitted inside a double wall tank made of insulating polyethylene.

Maintaining the appearance, safety and integrity of warehouse floors is essential to meet strict Health & Safety regulations, as well as ensuring that the working environment is both safe and productive for those working there.

By using high quality floor cleaning machines, designed to meet the demands of today’s busy working environments, it is easier for a cleaning contractor or warehouse operator to meet those regulations and in so doing to maintain and enhance safety and to increase productivity.

For more information on the Comac range of sweepers and scrubber driers contact Simon Collins of Industrial Floorcare Machines (UK) by email at simon@industrialfloorcaremachines.com.

Warehouse floors – forklift truck tyre marks and their removal

A clean and tidy industrial floor will improve the aesthetics of any warehouse and also satisfies safety requirements demanded by H&S bodies.

In order to keep industrial floors in the best possible condition it is important that a good cleaning programme is implemented.

Sweep floors clean

It is important that industrial floors should be well maintained and kept clean and free of any loose debris that could otherwise abrade the surface. Use large brooms, scissor sweepers or where size and budget permits walk behind or even ride-on sweepers for large warehouse facilities.

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Remove grime

Depending upon the size of the floor, the use of a mop and bucket for small areas is viable but for deep cleaning and certainly for larger expanses of floor area, a scrubber drier is better suited to remove any grease, spillages or general grime.

Rubber tyre marks

A major problem in maintaining an industrial floor is the tyre marks left behind from forklift trucks.

These marks become more apparent and troublesome when a light reflective floor is involved, and can detract from the aesthetic appearance and reduce the performance characteristics of the floor surface.

Warehouse floors

The removal of ingrained tyre marks can in many cases be extremely difficult, if not impossible. Therefore it is strongly advisable that a cleaning programme is put in place to manage the situation.

Forklift Truck Tyres

The most common forklift truck tyres are made from a universal rubber compound. This type of tyre will leave marks on concrete floors.

There are two types of “non-marking” tyres available and these should be considered for use where tyre marking becomes a problem.

“White” tyres are made from synthetic rubber with white silica gel or resin instead of carbon. The white tyres have a grey-white appearance, can cost up to 25% more than the universal carbon tyres and have about 90% of the life of the universal tyres.

They can also have a heat build-up problem when running fast and/or over long distances. If heat does build up then the load capacity can be reduced. These tyres can leave a white dust-type residue, which does not adhere to the floor surface and can be swept up during the cleaning process.

Polyurethane tyres are shiny black in appearance, very hard and can cost twice as much as universal rubber tyres. It is suggested that polyurethane tyres wear three times more than the universal tyre. The polyurethane tyre will leave a black residue that does not stick to the floor unlike black rubber type tyres. This non-sticking allows the residue to be swept or vacuumed through the maintenance cleaning process.

Spinning is the main contributory factor to black rubber tyre marks. This is a particular concern for light reflective floors. This practice must be discouraged where possible.

Recommended method for cleaning and removing rubber tyre marks

Envii EN701 Rubber Tyre Mark Remover (Ultragreen & Non-Hazardous) removes rubber marks with ease. It is able to tackle the most difficult rubber deposits whether it be from a forklift or the landing area on a runway.

It is ideal for busy warehouse or distribution centres where time is at a premium and areas cannot be closed off for long periods.

Use neat for heavy rubber tyre marks where 100ml will normally treat 1m² or it can be diluted to deal with lighter marks or for ongoing maintenance.

Another product we have found from experience that works well is Ultrapac Renovate from Prochem. It can be used as a pre-spray and can work wonders on rubber tyre mark removal. This product is solvent free and is designed for the removal of ingrained soils, carbon, soot and rubber from hard and semi-porous surfaces.

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After application of a rubber tyre mark remover, the area can be scrubbed with a scrubber drier using hard polypropylene scrubbing brushes or with green scrubbing pads to loosen the residue. The scrubber drier can be filled with water and / or a water and detergent mix to remove excess solution from the floor surface and provide a final clean in the process.

A recommended chemical for this process, and for regular maintenance cleaning of warehouse floors, is Triple Advanced Scrubber Drier Detergent manufactured by Selden. The super strength formulation of this product removes even the toughest grease and grime and is designed for cleaning large warehouses.

Polypropylene scrubbing brushes or green scrubbing pads are recommended for use with scrubber driers to clean warehouse floors. Do not use black pads to clean any marks from a light reflective floor surface as they are extremely aggressive and may scratch the floor surface.

Depending upon the size of the warehouse, the space between pallets and racking, and of course the budget available, scrubber drier options include everything from mid-sized walk behind machines such as the Comac Abila or Simpla, to larger machines such as the Comac Omnia 32, and then upwards to include ride-on machines such as the Comac Flexy and Comac Ultra 120.

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Safe and sensible activities

The loading and unloading of warehouse racking and pallet bays and the movement of goods around warehouses needs to be carried out with care to minimise surface marking and scratching.

Forklift trucks and other vehicles need to be driven with care over these surfaces to avoid marking caused by wheel spin, sharp and abrupt turning or sliding, leaving unsightly marks that need to be removed.

Even a properly planned maintenance schedule cannot prevent the leaving of rubber tyre marks if the forklift trucks are not handled appropriately and with care.