Concrete is robust material and is used in the majority of non-residential buildings constructed around the world. However the top surface is porous so it absorbs a small amount of liquids that are spilt, creating the potential for microbial growth and diminished hygiene standards, and a small amounts of liquids that are deliberately applied such as water and cleaning chemicals. This increases the rate at which the concrete floor surface will breakdown over time.
The top surface will also deteriorate over time particularly where it is trafficked. Trolley wheels, particularly if the wheels are nylon, and forklift trucks will accelerate the rate of wear of the floor surface.
Like all workplaces, breweries and distilleries need to keep their staff safe and healthy, so reducing trip hazards is essential. Pot holes and cracks also provide rough surfaces for dirt to cling to and are difficult to clean, creating good environments for microbial growth. Rather like tooth cavities, if left untreated the cracks and potholes accelerate deterioration of a concrete floor.
Advice on repairing damaged concrete floors can be found here
If a concrete floor is not sealed, coated or screeded then over time, when tracked by trolleys and forklifts, they can begin to dust, i.e. concrete particles will become detached from the surface and form a thin layer of dust on the surface of the floor. This dust then gets into the air and can cause health, hygiene and product tainting issues.
The production of beer, ale, wine and spirits is the same as any food production facility, it is imperative that floors and other surfaces are hygienic. Brewery and Distillery floors or floor finishes must be food grade or food safe floor finishes that do not encourage microbial growth.
A rigorous cleaning regime is essential in a brewery or distillery. The floor must be able to withstand harsh cleaning chemicals, hot water and / or steam cleaning. Thermal cycling, going from normal cooler temperatures to hot temperatures when cleaning, can cause the floor surface to deteriorate; and steam cleaning can cause thermal shock which damages concrete floor surfaces.
Brewery and distillery floors must withstand impact from kegs and barrels, trolleys and forklifts.
If floor finishes are laid before brewing or distilling equipment is installed, it is imperative that any damage to the floor surface during the installation process is repaired.
The floor and floor surface must be capable of carrying the compressive load from the equipment operating at full capacity.
Brewery and distillery floors must have good floor drains. Long floor gulley drains can be installed along the centre of areas with the floor finish laid to falls.
If the floor finish is not laid to falls or is uneven, waste water etc. may pond or puddle on the floor surface and will require more effort to manual sweep into floor drains.
Slips, trips and falls continue to be a major cause of injuries in the workplace according to HSE statistics and personal injury claims have risen massively in recent years. Ensuring that floor surfaces provide appropriate slip-resistance will help to reduce the risk.
Where surfaces are likely to be wet or have standing water on them the slip-resistance of the floor surfaces must be higher than floor surfaces that will remain dry at all times.
Brewery and distillery floors need to be able to withstand anything that is spilt on them or anything used to clean or sanitize them.
Sanitizing agents, disinfectants, or biocides used to clean equipment can be spilt on the floor. So the brewery or distillery floor needs to be resistant to acid-based chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide, peroxyacetic acid and anionic acids. Alternatively, alkali-based sanitizers might be used such as chlorine, ammonium or sodium hypochlorite; so the floor will also need to be resistant to alkalis.
Harsh chemicals may also be used to clean and sanitize the floor itself, so obviously the floor surface must be chemically resistant in order to withstand this.
Even ingredients in the brewing or distilling process can be responsible for chemical attack of a concrete floor if spilt, as can the beer or spirits themselves which are acidic.
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