Slip resistance: Know your Rs from your pendulum
Paul Rogers, technical specification manager at Forbo Flooring Systems, explains how to assess the slip resistance of flooring:
ONE slip or trip accident occurs every three minutes, according to the Health and Safety Executive. Slips and trips are the most common cause of injuries in the workplace and are responsible for over a third of all reported accidents that lead to injury. In addition to the extra cost for both employers and society, there is the human suffering caused by accidents.
Contractors have an obligation to ensure they specify the right flooring for a particular environment, to reduce the number of slip accidents.
Where the need for a safety floor is identified, contractors should only specify products that meet Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and European Standard requirements. The HSE and UK Slip Resistance Group (UKSRG), measure slip resistance using the Pendulum test; this measures the coefficient of friction of a floor surface and the results are used to provide a slip potential classification. A pendulum test value (PTV) of 36 or higher is classified as low slip risk. www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/geis2.htm
Clean, dry floors generally provide a PTV of greater than 36, so for safety flooring, wet PTV is quoted by manufacturers as this is the most common condition in which these floors are used.
Micro surface roughness measurements can also be used alongside the Pendulum test for an additional indication of slip risk with different contaminants. For example, in wet conditions a surface roughness of 20 microns indicates a low slip risk (more viscous contaminants, such as oil, will require a higher surface roughness).
EN 13845 is the European Standard that ensures the sustainability of slip resistance in vinyl flooring. It concerns PVC flooring with particle enhanced slip resistance (safety flooring). This standard specifies requirements that must be met to ensure durable slip resistance in varying degrees of usage intensity.
Flooring manufactured and tested to this standard should be classified ESf for applications where the risk is primarily related to users in footwear. For applications where barefoot use is encountered look for Class ESb. EN 13845 also contains an abrasion test to ensure the slip resistant properties of the flooring are maintained throughout their expected life.
A number of ramp based tests are also quoted by manufacturers; DIN51097 for products used in barefoot applications, while DIN51033 is a commonly quoted slip test standard used widely in Europe to assess slip resistance and is applied to both smooth and safety floors.
The classification scale ranges from R9 (the lowest) to R13 (the highest) and this can cause confusion. Whilst safety floors achieve at least R10 and often higher, not all R10 floors are safety floors.
Don’t assume that an R10 rated floor will provide the same performance standards of safety flooring.
It is important therefore, to discuss the application of ramp based test results with your flooring manufacturer to get a clear picture of how they should be used and how they compare to in terms of the specification requirements.
Finally, the floorcovering should not be relied upon as the sole solution in the management of slip risk. Using an appropriate entrance system, good cleaning and maintenance regimes and appropriate footwear are some examples of measures to aid the management of slip risk. www.forbo-flooring.co.uk