“All Floors are Slippery When Wet — Right?”

Not right. The right flooring for the situation can be safely slip-resistant when wet or even when lubricated with oil or grease, as in a commercial kitchen or a parking structure.

Most people will accept that a concrete sidewalk or a black-top road is slip-resistant wet for pedestrians. We can safety walk or even jog on such a surface when it’s wet. We also hope that a swimming pool deck will be slip-resistant wet, since children and even sober adults are likely to run or engage in horseplay around a pool.

Nevertheless, at Safety Direct America we get phone calls every day from people who find themselves or their elderly parents in a perilous situation — or in a hospital — because of a slippery floor, tub, shower, or pool deck. We can help remedy the situation with transparent coatings, paints, anti-slip tapes, or chemical treatments. However, it’s better that the situation not arise in the first place.

A regretfully common practice is to design a hazard (slippery floor) into a property, and then post signs to warn visitors of the hazard. Bad design and bad safety practice. Besides, the warning is sometimes not seen, and if seen might not be heeded. If you work in a high-rise office building and see “wet floor” signs in the lobby when you enter one morning, what should you do? Go home and stay there until a day when it’s not raining? Sometimes there’s no other apparent solution except to accept the risk of injury just so you can get to the elevator. If you’re into motorcycle racing you might be in the habit of accepting risk, but to get injured just trying to cross a lobby floor to get to a desk job? Not cool.

The correct flooring for a slippery situation is best designed into a building (or a cruise ship) from the get-go. The floor can be concrete, ceramic tile, terrazzo, resilient, or wood, for instance. The key is slip testing the flooring for slip resistance before it’s purchased and installed. For our recommendations of wet slip resistance for safety in various situations — not “one size fits all” — click here.

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