Health & safety

DEMM Engineering & Manufacturing - - EDITORIAL -

SLOP­ING AND SINK­ING floors, and cracks in trans­port yard pave­ments and drive­ways may be signs of un­sta­ble ground that can lead to struc­tural is­sues, af­fect­ing the safety, per­for­mance and op­er­a­tion of a busi­ness.

The sta­bil­ity of foun­da­tions be­neath a man­u­fac­tur­ing or ware­house fa­cil­ity, in­clud­ing the load­ing dock, trans­port hub and drive­way, can have a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on work­place health and safety prac­tices, as well as busi­ness op­er­a­tions and per­for­mance. James O’Grady, a ground en­gi­neer­ing spe­cial­ist at Main­mark, said it’s im­por­tant for busi­ness own­ers to iden­tify the signs of struc­tural is­sues early, and act quickly to rec­tify those that have the po­ten­tial to cause in­jury or dis­rupt the busi­ness.

Com­mon signs in­clude:

• Sink­ing or slop­ing floors cre­ate trip and fall haz­ards, and af­fect the sta­bil­ity of walk­ways, gantries, el­e­vated work plat­forms and lad­ders fre­quently used by work­ers to ac­cess ma­chin­ery and equip­ment for rou­tine tasks, main­te­nance, ser­vic­ing, re­pair or clean­ing.

• Cracked or un­even floors, sink­ing con­crete slabs, slop­ing floors or shelv­ing that has be­come un­level can af­fect the safety of work­ers and the ef­fi­cient op­er­a­tion of mo­bile ma­chin­ery and equip­ment. Th­ese are likely to be a sign that the foun­da­tion ground un­der­neath the build­ing needs re­in­force­ment to sup­port the weight of heavy ma­chin­ery and other loads.

• Un­even floors di­rectly im­pact the per­for­mance of ma­chin­ery, tools, and work­place health and safety. A level floor is cru­cial to the sta­bil­ity of shelv­ing and racks af­fect­ing work­flow, and the safe op­er­a­tion of fork­lifts, pal­let jacks, cranes and de­liv­ery trucks. An un­even floor can re­duce the ef­fi­cient op­er­a­tion of large ma­chin­ery and equip­ment with mov­ing parts, such as booms or me­chan­i­cal ap­pendages.

• Heavy in­dus­trial equip­ment can put floors and their un­der­ly­ing foun­da­tions un­der im­mense stress, and cause crack­ing or sink­ing. Fa­cil­i­ties with busy trans­port hubs will rely on fre­quent and seam­less ac­cess of heavy ve­hi­cles as part of daily op­er­a­tions. Man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ties and ware­houses are en­vi­ron­ments that re­quire a vig­i­lant ap­proach to work­place health and safety.

“Main­mark was re­cently called to a busy trans­port yard where “pump­ing” at the slab joint had caused voids to form un­der the con­crete pave­ments which re­sulted in the slab mov­ing ev­ery time a ve­hi­cle drove over it,” said O’Grady.

“Pump­ing” is the move­ment of base, sub-base and/or sub-grade ma­te­rial as a re­sult of wa­ter pres­sure be­neath the slab. As heavy traf­fic loads con­tin­u­ally pump the sat­u­rated foun­da­tion ground, the ma­te­ri­als that pro­vide struc­tural sup­port to the slab move, which can ex­ac­er­bate un­der­ly­ing is­sues or voids, lead­ing to in­creased sub­si­dence, dam­age and the risk of fail­ure.

“Over time, the void­ing in­creased un­til the slab lost sup­port and cracked. Not only was this un­sightly, it also caused is­sues with fork­lifts and other traf­fic in the area,” said O’Grady.

Sub­si­dence of ex­ter­nal slabs and pave­ments typ­i­cally re­sults in run-off wa­ter pond­ing and then seep­ing into the foun­da­tion ground. As heavy traf­fic loads pump the sat­u­rated foun­da­tion ground, it may ex­ac­er­bate un­der­ly­ing is­sues or voids be­neath foun­da­tions, lead­ing to even more dam­age, in­creased sub­si­dence and the risk of fail­ure.

“While the cost to re­pair struc­tural is­sues may seem pro­hib­i­tive, the cost of a se­ri­ous work­place in­ci­dent can be sig­nif­i­cant, not to men­tion the per­sonal cost to an in­jured per­son and their fam­ily.”

Suc­cess­ful re­me­di­a­tion of struc­tural is­sues and un­even floors is pos­si­ble out­side of key oper­a­tional hours, and with min­i­mal dis­rup­tion or mess. Main­mark’s Teretek resin in­jec­tion so­lu­tion can be used to fill voids, relevel build­ings and re­me­di­ate ground is­sues to strengthen a build­ing’s foun­da­tions quickly, un­ob­tru­sively and cost ef­fec­tively.

Suit­able for most soil types, the Teretek ex­pand­ing resin is ap­plied via small in­jec­tion points into the ground be­neath the struc­ture, strength­en­ing the ground and com­pact­ing the soil. Teretek can be ap­plied in situ un­der ex­ist­ing struc­tures, avoid­ing the ex­pense of ex­ca­va­tion or re­plac­ing con­crete.

The process is ex­tremely quick: many re lev­el­ling and slab lift­ing jobs take less than a day, and con­crete drive­ways and slabs can of­ten be driven on within hours of com­ple­tion.


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