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Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Packing Sourcer

A Slippery Situation


Slips and trips are the most common causes of injury at work: on average, they lead to 40 per cent of all reported major injuries. Luckily, transforming your old floor into a new, fully-protected surface has become a much easier process

Until recently, installing a new floor most often involved the difficult task of removing the old floor first; however, this is no longer the case, with the new buzzword in the flooring industry being ‘refurbish’, rather than ‘replace’. When it comes to building maintenance programmes, the replacement of flooring counts for a significant slice of the budget, and in these tough economic times, pharmaceutical businesses need to look at the most cost-effective ways of doing business, without compromising on issues relating to health and safety.

Sometimes, due to technological advances, it is possible to find products that improve the performance of the original flooring specification. Often, when reviewing costs, the savings for refurbishing rather than replacing can be very significant. In today’s climate, this is proving extremely attractive to end users, as long as ongoing maintenance costs are also kept to a minimum without sacrificing quality.

An example of these cost savings can be seen when refurbishing resilient floors. There are millions of square feet of existing resilient floors that require renovation because they are worn, used or damaged by high traffic, or they simply no longer suit the user’s style or interior design. Vinyl tiles, linoleum, rubber and other such resilient flooring systems are especially popular in high traffic areas and can be expensive to replace. It doesn’t take much to work out why refurbishing such floors is an attractive option: it’s cheaper, quicker, and there’s less disruption to the business. Additional costs can be significant: taking up the existing floor and disposing of the waste material; repairing the sub-floor; not to mention the capital cost of the new floor itself. Finally, as well as the significant cost savings, the environmental benefits of this waste reduction are also clear.

Quick and Easy Renovation


Recent months have seen the development of innovative solutions that offer a quick and easy way to renovate and redesign an existing floor at a fraction of the time and cost of a complete floor replacement. High performance finishes are now available which can be painted on to the existing floor (once thoroughly cleaned) and available in a surprising range of colours.

The contractor simply has to clean the existing floor and then apply the sealer and protection layers over the top of it. This floor transformation can be completed in less than two working days. Compared with the five or six days of downtime that laying a new floor involves, the appeal of this option is obvious. In addition, this offers an eco-friendly method for renovating a floor system as it avoids waste, pollution and noise.

Sealing Options

When applied to resilient flooring (linoleum, vinyl or rubber), as well as to the industrial floors often used in pharmaceutical manufacturing (resin, self-levelling concrete or ceramic tiles), an anti-slip sealant can offer long-term flooring protection and, most importantly, slip-prevention to comply with current European legislation. The product forms a hard-wearing sealant film of improved durability – around 40 microns of thickness – ideal for areas of high footfall. The anti-slip cover changes the properties of any resilient or industrial floor surface from regular R9 to the safer R10 classification.

In pharmaceutical workplaces, the issue of chemicals being spilt on the floor is a potential hazard and inevitably leads to the unattractive discolouration of the floor. However, help is at hand in the form of an anti-colour sealant. Suitable for use on vinyl floors, these types of sealants are extremely hard-wearing; they have a satin finish that makes floors easier to clean and protect. The two-part polymer sealers, which are simple to apply, are mixed with a hardener and then rolled onto the floor in two coats. Without the benefit of using an anti-colour sealant, there is nothing to stop chemicals penetrating the floor, but by using this type of sealer, floor stains can be simply wiped away.

Static Dispersion

It isn’t just slips, trips and discolouration that can be prevented with an effective floor covering. With ever-increasing numbers of sensitive electrical items in the workplace, static discharge is becoming more of an issue. It can cause damage to expensive and, in some cases, life-saving equipment. Consequently, standards are in place to regulate the performance of conductive flooring in controlled environments, found in industrial sectors such as manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and life sciences.

Conductive floors are not always used in areas sensitive to electrostatic discharge (ESD). Standard vinyl or vinyl-composition tiles are frequently installed. It is important to use static dispersive products to maintain non-conductive floors in these sensitive areas. Static-dissipative floor finishes, floor cleaners and polishes are available. Floor care products should not be used in sensitive areas unless they are specifically designed for ESD control. Conventional floor finishes and waxes without dissipative capacity can produce a surface that is more susceptible to static charge buildups, and cleaning agents not specially formulated for controlling ESD may remove the ESD protection on the floor.

As a result, sealants that also provide electrostatic dispersion from vinyl flooring are becoming an increasingly popular choice. They create an invisible film on the surface of the floor which conducts electrostatic charge, taking it safely from edge to edge and away from sensitive electrical equipment.

Conclusion


Often it seems that the floor is expected to remain in exactly the same condition as the day it was laid, for years to come, without any treatment. Of course, when it does get worn, the complaint is that the flooring itself is not of good quality. However, there are a range of protection solutions available for any floor to ensure it stays in the best possible condition throughout its lifetime.

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Since 1998, Lothar Schutz has been Managing Director of floor care company Dr Schutz International, specialists in renovating and refurbishing resilient, resin and textile floor coverings. Prior to this he was Export Director and Board Member at Hesse Coatings. Since 2012, Lothar has also been the owner of Eukula International, a wood coatings and oil systems manufacturer, and Scratchnomore International, a furniture protection company. He has an MA from Cambridge University and a PhD from Munster University, Germany.
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