Role of manufacturers and suppliers of flooring
Employers seeking to procure new flooring must have the right information to enable them to source products which are suitable for preventing slips and trips. It is essential that they can be sure that the product description gives a good indication of how the flooring will perform in its intended use and how it should be cleaned and maintained. Furthermore, manufacturers and suppliers have a legal duty to provide accurate descriptions of their products.
Flooring - Interpretation of manufacturers' data
Slip-resistant flooring materials should be accompanied by manufacturers' data in respect of resistance to slips. Technical data on the slipperiness of flooring is often quoted simply as coefficient of friction (CoF). This should be viewed with caution as the type of CoF test used can have a critical effect on the validity of the data.
Slipperiness data can also be presented in other formats which are potentially misleading. For example, R9 slip resistance according to DIN 51130 can be presented as being 'good slip resistance' when in fact this result represents the most slippery category on a scale running from R9 to R13. Floor surfaces which are classified as R9 (or in some instances R10) are likely to be unacceptably slippery when used in wet or greasy conditions.
HSL has developed a reliable and robust test method for the assessment of floor surface slipperiness in workplace and public areas. The methodology developed is based on the use of two instruments:
- the Pendulum coefficient of friction tester and,
- a surface micro roughness (Rz) meter.
Manufacturers are encouraged to test and specify the slip-resistance of their flooring products in terms of these two measures – Rz and CoF. See ' Assessing the slip resistance of flooring' for more information.
It should be noted that suppliers' information normally relates to 'as supplied' products and hence does not take account of:
- Contaminants introduced during the construction/laying process;
- Degradation, wear, maintenance and use,
all of which can significantly affect the actual resistance to slip. Suppliers can help procurers by facilitating trials of flooring samples in the workplace to help them identify the right products for their needs. Advice on the selection of flooring is also given in CIRIA document Safer surfaces to walk on - reducing the risk of slipping.
There are several Slips and trips case studies from different work environments which show how the right choice of flooring can help to reduce accidents.