Sustainable Slip Resistance Testing
Common sense and, in some jurisdictions, regulations require that floors should be safe at the end of an economically reasonable working life — not just on the day they are installed. The Sustainable Slip Resistance test helps assess whether proposed new flooring will satisfy this requirement. The benefits of sustainable slip resistance testing include:
- Protect your investment in installation of new slip-resistant flooring
- Prevent injuries and suffering caused by slips and falls
- Avoid costly and time-consuming litigation
- Increase customer confidence and employee productivity
- Comply long-term with the Americans with Disabilities Act and state and local building codes, which require slip-resistant floor surfaces (not just when the flooring is new)
The wet slip resistance of many flooring materials can decrease significantly due to maintenance practices, construction cleanup, wear, and other factors. Too frequently, construction or renovation cleanup alone (e.g. using a green pad on a floor machine) results in loss of wet slip resistance even before the building opens! Areas such as pool decks, restaurant kitchens, outdoor walkways, ramps and stairs, etc. require long-lasting slip resistance in the face of these possibilities.
Sotter Engineering Corporation can now test flooring samples for Sustainable Slip Resistance. This test, developed by the McDonald’s Restaurant chain and now specified by many other property owners (e.g. Westfield, Aldi, Toyota) assesses the effects of mild abrasion on wet slip resistance. This test identifies flooring that has a high propensity to lose its wet slip resistance.
The sample is first tested with the pendulum method, endorsed by Ceramic Tile Institute of America (ctioa.org, Floor Safety Report #1). It is then abraded, wet, with a 3M green pad loaded with one kilogram (35 ounces U.S.) of weight and a back-and-forth cycling rate of approximately one cycle per second.
A second wet test with the pendulum then assesses any loss in slip resistance due to the abrasion. A typical specification for Sustainable Slip Resistance is that after 500 cycles of abrasion the minimum wet Pendulum Test Value (PTV or BPN, British Pendulum Number) should be 35 for a level floor and 45 for a ramp of slope up to 1:8.
For restaurants or industrial environments, at additional charge the pendulum tests can be conducted using cooking oil or other contaminants. For most flooring, the usual wetting agent is water.
More detail on SSR can be found on Wikipedia. You can download (free) a five-page paper on Sustainable Slip Resistance published by the U.S. government’s NIOSH 2010 International Conference. For recent U.S. trade journal articles on SSR click on these links:
Building Services Management, September 2011
Facility Safety Management, July 2011
Hotel Motel Engineer Association Magazine, Winter 2011
Occupational Health & Safety, October 2010