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Sustainable slip resistance: Real-life observation

Supplier: Global Safe Technologies By: Tibor Bode
02 August, 2010

The maintenance manager of this Australian media icon was shocked when seeing the report of their regular annual independent slip resistance testing.

The wet pendulum test of the bathroom floors where new tiles were laid just 9 months earlier, shown a mean (British Pendulum Number) BPN 28, which meant that the tiled surface was not only under the relevant slip resistance standard recommended value of BPN 35 or above (Class X), but also greatly increased the risk of a slip and fall incident. This result was especially dramatic as the new tiles before installation were rated to a considerably higher value of BPN 55 (Class V).

Global Safe Technologies were called to investigate and reason and to rectify the issue. The consultant attended the site and observed that bathroom surface was very well maintained with no excess chemicals on the surface and no mechanically aggressive cleaning method was employed – surfaces were mopped – so cleaning could not cause such a dramatic deterioration of the surface slip resistance.

Alternative reasons like application of inappropriate surface sealing product was also discarded. Then the consultant suggested that the tiles be submitted to accelerated wear test to find out whether they just simply worn out.

Safe Environments was engaged to conduct the accelerated wear test which has provided some very surprising results and also give an explanation of the gross reduction in slip resistance. The table and graph below shows the test results.
As a result, Global Safe proposed that its environmentally friendly, sustainable WearMax clear anti slip coating solution be installed onto the existing tiled surfaces which were independently tested after installation to show a compliance with relevant slip resistance standards.  

Currently accepted interpretation of the result, that 5000 cycles means that it may be from 2 years onwards and is speculative at this stage. It is generally stated  that 100 cycles equates to about 6-8 weeks use, 500 cycles to about 6 months to 1 year use, 1000 cycles 1-2 years use and 5000 cycles about 2 years+. The accelerated wear test while is NOT an exact indication for ALL environments and situations, but will at least give an indication of expected useful life of the pedestrian walking surface. 

This result also has shown that high initial slip resistance does not mean sustainable slip resistance and pure reliance of a single slip resistance result can provide some very unpleasant surprises. This specific example is not the only one. Other accelerated wear test results by Safe Environments, have occasionally also shown very rapid reduction of slip resistance of the tile being tested.

So, how can be ensured that a tile or any other surface will provide sustainable slip resistance?

Architects, specifiers, builders and other purchasers prior to committing themselves to a specific product should not simply rely on a slip resistance test, but also should insist on an accelerated wear test of the proposed surface. 

Having an accelerated wear test will provide several advantages, namely:

  • Prevention of slip and fall injuries on prematurely worn surfaces;
  • Prevention of potentially very expensive litigation;
  • Prevention of additional cost for remedial treatment;
  • Proactive risk and cost management by having and estimated life cycle of the solution, so remedial action can be budgeted in the future.

Another important issue that apart from very specific environments – oil contaminated and wet bare foot traffic – the slip resistance specification should specify not only an initial, but a sustainable Wet Pendulum rating of the proposed surface, not a Ramp rating. It is also strongly recommended that after installation of a surface  independent slip resistance test be performed and be part of the overall documentation. 

Global Safe Technologies has almost its entire solution range accelerated wear tested. The company being the  industry leader, also provides independent slip resistance testing after installation to commercial clients  as an integral part of any floor safety solution at no additional cost.* This test result being art of the overall handover documentation, will give assurance to the client that the solution provided is fully compliant with relevant slip resistance standards.

Would like more information on accelerated wear test please feel free to visit Safe Environments' website www.safeenvironments.com.au or contact them on +612 9624 2600. 

Regarding to sustainable remedial treatments please feel free to visit our website in Australia www.globalsafe.com.au or contact us directly in Australia on 1300 668 620 or on +612 9609 4685 from other countries.

In New Zealand please visit out Safety Surface network partner's website www.globalsafe.co.nz and in North America please visit another network partner's website www.tilesafe.ca