Reliable floor slip resistance test devices include the pendulum floor slip resistance tester and the SlipAlert Tribometer (now known as the iAlert), which both measure the dynamic coefficient of friction (DCOF) of floors. In the United States of America, we have in the past (and present) allowed tile manufacturers and people who make their living lying in court for slip and fall lawyers to create American floor slip resistance test methods (through the ASTM and ANSI) that say slippery floors aren’t slippery This helps major American tile manufacturers sell slippery tile, and helps expert liars defend lawsuits for well-paying rich building owners with slippery floors. There’s big money in the tile industry and in the slip and fall injury industry, so unscrupulous salespeople and “slip and fall expert witnesses” sprang up to meet the need for fake and bogus tests that miraculously deemed slippery floors not slippery.
See some of these fake floor slip resistance tests in action in the below video:
These fake slip tests included static coefficient of friction (SCOF) tests (which measures how slippery a floor is to someone who is simply standing still – or static – on it), tests that measured “slip index” (such as the English XL and Brungraber Mark IIIB, which are the darlings of “expert court liars” since they almost always say a floor isn’t slippery), and other tests that were not based on any peer-reviewed research into real-world slip and fall accidents. The latest flawed American test designed to say slippery floors aren’t slippery is ANSI A326.3 (also known by it’s cute marketing name “DCOF AcuTest”) which can be useful in comparing surfaces or monitoring changes in slip resistance over time (due to maintenance practices or wear), but this test is not reliable for assessing your slip risk, and the test method says so in black and white on page one of the test method. To say your floor is not slippery because the BOT-3000E told you so is to either claim you can’t read the ANSI A326.3 test method, or it’s just plain fraud.
Dry floors that are kept clean in use have excellent slip resistance when the floor is polished or otherwise very flat. Our shoe sole makes maximum contact with a polished clean and dry floor which allows for maximum grip. This is why you see polished wood floors on basketball courts and volleyball courts. As long as these surfaces are kept clean and dry, they will have an incredible grip for the athletes, but you don’t want to get these types of floors wet! That is why you will see an entire crew of people employed to mop up every single drop of sweat on a professional basketball court every single time play stops. These polished floors are very slippery when wet, and every basketball court owner knows this very well.
Wet floor slip resistance is a completely different animal than dry floor slip resistance. When a floor is clean and dry, we want our shoe sole to make maximum contact with the floor, so polished floors are fantastic for dry slip resistance. But with wet slip resistance, the chance of hydroplaning on top of water (or sweat or dust or a spilled drink) which leads to a slip and fall injury is quite high on a polished floor. One study found that a heel slip of three inches led to a fall 50% of the time in young adults, so it doesn’t take much water (or other contaminant) on a floor to cause someone to hit the deck and possibly get injured. For older people (and there’s lots of them around these days), we can assume the number of people that will fall to the hard ground after hydroplaning/slipping for just a few inches goes up quite a bit.
We get wet slip resistance from floors that have sharp points on top of the flooring surface (such as the sharp points found on “broomed” concrete sidewalks, gritty anti-slip floor grip tape, and asphalt parking lots), or floors that have pores within the surface of the floor that will act like tiny suction cups when they get filled with water. You see these “pores” often around pools where some of the concrete has been “salt-cured” to create these types of large pores in the surface, but often these pores are microscopic.
See what helps floors have good wet floor slip resistance in the video below:
There is no other way to get wet slip resistance known to humankind. Pores and sharp points. That’s it. You may have a seemingly polished glossy floor that has microscopic pores and sharp points on it that are invisible to the naked eye, but that wouldn’t be a truly polished floor. If the floor is polished, it will be slippery when wet (or otherwise lubricated with dust and/or other wet or dry contaminants). There is no magic solution to this fact of physics.
Polished floors will always be slippery when wet because there’s nothing to stop you from slipping once you start to hydroplane. If your American-made floor slip resistance test device (or tribometer) is saying that your polished floor isn’t slippery, chances are your floor slip tester is suffering from stiction or some other phenomenon that’s giving you false data. “Stiction” is where the rubber on the bottom of the floor coefficient of friction (COF) test device sticks to the floor with suction. The tribometer is then getting false readings based on something that will not do a pedestrian in the real world any good. These types of flawed floor slip resistance test devices have been very popular in the USA over the past few decades because flooring manufacturers love to use fake data obtained from them to help them sell their slippery floors. Americans love shiny, glossy, polished floors, so tile manufacturers created fake tests saying that these floors posed no slip risk. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
The ASTM C1028 SCOF test was the most famous of the “fake slip tests”, and after two decades of the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) promoting it for the benefit of major American tile manufacturers, the ASTM finally had to withdraw this misleading and bogus test forever in 2014. ANSI B101.1 was created in 2009 to mimic ASTM C1028, and once ASTM C 1028 was withdrawn, there was no use for ANSI B101.1. It was just as useless in predicting pedestrian slip risk in the real world as ASTM C1028.
Some unscrupulous companies continue to make a living using these debunked fake slip resistance tests, and they are certainly adding to the confusion and slip and fall injury epidemic in the USA. UL 410 and NFSI B101.1 (National Floor Safety Institute) are two SCOF tests that continue to wreak havoc on innocent pedestrians who must either sit in hospital beds after slipping on a wet polished floor that was deemed “not slippery” by a fake American test method, or on building owners who must defend serious slip and fall injury lawsuits on their properties after being duped by false data from these unscrupulous companies that specialize in giving flooring manufacturers and building owners the fake data they need to help sell and install slippery floors in areas that get wet or otherwise lubricated in use, creating dangerous situations for innocent pedestrians. Polished floors look nice! Some building owners will choose good looking floors over the safety of the people using them.
The rest of the world uses tribometers (floor slip resistance test devices) that have been proven to help eliminate slip and fall accidents by properly identifying slippery floors so that remedial action can be taken. Not all floors need to be slip resistant when wet. Take basketball courts, for example. They maximize grip for athletes when the floor is clean and dry, and great care is taken to always keep the floors that way. If you know your floors are slippery when wet, you can do what you need to do to keep them clean, dry, and therefore safe. The produce aisle of a grocery store, for instance, should be slip resistant when wet because the produce is often sprayed with water that ends up on the floor, but most grocery aisles, if kept clean with the use of “sweep sheets where employees monitor the floors for spills on a regular basis, don’t need wet slip resistance. The can be glossy and shiny and super easy to clean with a dry mop.
If you think your polished floor is not slippery when wet because some bogus SCOF test peddler told you so, then you’ll just have to wait for the first slip and fall injury lawsuit to come roaring in. And likely it will. Using outdated, withdrawn and unproven test methods in court to convince a jury that your polished floor wasn’t slippery at the time the pedestrian suffered a life-altering injury that you could have prevented if you had used reliable, published, internationally-accepted test methods for measuring the slip resistance of floors is not the “roll of the dice” most people like to take with their money, but that’s what you’re doing if you rely on outdated and/or flawed test methods like ANSI A326.3, ASTM C1028, UL 410, NFSI B101.1, ASTM F1677 and ASTM F1679.
When ASTM C1028 was withdrawn, the TCNA desperately needed a way to help their benefactors sell slippery tile, so they created ANSI A326.3. The “DCOF AcuTest” can also suffer from stiction and the rubber used has an affinity for concrete floors (it sticks to concrete, even if it just a part of a terrazzo floor). See the first video above showing the BOT-3000E falsely reporting that a polished marble floor in a fancy hotel wasn’t slippery when wet (which made everyone on site roll with laughter) and again falsely reporting that polished concrete inside a fancy department store wasn’t slippery when wet either. Ask that department strore’s lawyer if that polished concrete floor is slippery. You probably won’t get laughter from that attorney – they’re too busy defending multiple slip and fall lawsuits right now to laugh.
ASTM E303-22 was created to mimic the pendulum DCOF slip resistance test methods used across Europe, the United Kingdom, Australia, China, India, Singapore, Israel, New Zealand, and numerous other nations to accurately help identify slippery floors. The pendulum doesn’t suffer from stiction and is easily the world’s most trusted and well-researched slip resistance test device. It gives us the truth so we can avoid needless slip and fall accidents occurring. It has been in use around the world for 50 years for this purpose. The SlipAlert (now sold as the iAlert) has been shown to closely correlate with the pendulum DCOF floor tester in its results.
I often tell clients: we all know from the time we’re about three years old that polished floors are slippery when wet. Once we’ve all fallen on our diaper a few times, it sinks in. Shiny floors that are wet need to be walked on carefully and gingerly with a wider-than-normal gait. We all know this inherently, and if you have a tribometer telling you something different, then you probably have a tribometer with an inherent problem. Polished floors all lack grip in the wet condition, and reliable slip resistance test methods will tell you what we all know – shiny, glossy, polished floors are slippery when wet.