DIV17/10: Floorcare In Food Production (23 August 2017)

Issue Date: 23 August 2017
Ref: DIV17/10


Floorcare In Food Production
By Deborah Bland, Diversey Care, UK & Ireland

Floorcare is important in any industrial setting and food production plants are no exception. Effective floor cleaning helps to create a safe environment for employees, promotes hygiene and food safety, protects valuable assets and enhances a building’s appearance.

There are likely to be two key priorities in food production areas: hygiene and safety. Hygiene is important because it helps to ensure food safety, eliminate potential sources of contamination, and remove debris that can attract vermin and harbour the bacteria that cause bad smells and illnesses.

Safety is also important. During 2015, around 7,600 people experienced slips, trips and same-level falls in the workplace resulting in serious injuries such as broken bones. Over 13,000 people had similar accidents that caused them to have at least seven days off work. The consequences can be severe for all involved: suffering to the injured, disruption for employers and in extreme cases legal action against those held responsible. While no accident at work should ever be taken lightly, food production areas present additional risks because the machinery, knives and other sharp objects that are often present can turn a simple slip or fall into something far more serious.

One of the biggest factors in these accidents is contamination. In food production areas, this can include raw ingredients, oils and fats, blood and other liquids. All busy areas should therefore be cleaned routinely and regularly during the working day. Spills and contamination should ideally be removed as soon as they occur.

In the past it was routine to use a mop and bucket with a fairly limited choice of products. This is a messy, time-consuming and inefficient process that tends to spread contaminants over a wider area and leaves a thin film of liquid that increases the overall risk.

Progressive cleaning teams now prefer compact mains or battery-powered scrubber driers because they are more efficient and productive. Using a properly specified machine in combination with the right pads or brushes and cleaning product enables fast and effective working that leaves the floor clean, dry and ready to use again right away. These machines also maintain and even improve the appearance of the floor, protecting valuable assets and creating a positive impression.

It is important to specify the right machine for the application and workload. Machines that are too large might be underutilised and may not deliver a return on investment. Machines that are too small can be overworked, unproductive and unreliable. It is also important to specify the right combination of pad, brush and cleaning product for the type of floor and soiling. The pad or brush will be chosen to deliver the right mechanical cleaning action without damaging the surface.

The choice of cleaning product can be even more complex because of the different types of potential soiling. General purpose formulation may be adequate for many areas but specialist products will be better if contamination is severe or corrosive materials are present. With meat, for example, an alkaline formulation is better suited to removing contamination such as juices as well as fats and greases. With milk and dairy products a more acidic formulation may be appropriate.

While floor disinfection is not always the priority, where it is there are products with disinfection performance to various EN standards. For general application, those with “broad spectrum” capability to eliminate a wide range of pathogens may be suitable.

There is a huge choice in the market but leading suppliers will be able to advise on the right combination of machine, pads or brushes and cleaning products to deliver the most effective and economical results for any given flooring type and situation. The best will even offer specific ranges for food production settings. With a bit of forethought and the right choices floorcare will become a simple, effective and efficient process.