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Slip Resistance Safety for Industrial and Commercial Areas

Minimum wet slip resistance values (as wet Pendulum Test Values) for safety in many publicly accessible areas are listed elsewhere on this blog. But what about industrial areas used for very slippery operations like meat or fish processing, making mayonnaise or refining cooking oils, and for aircraft repair hangars?

Guidance for these, recommended since 1999, are given in Standards Australia HB 197:1999. A brief summary is in the table below. Slip resistance of flooring is categorized by R9 (minimum slip resistance) to R13 (strong slip resistance) as rated by a variable-angle ramp walking test. The full table from Standards Australia includes 167 types of areas.

Of these, 39 types (or 23 percent) have recommendations for relief surfaces to facilitate drainage of the walking surface. Minimum displacement volume is rated from V4 to V10 according to the amount of volume (V10 being the highest) provided for drainage. Imagine spreading butter over a sample of flooring (such as a tile) to the level of the tops of the relief features and then weighing the amount of butter per square foot and then using the density of the butter to determine the volume occupied by the butter.

R values of slip resistance testing for industrial floors

The slip resistance guidance must be used with discretion in individual cases. For instance, the recommendation for operating rooms is R9 — minimal slip resistance — but if amputations and other gory operations are conducted a much higher level would be appropriate.

The variable-angle ramp test is one that might not be commercially available in the USA, but some overseas flooring manufacturers provide R ratings for their products. We have been critical of the ramp test because it uses motor oil as a lubricant and is conducted using heavily treaded shoes not typical of those worn by many workers. 

Although there is a rough correlation between ramp test results and pendulum test results, it is not feasible to determine accurately ramp results using pendulum results.

The good news is that SparkleTuff™ transparent abrasive coating from Safety Direct America has a wet Pendulum Test Value (using a hard rubber slider) of 63, which would appear to put it in or close to ramp category R13 (see graph), suitable for any of the applications shown in HB 197:1999. SparkleTuff™ has Sustainable Slip Resistance as determined by the McDonalds Restaurants test, indicating that it retains good wet slip resistance after 500,000–1,000,000 people in shoes have walked across it. It has a high gloss despite having excellent wet slip resistance.

SparkleTuff™ adheres to virtually any flooring, indoor or outdoor (it’s UV resistant), and can be applied by anyone who can paint using a roller. It’s resistant to attack by cleaning chemicals. Material cost of SparkleTuff™ is $1–2 per square foot — cheaper than even one broken hip. Looks great — no slips!

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