Fixing Cracks in the Floor of Your Warehouse: Solutions That Prevent Bigger Problems
When the subject of developing warehouse solutions to increase employee safety comes up, the topic of injuries and falls arises almost immediately. Falls can lead to serious injury, and therefore they are a liability your company needs to consider. At Specialized Storage Solutions we strongly advocate safety precautions, which is why in this article we’ll go through the risk cracks in concrete present, and discuss the best way to deal with this problem.
People do not slip and fall on even, clean and dry floors. According to the National Floor Safety Institute, 97% of trips and falls are caused by – among other things – poor lighting, inadequate footwear, and vision impairments. However, the leading cause of falls is linked to a problem with the walking surface.
Concrete floors and surfaces are prone to cracking, yet warehouse managers take this issue lightly. This is due to two factors: firstly, they are oblivious to the possible safety repercussions, and secondly, they trust their experience to spot a problem, instead of conducting formal floor audits.
Some cracks are indeed easy to spot, but there are too many variables involved in determining whether there is a problem or not. Factors such as the footwear being worn (surface unevenness does not feel the same under sneakers or safety boots) and the person’s experience and stride can affect his or her judgment in determining whether there’s an issue.
Aisles, floors, entrances and every other area on your facility will change over time despite how well designed, built and maintained it was. Carpets will fray, wooden floors can develop loose boards, and concrete will eventually crack.
Why should you repair cracks in concrete?
If you’re still unsure whether to include crack repairs under your list of warehouse solutions; here are five compelling reasons that will convince you of its importance:
Liability regarding the staff’s safety
As we mentioned before, issues such an employee falling in your warehouse can put your company in a sensitive position before the law. If a person (not necessarily an employee) falls, trips or slips within your property, you are automatically liable for the injuries, and a court may order you to settle.
Most famous cases have included people becoming handicapped for life and settlements ranging from half a million to ten million dollars. When you compare the cost of crack repair to paying medical bills, lost wages and incident expenses (such as gas to go to a doctor’s appointment), it’s almost ludicrous.
Overall warehouse safety
A crack on the floor or in a wall can lead to structural problems. This represents a serious safety issue, as the structure and foundation of your building could be affected and anyone standing within its walls would be at risk. When it comes to analyzing a crack, experts offer some advice on what to look for aside from the fissure/rupture on the material:
- Does the roof sag?
- Does a break on the floor travel along to the wall?
- Is there any indication of structural movement on the floor?
- Is there a way to find out if the foundation is cracked or bowed?
- Are there doors or windows that have become difficult to open or shut?
If the answer to these questions is NO, then you are on the safe side, relatively speaking. By applying a good product to the crack, your problem will be solved without having to worry. If the answer to any of the questions above is YES, you are advised to seek professional help immediately, to address structural and engineering issues.
Other employee health issues
Studies show that harmful chemicals can potentially enter a building through concrete cracks. Furthermore, some substances can cause the concrete to react negatively, expelling undesired chemicals and exposing your employees to a health risk. By sealing every concrete crack in your building, you are bullet-proofing your facility against potential contaminants.
Concrete cracks devaluate your property. Due to possible structural problems, safety issues and overall appearance, no investor or buyer will be interested in a building with cracks. It gives the impression of a badly-maintained, risky building. If you are the owner of your facility and plan to sell eventually, you should consider cracks repair as the next step in your warehouse solutions agenda.
Cracks in concrete are not a problem that goes away with time; on the contrary, it worsens with time. The longer you take in making the decision, the more substantial the issue will be and the longer it will take to repair.
How are cracks fixed?
The process of fixing cracks is fairly straightforward, and includes the following steps:
- Widening the base of the crack and removing loose material
- Removing debris from the crack using a wire brush. In some cases, a pressure washer may be needed.
- Carefully removing the water, along with dust and other loose materials
- Mixing the concrete compound and packing it into the crack. Air pockets are removed by poking the compound down with the trowel handle
- Smoothing down the fixed surface, and blending the new concrete into the old surface
- Adding texture to the wet concrete (if required)
- Allowing the compound to cure
- Painting and/or sealing the fixed concrete patch and its surroundings so the floor looks uniform.
While the process is simple and doesn’t take much time, if your floor is starting to crack, that may mean you have a bigger problem on your hands. Usually, it’s because the place is old and the surface is worn. You’ll fix one crack, only to have another occur in a few months’ time. In such a case, resurfacing the warehouse may be a better investment. As far as warehouse solutions go, it’s excellent – and recommended.
The term resurfacing is self-explanatory. In the process, a slim cement-based overlay is poured over existing concrete. The material used has special bonding agents that make the adherence effective and provide a long-term solution. In addition, concrete resurfacing has other benefits such as increasing light reflectiveness and making the floor easier to clean.
What are the benefits of concrete resurfacing?
Aside from the financial advantages of not having to change an entire floor or surface, concrete resurfacing offers many other benefits:
- Easy and quick to apply. Instead of attempting to repair a crack (which is like applying a band-aid), by resurfacing the entire floor you create a new-looking and level surface. This does not require much time and the result will not only hide and correct the cracks but improve the overall looks of it. The effort-to-result ratio is much better here.
- It allows for different finishes. Concrete resurfacing can be tinted with colorants or stamped with various patterns. So you have two warehouse solutions built in one: you fix your crack problem, and you customize your floor to a more aesthetically pleasing one.
- Prevents future tearing. Depending on the material you use the process can make your surface resistant to stains, imperfections and even future cracks. The floor will last longer and look better after the resurfacing process.
- There is no need to invest a large amount of money. Resurfacing averages less than one-third of what you would spend changing the entire floor or surface.
- Resurfacing materials can be customized to your needs. Your warehouse requirements may include waterproof capability, resistance to certain chemicals, or a non-slip quality.
Since the choice of resurfacing material enhances the advantages of the process and increases the return on investment, we strongly suggest you spend some time searching for a high-quality product.
What should you look for?
Experts claim that polymer-based products are the best for these purposes; they offer a glossy, shiny finish and give a cleaner appearance. Look for a product that is resistant to chemicals and abrasion, and which is waterproof. Depending on the function of your warehouse, it never hurts to have the ability to handle different materials without risking damaging your surfaces.
If possible, avoid anything that requires your floor to be waxed, or anything containing potassium silicate hardeners. You want to have a product that increases hardness and durability at the same time.
When thinking about warehouse solutions to improve the functionality and safety of your building, you must not ignore cracks in concrete. Your warehouse is an asset, and concrete damage does more than making your facility look dingy and old; it puts your employees, clients and the physical structure of the building at risk.
It may begin as a small problem, but if ignored it can escalate to a dangerous level. We at Specialized Storage Solutions strongly recommend conducting floor audits, and fixing cracks in concrete as soon as they are discovered to avoid exacerbating the problem.
If you think your warehouse may have other safety issues, get in touch with us for a safety audit. In the last 25 years, we have helped provide safer working environments for our clients by performing detailed safety audits of their warehouse operations. We provide cost-effective solutions to correct existing and potential safety hazards on work platforms, in rack systems, and where employees must be protected from crossing into the path of warehouse equipment or machinery.
You can request a safety audit by filling out the form on our website, or by calling us at 973-227-0018.