Workplace Solutions Facility safety Housekeeping Spills

Facility slip hazard solutions

How can I maintain safety and sure footing in a messy, manufacturing environment with an abundance of slip/fall factors such as oil mist from machining or air tools, hydraulic fluids, etc.?


Responding is Tim Brennan, sales and marketing manager, Wooster, Wooster, OH.

Manufacturing plants can be messy places.

Hydraulic fluids that allow machinery to function properly can leak onto floors, be tracked through the facility on shoes (regardless of how vigorously they’re wiped) and then transported to other surfaces, creating potential slip/fall incidents. Oil mist, which is pervasive in factories, poses similar problems.

Couple this with the fact that some machinery requires operators to step up to access maintenance or operational areas, and safety can quickly be compromised. Anti-slip stair treads and nosings are a simple and inexpensive way to resolve this problem. Treads typically cover much of the step surface, while nosings cover the front third, but aside from that the construction is the same. These products are often applied on stairwells and landings but can also be installed on machinery steps to enhance safety and create a more sure-footed environment.

A heat-treated, corrosion-resistant aluminum base is filled with diamond-hard aluminum oxide filler that provides a high coefficient of friction for sure footing, even when wet. The filler should include a minimum of 65% virgin aluminum oxide to attain the desired coefficient of friction and anti-slip properties desired, as well as long service life. The higher the coefficient or friction, the more “stickiness” of the surface and less slippage potential.

Many manufacturers offer contrasting colors to draw attention to the leading edge of the nosing or tread. Photoluminescent or glow-in-the-dark technology is also available to light the way in the event of a power outage. This should be strongly considered for egress pathways (and is part of the building code for new structures more than seven stories tall). Renovation treads and nosings are available in varying widths to suit the project at hand and can be cut to length at the factory to simplify installation. Safety treads include a mill finish extruded aluminum base, with a beveled edge, and countersunk holes as standard. Anchors available include Tapcon screws, wood screws, machine screws or expansion screws. Using the desired anchors, the treads or nosings are fastened in place, allowing fast and easy installation over existing surfaces, such as diamond plate, mesh, wood, metal and concrete. Once installed, the project is complete. The surface now boasts a much higher coefficient of friction, which enhances its non-slip properties, regardless of the condition of the manufacturing environment. Service life of the anti-slip nosings and treads will vary depending on traffic pattern and use.

Care should be taken to ensure the non-slip surfaces are clean, especially when using contrasting colors for the leading edge. They’re easily cleaned with common household cleaners/degreasers, although a small section should be cleaned first to ensure colorfastness of the surface. Manufacturer warranties vary but typically are five years.

Machinery surfaces that don’t lend themselves to the installation of treads can benefit from the application of non-slip tape. Available in multiple widths, colors and coarseness, and as die-cut shapes, non-slip tape provides a simple and cost-effective solution to improving safety when treads and nosings can’t be used. Care must be taken to thoroughly clean the surface before application, as any residual oil or debris will impede the tape from sticking and cause premature peeling.

Manufacturing is often a messy process, but it doesn’t have to be an unsafe one, thanks to the non-slip products available.

Editor's note: This article represents the independent views of the author and should not be considered a National Safety Council endorsement.

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