When it comes to public safety, businesses and building owners have a responsibility to identify and manage potential hazards at their premises. Slips, trips and falls are a common occurrence and while people stumble and fall for all sorts of reasons, it’s important to maintain floors and walkways for all visitors or employees at the site.
If an incident is caused by a floor surface that is faulty with visible cracking or lifting, the building and business owners can be liable for damages. Uneven floors are not only an OH&S issue, but are often a sign that the building is suffering from structural or foundation ground issues which can be significant and worsen if left unchecked.
The retail and hospitality sectors can be impacted more than most by incidents relating to uneven floors as they generally experience more foot traffic than other types of business. Many restaurants and shopping precincts also operate at night with dim lighting contributing to safety risks. Shops and restaurants also tend to rely on continuous and often long hours of operation and are therefore reluctant to close their business for lengthy periods of time to fix these issues.
However, new solutions are now available that can quickly, unobtrusively and cost effectively fix underlying ground subsidence issues, which often manifest as uneven and cracked floors, without the need to shut down at all.
Recently, Mainmark remediated underlying structural issues and uneven floors for two busy restaurants in Wellington using Teretek®, a new engineered resin injection solution. Both restaurants were able to avoid disruptions to their business by applying the Teretek solution discreetly in the very early pre-dawn hours of the morning. The jobs were completed within a few hours so the restaurants were ready to re-open mid-morning as usual. The ultra-quiet, low-disruption process we have developed sees the resin applied using tiny injection points, likened to keyhole surgery. Teretek is a unique two-in-one solution that improves the foundation ground while also raising the structure back to level.
A number of retailers with similar issues have also used our Teretek solution, including Farmers Trading Company, one of New Zealand’s largest department store chains. One of their store’s foundations had started to experience significant subsidence resulting in undulating floors, creating potential trip hazards for both customers and employees. The issue had also resulted in the store’s shelves becoming unlevel, which affected merchandise displays. We were pleased to assist management to proactively fix the issue using Teretek.
Northwood Supa Centa is another large retail precinct that has benefited from Teretek. The centre suffered from liquefaction induced ground deformations following the 2010 and 2011 Christchurch earthquakes. Mainmark used Teretek in conjunction with JOG Computer-Controlled Grouting to strengthen the ground and re-level the shopping centre’s foundations, helping to return the building to 100% NBS (New Building Standard).
The above examples demonstrate how easy it can be for retailers to successfully remediate their structural issues and uneven floors quickly and discreetly outside trading hours, without leaving mess. This means businesses can open the following day and continue trading as usual.
Using Teretek can provide assurance to business and building owners, while creating a safer environment for customers, particularly those using wheelchairs and walking frames, or pushing trolleys and strollers.
While unsafe floors in public spaces can be a safety and liability risk, taking a proactive approach to fixing them can be surprisingly simple and cost effective and helps to deliver a better overall customer experience.
James O’Grady is the Sales and Business Development Manager at Mainmark. He is a civil engineer with 25 years’ experience in structural engineering, construction materials and ground treatment.