Pub-restaurant chain's choice of kitchen floor surface

A local authority Environmental Health Officer (EHO) made a health & safety visit to a large suburban pub-restaurant and noticed that the kitchen floor felt unusually slippery. Kitchen staff confirmed that the floor covering was much more slippery than the similar 'safety' flooring that it had replaced some months earlier.

The slipperiness that staff experienced did not seem to improve after routine cleaning and attempts to reduce grease deposits by improving the extract ventilation did not seem to have an effect.

Tests by the Health & Safety Laboratory (HSL) using pendulum coefficient of friction and surface micro-roughness measurement techniques showed that the floor's slip resistance was borderline when dry and unsatisfactory if wet. This was not felt to be appropriate for a kitchen.

The pub management experimented with different floor cleaning methods to assess whether this could improve the slip resistance but eventually decided that the most effective option was to replace the floor covering. Management made sure that the new floor covering had been reliably tested for slip resistance and that it would be expected to perform well in a commercial kitchen situation.

The replacement floor (a 'safety' epoxy material with anti slip particles) was tested by HSL once installed and the results indicated that it ought to perform well in both dry conditions and when subject to the sort of contamination that is to be expected in a busy kitchen.

The EHO was satisfied that the pub management had taken the right action to deal with the problem on site but pointed out that the action needed by the company may not end there. The pub-restaurant has a number of similar sites across the country run by the company. The floor covering that prompted the initial investigation was part of their standard specification used when their pub-restaurant kitchens were being refitted and had already been installed at some of their sites.

The company is now left to review its own flooring specification standards. It also has to consider what needs to be done about its sites that have already been refurbished and equipped with the type of floor covering that has had to be removed from this site.

Getting reliable information about the slip resistance performance of floor finishes should always be part of the design and specification process and is especially important where there is a risk of floors becoming wet or contaminated.

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