Safety flooring is important, most obviously, to reduce the risk of slips, trips and falls. But what factors should workplace and facilities managers take into consideration when choosing an appropriate slip-resistant floor covering?
According to the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE’s) Slip Potential Model, key factors affecting slips are:
- Environmental and human factors.
Safety flooring is perhaps the best and most targeted measure to take to reduce slip risks. So whether you’re looking for safety flooring for a busy kitchen, the entrance of a building, or a wet and potentially slippery changing room, it is important to note that there is an individual flooring solution to suit each and every scenario.
A commercial kitchen area that could have cooking oil or grease on the floor will need a safety flooring that is higher in friction than flooring used in a building’s reception area, where the main contaminants are likely to be water and dirt walked in from the outside. As such, the first element to consider when looking at safety flooring is how they are tested and what the slip ratings mean.
The Pendulum Test
The Pendulum Test is recommended by the HSE to assess the slip resistance of floor surfaces. The test can assess slip resistance in both dry and contaminated conditions and measures the coefficient of friction of a floor surface to provide a slip potential classification. The UK Slip Resistance Group and HSE guidelines demonstrate that a pendulum test value (PTV) of zero to 24 indicates high slip potential, a PTV of 24 to 35 signifies moderate slip potential, meanwhile a PTV of 36 or higher is classified as low slip risk.
R Value Test
Slip-resistance performance here is based on ramp test ratings; and “an R Value” is often quoted. However, it is a common misconception that R10 floor coverings are extremely slip-resistant, with some people believing that the scale starts at R1, when in fact it starts at R9.
Ramp test values are based on ex-factory testing and do not take account of changes in slip-resistant properties that could occur during the working life of the floor covering. DIN51130 ramp test values should not, therefore, be considered in isolation.
The European standard
Another important factor to consider is the long-term slip resistance of flooring in use. EN13845:2017 is the European standard for PVC floor coverings with particle-based (e.g., carborundum, crystals) enhanced slip resistance, commonly referred to as safety floors.
The test methods referenced in this standard for determining slip resistance of floor coverings are wet tests, both barefoot and with footwear, based on the Ramp and Pendulum Tests.
Products can be classified as ESf (Enhanced Slip for use with footwear) or ESb (Enhanced Slip for barefoot use) to this standard (or both).
Whilst the performance classifications are also based on ex-factory testing, this standard includes a durability (abrasion) test to support claims of sustainable slip resistance throughout the life of the floor covering.
Understanding the slip resistance of floor surfaces and how it is assessed when selecting the correct floor covering for an area is just one, albeit important, aspect of pedestrian safety.
People are unlikely to slip on a clean, dry floor. Prevention of contamination, prompt and effective removal of contaminants and the use of correct and effective cleaning methods are just a few other examples of practical advice offered by the HSE to help reduce slips and trips.
Pendulum testing can be used to provide a useful insight into the effectiveness of cleaning and maintenance or to monitor the performance of a floor surface over its service life.