The Dangers Of Corroded Steel – True Stories From The Workplace

Often you will see us discussing the many advantages of our reinforced fiberglass grates and how they make more sense than steel grates. This is becoming more evident with the number of work related injuries due to corroded steel grating or other structures. While steel grating has often been used for decades; it is only because at the time it was the best option available. With the advancement in technology however, steel is not the best option anymore and can pose some serious safety hazards as well as financial burden. Many plants and other industrial workplaces are making the switch to more durable and flexible fiberglass grating from DEFI. The case against steel grating is quite solid and when it comes to having the safest workplace and the most economical structural solutions, steel just doesn’t make the cut. There are numerous reasons why steel grating is a fading trend and being replaced with fiberglass products.

THE DISADVANTAGES OF STEEL GRATING

Susceptible to Corrosion: Even galvanized steel grating doesn’t completely resist rust and corrosion. If steel grating comes in contact with a lot of moisture or certain chemicals it can rust and corrode quite quickly. This corrosion compromises the structural integrity of the grating producing a serious fall hazard for employees.

Expensive: The upfront cost is cheap, ($5-6 sq. ft. for galvanized grating). Add fabrication, re-galvanizing, and the man power (plus cranes/forklifts) to install it and now the cost has added up.

Not Very Flexible: Steel is a very rigid and heavy material, and this is some of its draw but also can be its downfall. While rigid is good for strength, it also makes it easier to dent from impact due to its rigid nature and having no flexibility.

Conducts Electricity: Because steel is a metal, it is highly conductive, which can be a bad thing in an environment with a risk of shock hazard. Workplaces such as a water treatment plant where water and electric tools and components work hand in hand can be an accident waiting to happen when using steel grating.

A CASE STUDY ON CORRODED STEEL

As you can see, steel grating can potentially cause some serious hazards in the workplace. DEFI has experienced that firsthand with one of our newest clients, a water treatment plant in The Woodlands, TX. We were called upon to replace their steel grating which had become corroded to the point of structural failure. Sadly, this corrosion was only detected because an employee performing their routine walkthrough stepped on a weak part of the grating and it gave way. The employee fell through the hole created by his stepping on the compromised section, and it cut him severely and left him injured; he needed 29 staples to heal his wounds and was unable to work for several months due to injuries.  Thankfully, now that plant has fiberglass grating from DEFI this will not be a hazard for anyone else again.

SIGNS OF CORRODED STEEL

This accident could’ve been avoided in a very economical and secure fashion had the workplace made the switch to fiberglass grating from DEFI. They ended up actually replacing that platform with our fiberglass product and now they have the advantages that brings. There is a lot to be learned from this tragic accident and while we understand replacing all steel grating at once is not always feasible, at least you can look for the signs of corrosion in steel grating before someone gets seriously injured or worse.

Severe Rust: Rust is one of the most common surefire signs that steel is corroded or nearing corrosion. Oxides that form on the steel due to exposure to electrolytes such as saltwater appear red or brown in nature. This rust will eventually eat through the steel until it is brittle and weak.

Pitting: Pitting is similar to the skin condition, acne in that literal pits or tiny holes appear in the surface of the steel due to mineral or chemical contact that cause the breakdown of the surface level. These pits can expand until the structure cracks or breaks apart.

Flaking And Thinning: Once rust has fully compromised a steel structure, layers of the steel will actually flake off and eventually the grating will become thin in places and continue to flake off layers.

If you are diligent in doing safety checks of your plant and building you can avoid corrosion going undetected. Make it a point to take note of potential corrosion hazards such as steel grating that is exposed to corrosive fumes, saltwater or excessive moisture. Identifying and monitoring these trouble spots will help you fix a problem before it is too late. Ultimately the best option if possible is to replace your steel grating with our fiberglass grating products. Even if you have to install one section at a time. When you make the smart switch to fiberglass grating from DEFI, you gain a lot of advantages.

ELIMINATE CORROSION HAZARDS WITH FIBERGLASS GRATING

Our reinforced fiberglass grating is the absolute best solution to increasing safety in the workplace and eliminating the dangers of steel corrosion. When you make the call to DEFI to improve your plant with our products you are getting quite the advantage over outdated steel grating.

Fiberglass Saves You Money: The most notable difference you will see when switching to fiberglass grating will be in your bottom line. Not many people realize just how inexpensive fiberglass is to purchase as well as maintain all while remaining incredibly durable. Our product is also much lighter; 1/3 the weight than steel yet possesses a higher strength to weight ratio. When you consider that our products do not warp or dent unlike steel; you can’t disagree with the value that fiberglass grating brings with it.

More Efficient And Economical:  When it comes to saving your company money without compromising on durability and strength, nothing beats fiberglass. Our grating products are so much more versatile than steel and can be used in any application including those steel just can’t be implemented in. Fiberglass grating products can be custom designed to your specific usage specifications and offer superior surface grip. Since our grating weighs so much less than steel grating, shipments of our product are only a fraction of what it costs for steel, this allows you to get more within your budget. It should also be noted that once installed, our fiberglass grating is practically maintenance free. You don’t have to worry about it cracking, corroding, rust or breakdown like steel does. Because of the resin makeup and gel coating on DEFI products, you basically get a huge ROI for a product that will last for decades.

Acoustic Profile: One of the most often overlooked hazards in the workplace is ambient sound levels. In some plants, not only can sound levels harm your hearing, but also distract from alerts of danger or machinery that you might be too close to. One of the many unique advantages of fiberglass material is their propensity to dampen noise, reducing echo and noise pollution in the workplace. Steel grating reflects even the slightest sounds and in some designs magnifies it. Using fiberglass grating dampens the sounds of footsteps and any equipment rolling across. When you factor in plant vehicles like forklifts, and pallet jacks, every bit of noise reduction helps.

Non-Conductive: Electrical hazards and accidents resulting from them are on the rise in many plants across the US. The increasing use of electronics and automated machinery means a lot more current is flowing through a plant floor than ever before. In some environments like chemical plants or water treatment plants, you encounter liquid near electric outlets and cord on a daily basis. If there were an accident and liquid spilled onto a floor and came in contact with electrical current on a steel floor; it would electrocute anyone standing on the floor even away from the spill. Fiberglass flooring and grating is non-conductive so this hazard is eliminated.

DON’T HAVE AN ACCIDENT LIKE THIS ONE

As you can see from our new client’s dilemma, corroding steel grating could’ve cost an employee’s life and put the company at a severe liability. Thankfully their employee will be ok but a costly lesson was learned. Steel corrodes, and corrosion is something you have to be on top of when you have steel grating in your plant. It requires constant maintenance and monitoring. Save yourself money in man hours spent on babysitting steel grating and make the switch to DEFI Fiberglass grating today. It costs far less than you think, and gives you a maintenance free solution to the age old problem of corroded steel. At DEFI we can help you design a custom product just for your needs and also work within your budget. Whether it is a completely new build, full retrofit, or phasing in fiberglass grating in stages DEFI has you covered.

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