Two factors need to be considered when improving the safety of stairs in industrial environments. The first is visibility, as failing to see the edge of a step in dark or dimly-lit areas is a common cause of trip accidents. The second is traction; smooth, flat surfaces are dangerous if they become wet or contaminated, and lead to slip accidents.
With slips and trips being the most common causes of workplace injuries, stairs present a particular risk. To slip or fall over on a level surface is bad enough, but to do so on stairs has far greater potential for serious injury.
The risk is also far greater in industrial environments, where contamination indoors or weather conditions outside can make surfaces more slippery. Solid surfaces such as concrete may be more prone to this due to water or oil retention; even metal grating can be a problem.
There are various ways to reduce the risk of slips and trips. Let’s look at them and discuss which are best.
The Best Stair Safety Options For Solid Or Perforated Metal
Anti-Slip Coatings For Metal Stairs
Solid and perforated metal surfaces have a larger surface area than metal grating. This means they are more capable of retaining liquids and other substances that can become a slip hazard, but the increased area also allows for greater traction generated by anti-slip coatings.
Available in various degrees of grit coarseness, these can have excellent grip characteristics even when wet. Some epoxy-based coatings are also extremely resistant to oils and solvents. Anti-slip coatings are also manufactured in a range of colours, so a high-contrast colour can be applied to hazard spots such as stair edges. Care must be taken to thoroughly clean and degrease the surface before applying anti-slip coatings as any contamination will result in a poor bond between the coating and the metal.
Preformed Treads And Risers For Metal Stairs
Preformed treads and riser plates can be laid over existing stairs. Made out of sheet metal, these feature a heavy-duty anti-slip coating with a high-visibility yellow strip along the front edge to highlight each stair. Although more expensive than anti-slip paints, they are more durable and easily replaced when they become worn. Thorough degreasing is also not necessary before they are installed.
The Best Stair Safety Options For Concrete
Anti-Slip Coatings For Concrete Stairs
Like solid metal surfaces, concrete stairs can be given an anti-slip coating which can also be a high-visibility yellow at each stair edge. The chief disadvantage of this option is that concrete is prone to easily absorbing oils and other contamination and this may be hard to remove satisfactorily if the contamination is severe.
Preformed Treads And Risers For Metal Stairs
Preformed treads and riser plates are also often suitable for concrete. If surface contamination is too severe for them to be fixed in place with an adhesive or mastic they can be drilled and fixed into position with screws or bolts.
The Best Stair Safety Options For Metal Grating
Anti-Slip Coatings For Metal Grating Stairs
While anti-slip coatings may initially adhere well to thoroughly cleaned and degreased metal grating, the relatively small surface area it provides (compared with solid or perforated metal) can be a problem: the coating will be less visible and is more likely to wear quickly as a high proportion of the coating will be on the exposed edges of the grating.
Preformed Treads And Risers For Metal Grating Stairs
Installing preformed treads and risers is also an option for stairs made from the metal grating, although because they are solid surfaces, they offset the benefit of open-grid flooring – allowing liquids, dust and other particles to fall through rather than accumulate.
The lack of upper surface area also means that the plates may not be easily fixed to grating with adhesives or mastics. If fixings such as nuts and bolts are used and work loose over time, there is a risk that these could fall into machinery and cause damage.
Anti-Slip Fiberglass Nosing
Yellow stair-nosing treads made of fibreglass are highly visible, waterproof and weatherproof, at least in the short term. However, due to their fibrous nature, they will over time begin to degrade, releasing potentially harmful splinters of glass fibre and losing their effectiveness.
The double-action anti-slip profile that’s a feature of all U-TRED products is suitable for many areas of metal grating stairs, walkways and ramps, providing optimum grip on level or inclined surfaces and stairs.
Patented U-TRED anti-slip knock-on cleats are manufactured in two materials. The standard galvanised steel cleat features a tough, safe yellow powder-coated finish for all-weather durability. As a non-rusting alternative for highly corrosive or sterile environments, the U-TRED GRP/resin composite cleat is moulded in a high-visibility safety green. Despite containing fibreglass, this composite doesn’t splinter like pure GRP and is therefore much safer and more durable.
Unlike fibreglass nosing treads, all U-TRED cleats require no additional fixings such as nuts and bolts to hold them securely in place – they simply click into position for instant installation. This removes the risk of fixings working loose, which can compromise the safety of the walking surface and increase the risk of loose fixings falling into machinery.
By maintaining the open structure of the metal grating, the design of U-TRED cleats also prevents any accumulation of dust, liquids and debris that can present a hazard.
Proven Anti-Slip Performance Globally
First developed in Australia, U-TRED cleats have been installed in every industry where open-grid flooring is used including oil, chemical and fertiliser plants, factories and mills, mining and marine environments.
They are now marketed and recognised internationally; in the US, they are providing floor safety to government agencies such as the US Airforce and NASA, and multinational corporates such as PepsiCo and Shell.
Contact us today for further details and samples of U-TRED products.