A new slip resistance test is a long-overdue advance for U.S. slip-fall prevention. In 2012 the American National Standards Institute published American National Standard B101.3, “Test Method for Measuring Wet DCOF of Common Hard-Surface Floor Materials (Including Action and Limit Thresholds for the Suitable Assessment of the Measured Values).” This finally gives the U.S. an American-made useable dynamic friction test and safety standards for wet slip resistance of flooring. Safety standards are included by ANSI for level floors and for inclines (ramps). The test is conducted using the BOT-3000 digital tribometer. Test services as well as the BOT-3000 device (see photo) are available from Safety Direct America.
In pedestrian slip resistance, the USA had fallen decades behind countries such as Australia, Germany, New Zealand and the United Kingdom in setting meaningful safety standards. The U.S. Federal government had been a negative influence. The Access Board of the U.S. Department of Justice, charged with implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act, at first published a misleading recommendation by a research contractor that used (C1028-07) static coefficient of friction (a minimum of 0.60 for a level floor, 0.80 for a ramp) to assess safety. This resulted in many dangerously slippery floors being given a “safe” rating. Building owners have spent billions installing these flooring types since 1992, and slip-fall accidents, injuries, and litigation predictably followed. The Access Board has since disavowed any responsibility for this bogus safety standard. Slip accidents predominantly happen when the pedestrian is moving (dynamic) rather than stationary (static). A dynamic test is required.
The U.S. OSHA was even worse: they specified a minimum coefficient of friction (COF) of 0.50 for safety without saying what test method should be used to assess COF. (Different friction test methods can give vastly different answers on the same flooring.) Flooring vendors naturally picked the test method that would give the highest test results, maximizing their sales of slippery flooring.
Two other test methods are still useful because of capabilities the BOT-3000 doesn’t have. The pendulum can test virtually any flooring (indoor or outdoor). The Tortus is a digital tribometer that can test almost any flooring wet or dry using hard and soft rubber slider materials. Soft sliders are representative of soft-soled shoes (e.g. many casual or athletic shoes), which can be treacherous on a wet floor when their heel treads have worn down (like bald tires on a wet road) or were never present to begin with. Safety Direct America offers laboratory and field slip resistance testing and periodic monitoring services for wet and/or dry conditions using BOT-3000, pendulum, and/or Tortus.
Dry tests are useful because property owners are often blamed for falls on clean, dry floors when the falls are not due to the flooring but to other factors such as footwear, substance abuse, etc.