Midlands Group visit to Altro Flooring at Letchworth, March 2014
Following a visit by Altro Flooring to the University of Nottingham Estate Office, the Midlands Group took up the invitation to have our Spring meeting at Altro’s factory in Letchworth. A number of Midlands Group Universities are based in the region so we felt it was a reasonable journey to make.
Altro Flooring is a long established family-run business that manufactures safety flooring for all sorts of workplaces in all sorts of countries across the globe. They supply their flooring to a number of Universities and of course, are keen to do more business with our sector as many of us have new buildings coming on line and on-going refurbishments taking place.
The day started off with a presentation by Altro. They gave a summary of relevant legislation, statistics on slips, HSE activity and slip resistance measurement techniques. This was followed by an explanation of the manufacturing process and a factory tour. They have worked closely with HSL and are fully au fait with the need to build slip resistance into their products. They are also constantly reviewing the ingredient mix to improve their “green” credentials (they have a new product that doesn’t need adhesive and are able to recycle much of their waste) as well as satisfy the customers’ wishes for aesthetically pleasing products.
From the safety perspective, their emphasis was about being careful to specify the environment that the flooring would be used in and being aware that standards quoted by manufacturers and suppliers can be misleading….who would think that a standard of 9 would turn out to be the poorest level of slip resistance but with the DIN Standard scale, this is the case.
They also stressed the importance of keeping floors dry – people don’t slip on dry floors, we all know that, but think about the typical way in which we deal with spillages. Often it is straightforward enough organising for someone to do some cleaning up, perhaps with a mop, but this can spread the contamination further afield and leaves a smear which is actually much less apparent to the human eye than a pool of water. The key thing is that the risk of slipping is as high on a very wet floor as it is on a slightly wet floor (we have found that to be the case with measurements we carried out at Nottingham)….so the message was, look at how you can achieve a dry floor as soon as possible or keep people away from the contaminated area.
The final thought from the safety perspective was the floor cleaning – making sure that the right products were used and in the right way. Altro advised finding out from the floor suppliers what is required and then ensuring domestic staff are included in any briefings or training. A “one product cleans all“ approach is unlikely to be helping when it comes to minimising the risk of slipping.
All in all, it was a useful morning which we followed up with our usual business meeting in the afternoon. We have extended our thanks to Altro for allowing us to look at their facility and for their kind hospitality.