Some of the biggest challenges facing manufacturing and warehousing facilities are ongoing maintenance and safety hazards.
When reviewing your workplace health and safety practices and business efficiencies, ask yourself, are the foundations beneath your warehouse, loading dock, transport hub and driveway stable?
Many structural issues are caused by uneven ground. Sloping or sinking floors in buildings or cracks appearing in transport yard pavements or driveways may be signs of unstable ground, often caused by subsidence, which can cause structural issues.
Consider the following:
- Sinking or sloping floors immediately create trip and fall hazards, while also affecting 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.
- Pay attention to cracked or uneven floors, sinking concrete slabs, sloping floors or shelving that has become un-level. As well as affecting 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. In warehouse and manufacturing environments, 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 also 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. Over time, heavy machinery and vehicles may exacerbate underlying ground issues or voids that have formed beneath foundations.
Manufacturing facilities and warehouses are environments that require a vigilant approach to workplace health and safety. In fact, manufacturing was described in the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022 as a priority industry. The sector is also one of the country’s largest employers.
For all organisations large or small, it’s important to identify and address any workplace hazards, and to act quickly to rectify those that have potential to cause injury. 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.
It’s also important to be aware that delaying treatment of pavements and slabs affected by subsidence can increase structural damage and the risk of failure. 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 leads to even more damage and increased subsidence.
There are solutions available to fix underlying structural issues quickly, unobtrusively and cost effectively, with minimal disruption to daily operations.
In a process likened to keyhole surgery, Mainmark’s proprietary Teretek® engineered resin injection solution is applied under the ground to help raise, re-level, and re-support buildings and other above-ground structures.
Teretek is a unique two-in-one solution that delivers both ground improvement and re-levelling, whilst increasing ground bearing capacity and filling voids.
Recently, Teretek was used at a busy transport yard where unstable soils and voids that formed under the concrete pavements caused subsidence, resulting in the slab moving every time a vehicle drove over it.
Teretek was used to fill the voids, return the slab to level, and “stitch” broken sections of the slab back together. The project was successfully completed in a single day with minimal disruption to operations, and avoiding the expense of excavation or replacing concrete.
In another case, a large department store experienced significant differential floor settlement, also due to underlying soil subsidence. The thick concrete floor slabs had sunk unevenly, creating a trip hazard and compromising merchandise, as well as causing shelves to become un-level.
Teretek was successfully used to raise and re-level the floor over four nights, without disrupting daily operations.
As these examples demonstrate, it is possible to successfully remediate structural issues and uneven floors quickly and discreetly, outside of key operational hours, and with minimal disruption or mess. This often means work can resume and continue as usual, while providing some assurance to business owners that they are providing a safer environment for their staff.
By Laurie Andrews
Laurie Andrews is Mainmark’s Business Development Manager for NSW & ACT. Laurie is a qualified civil and structural engineer with nearly 30 years experience working in the construction and engineering industry.