Seamless, Sanitary Floors Reduce Risk of Bacterial Contamination in Industries from Food to Pharmaceutical to Work Spaces

by Scott Garstka, Manager Global Accounts, Stonhard

Reduction of pathogens, as it relates to building products is front-of-mind for many and spans a broad range of industries. Unquestionably, food and beverage, pharmaceutical and healthcare have their own specific challenges when it comes to selecting hygienic building materials. Commercial environments are vulnerable to the need for effective sanitary measures as well. Schools and universities, retail and now, work environments, strive to provide hygienic, safe environments.

Floors are a critical building component because they are an avenue for the possibility of cross contamination. Tracking bacteria by foot or wheels is a serious issue for any environment.

Seamless, resinous flooring is poured-in-place and therefore has no welds or joints, making it impervious and inherently hygienic. In addition, many seamless floors provide a long list of additional benefits, such as chemical resistance, resistance to thermal cycling and a year after year, long-term floor solution. Understanding how seamless floors can protect environments while supporting sanitary design makes decision making a far less complicated process.

FOOD & BEVERAGE INDUSTRY
Hygienic concerns for the food and beverage industry are closely tied to the dangerous risk of foodborne illness. Foodborne illnesses lead to recalls, high costs for remediation, and can be catastrophic for a food manufacturer’s reputation.

The food industry has taken steps to reduce risk by trying to employ standards such as the 11 Principles of Hygienic Design

Additionally, there has been a shift away from chlorinated cleaning agents and a pivot toward peracetic acid-based systems (PAA) to help fight listeria and other pathogens such as Covid 19.

In Europe, there is a dedicated group of end users and manufacturers who created standards known as the European Hygienic Engineering & Design Group (EHEDG), In both, the US and Europe, their emphasis is on reducing failures at critical control points, such as transitions between floor and wall and floor and drains.  Resinous flooring is an ideal solution for these points. 

Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP), is utilized in many plants globally to help reduce risk.  Stonhard has certified HACCP International systems, such as Stonclad UT.

See Stonhard’s Stonclad UT, a seamless, urethane-based floor that does not give bacteria a surface in which to replicate. Seamless by design, no joints to trap bacteria and formulated to withstand the constant cleaning necessary in specific environments.

PHARMACEUTICAL/BIOTECH INDUSTRY
Pharmaceutical manufacturers are confronted with unique standards as it relates to sterile environments. Here are two factors pharmaceutical manufacturers should consider when selecting flooring for these spaces. 

The first is chemical resistance. In many cases pharmaceutical production areas require aggressive cleaning agents such as Spor-Klenz and many require stainless steel cleaners that harm a variety of commercially available flooring such as vinyl. 

Stonhard utilizes clear, urethane-based sealers in areas that require these harsh chemicals.

The second factor is a mix of details and durability. Making sure there are only smooth surface transitions and having mechanical protection of the floor and cove are critical for protecting against the larger problem of bacterial infection in any transition points.  Read about best practices for sanitization here: American Pharmaceutical Review

Critical control points are the main cause of bacterial contamination and again, chemically-resistant hard surface materials are needed.

Stonhard utilizes mortar-based systems specifically designed in partnership with the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies.

HEALTHCARE
In the healthcare sector, planners and decision makers look for evidence-based practice when selecting materials to combat healthcare associated infections (HAI). Clean does not always mean sterile. A clean VCT, or vinyl composition tile, commonly used in hospitals, can still harbor bacteria in the seams between each tile. The same holds true for soft-surface materials, such as carpet. Soft-surface materials should be avoided because bacteria can replicate within the surface.

Resinous flooring is seamless and this eliminates places where contaminants collect and bacteria grow. Resinous floors, because they are formulated for chemical resistance and can withstand changes in temperatures (hot and cold water cleaning), don’t break down when exposed to continuous cleaning from chlorine, bleach and acidic-based cleaners. The weldless surface, along with high performance features make this poured-in-place floor a perfect choice for a sterile field in surgical theatre, lobbies, labs or restrooms.

In 2016, Crothall Healthcare commissioned a white paper on how to reduce healthcare-associated infections.  Since then, hospital architects and facility staff have considered floors a component in effectively eliminating bacterial contamination.  

There are also groups that combine the healthcare professional’s knowledge with manufacturing companies.  In Europe, a group has been formed called Clean Hospitals to help reduce HAI.

Proper hygienic design details can prevent the spread of bacterial contamination in a variety of industries. For many industries, sanitary regulations have been the norm and companies who provide building materials for these industries work with them to support their goals. This has not changed. With the challenges facing the world due to COVID-19, there is an even greater sense of urgency to follow stringent hygiene practices for everyone. Sanitary and hygienic guidelines apply to more spaces, such as work environments and retail stores. Resinous flooring supports sanitary practices and help organizations to meet directives. Seamless flooring is naturally hygienic. Successful sanitary solutions can be employed in facilities for any industry when an experienced and knowledgeable manufacturer and installer is selected.

 

Stonhard currently has HACCP International Certification on six flooring products used within the food and beverage industry. We are committed to providing safe and sanitary products for industry, and in doing so, have partnered with Blucher drains and PolySto wall curbs to provide a Total Hygienic Solution. Our seamless epoxy, urethane, and MMA non-porous flooring systems can meet the requirements of any space, industrial or commercial, and ensure the highest level of hygiene a floor can provide.