In February of 2022, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) issued a revised version of their “Test Method for Measuring Dynamic Coefficient of Friction of Hard Surface Flooring Materials.” The test method is called ANSI A326.3, and it sets a very low bar for DCOF in various flooring areas. Slip and fall accidents will likely occur on your property if you rely solely on this test method to assess the slip resistance of a floor. This test is not intended for assessing slip risk. In fact, page one of the test method states, “…it can provide a useful comparison of surfaces, but does not predict the likelihood a person will or will not slip on a hard surface flooring material.” Situation-specific recommended minimum DCOF values range from 0.42 to 0.55, but those numbers are not intended to imply you have a safe floor if you achieve those low minimum DCOF rating values. As in previous versions of this test created mostly by representatives of the American tile industry, this one has important caveats. For example, “The specifier shall determine materials appropriate for specific project conditions, considering by way of example, but not in limitation,
“type of use,
“expected wear, and
“manufacturers’ guidelines and recommendations.”
The caveats are the most crucially important parts of this standard! We will suggest a way of dealing with them. (There are also additional caveats and disclaimers in other parts of the standard.)
The standard gives no suggestions for how to evaluate the six factors above. It stands to reason that if these six factors (and others) are ignored (as they usually are) or not considered adequately, meeting the minimum DCOF number (e.g., 0.42 or 0.55) is virtually meaningless. According to pendulum test data, as well as real-world observations, a floor can be very slippery and still exceed the 0.42 criterion.
The ANSI standard totals 17 pages, and it and any updates are available free from Tile Council of North America (TCNA). We shall not try to detail it here, but the TCNA is the same organization that spent nearly two decades wreaking havoc across the USA by promoting the use of the utterly misleading ASTM C1028 test, before it had to be withdrawn by the ASTM for being so meaningless and dangerous. C1028 was likely the cause on tens of thousands of preventable slip and fall accidents over those two decades.ASTM C1028 said almost all floors were not slippery, and gave “passing” ratings to the most slippery floors in existence.
We suggest that pendulum DCOF slip resistance test data be used to assess whether a flooring is suitable for a specific application. This is the basis for our “Recommended Slip Test Package,” which includes both (1) an ANSI A326.3 DCOF AcuTest using the BOT-3000E (to satisfy those who have been fooled into believing this test is based on good science), and (2) a DCOF test using the pendulum slip resistance tester, which has a peer-reviewed published national standard in at least 50 nations and has been in use since 1971 (to assess the real-world slip resistance of a floor based on good science and over 50 years of international research). The pendulum is the most commonly used pedestrian slip tester in use worldwide.
Some recommended minimum DCOF values (with caveats) for level surfaces from the new ANSI A326.3 are as follows:
Interior, dry 0.42 (page 2 of the standard)
Interior, wet with water 0.42 (p. 2)
Interior, wet plus (as declared by manufacturer; including barefoot areas) 0.50 (p. 5)
Exterior, wet 0.55 (p. 5)
Oils, greases 0.55 (p. 6)
These minimum values can still allow for very slippery floors to be installed in areas where they will certainly cause problems, so we recommend pendulum DCOF testing to assess real-world slip resistance of flooring and avoid slip accidents on your property. The BOT-3000E used in the ANSI A326.3 DCOF Test can suffer from a phenomenon called stiction (the rubber slider sticks to certain polished floors giving erroneous high readings), which allows the machine to give excellent scores to polished concrete and polished stone. This could have those fooled by this floor slippage test polishing their pool decks! (Talk about a personal injury attorney’s dream come true!?) A British pendulum standard simply recommends a minimum wet Pendulum Test Value (PTV wet) of 36 or higher for level floors that are liable to get wet in use for a rating of “low slip potential”. However, since 1999 Australia has had a detailed set of PTV wet standards that are specific to many different situations. Recommended minimum wet PTV values in that standard range from 12 to 55.
We suggest that the appropriate Australian Pendulum Test Value minimum, or a minimum for a situation of similar applicability, be applied instead of the ANSI A326.3 test results for DCOF. ASTM E303-22 is very much similar to the Australian pendulum test now that it was updated and revised in 2022. We recommend using ASTM E303 to assess floor safety using the latest American slip resistance test.
Stuck with an existing floor that’s had complaints of slips? Coat it with our transparent, long-wearing SparkleTuff™ Anti-Slip Floor Coating. It can retain its wet slip resistance after more than a million people have walked across it. The floor need only be clean and dry to apply SparkleTuff™ using the roller cover we supply. We have yet to find a flooring to which SparkleTuff™ won’t adhere!