How to Address Sweating Slab Syndrome
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were approximately 240,160 nonfatal workplace injuries due to falls, slips, and trips in 2018. An additional 791 fatal incidents were attributed to the same cause. One major reason for these slips and falls is Sweating Slab Syndrome (SSS), sometimes referred to as concrete sweating - an issue that has plagued warehouses and left countless tenants, landlords, and contractors scratching their heads.
Why Does Concrete Sweat and What is Sweating Slab Syndrome
The phenomenon known as Sweating Slab Syndrome occurs when moisture collects on a surface (usually concrete), creating slippery conditions that pose a danger to workers, equipment, and products.
There are a number of causes of SSS:
● Dew Point Condensation - The leading cause of SSS is when warm, moist air meets cooler floors below the dew point temperature. Typically, this is when warmer outside air enters the building through an open loading dock, windows, or the ventilation system, then comes in contact with a much cooler floor. Though this can occur year-round anywhere in the world, it is most problematic in warmer regions or during the spring and fall seasons when warm, humid air during the day settles on floors that have cooled during the night.
● Salt Buildup - Another common cause is salt and other hygroscopic substances that build up on the floor, which then absorb moisture from the air. This, paired with the condensation issue above, leads to slick conditions.
● Dirty Slabs - Tire marks, debris, and other grime can also impact the porousness of your floors, making it more likely that moisture will build up on the surface.
What are the Risks of Concrete Sweating?
When concrete sweats, they can create serious hazards for your products, your equipment and, most importantly, your employees. Even small amounts of moisture buildup can create slick floors that can cause employees to slip and fall. In fact, slick floors are one of the leading causes of workers’ compensation claims.
From an equipment perspective, sweating slabs can make it difficult for forklifts, carts, and other equipment to stop, which could lead to them crashing into walls, other equipment and people or even sliding off loading docks. Not only does this cause expensive damage, but it could put your employees’ health at risk.
Moisture buildup can also damage products by dampening packaging and paper or by rusting metal. In most cases, this will cost you even more money as those products may become unusable.
How to Prevent Sweating Slabs?
Depending on the cause of your sweating slabs, there are a number of solutions available.
● HVLS Fans - By far the simplest and most cost-effective solution, a high volume, low speed fan can significantly reduce or even eliminate Sweating Slab Syndrome. These fans rotate large amounts of air throughout your facility to minimize ceiling-to-floor temperature differentials. They also increase surface evaporation to prevent moisture from pooling on the floors.
● Moisture control and HVAC Systems - Heating and air conditioning can better control temperatures in your warehouse, which limits the opportunity for moisture to collect on your warehouse floors. Unfortunately, this solution is often impractical for warehouses and other large structures, which can be expensive to heat and cool.
● Use Floor Treatments with Caution - Avoid surface densifiers, paints, coatings and sealers as they may interfere with the porousness of the concrete and make Sweating Slab Syndrome worse.
● Regular Maintenance - Ensuring that your warehouse floor is regularly cleaned and maintained with commercial cleaning agents can go a long way in preventing condensation. Dirty or damaged warehouse floors might seem like small issues at first, but they can be costly to replace later if left unchecked.
If you’re struggling with slick floors in your warehouse, get in touch to learn how Rite-Hite’s industry leading HVLS fans can help.
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Published: 1/24/2017 and Updated: 8/11/2020