The most dominant type of accidents that occur in public places and work environments are falls due to slippery floors
Every fall has a high risk of leading to a debilitating injury, and can sometimes be fatal. All this will depend n how the person fell, and which part of the body hit the floor hardest. When it is the head, then a fatality is probable. These are the slip accidents that are termed as “High Potential”. However, not all accidents led to serious injuries, but the fact that they can potentially be dangerous has led industry professionals to avoid all forms of slipping accidents. This is why slip testing is a priority.
Poor friction between the shoe and the floors is the cause of slip accidents. There was a lot of research done within the last half of the century on what slipping is all about, and how it can be measured. The 90’s brought about rapid progress. There has been some ridiculous ideas permeating the scientific community about the importance of slip testing, but that is to be expected within scientists and engineers. There are scientists who do not know that s hard smooth surface can be more slippery than ice when it gets wet.
The design of slip testing
Slip resistance is affected by, the materials of the floor and the finishing applied, the material and texture of the shoes worn by pedestrians, the way that the pedestrian walks and if there are any contaminants n the floor. The gait of the pedestrian is fully out of the domain of the slip testing expert and the type of shoes worn is also determined by the pedestrian. However, the construction of the floor, its maintenance and the contaminants present are within the control of the expert. These are the ones that are normally considered when slip resistance testing methods are being designed.
When considering the floor design, the environmental conditions that are foreseen are the first considerations. The features of any surface that will prevent poor traction have to be specified, a threshold designed, constructed and maintained. This will look at floors, ramps, ladders, platforms and stairs. All surfaces should be considered, whether they are fixed or mobile – such as escalators.
The maintenance of the floors is the next consideration. Chemical processes and environmental conditions can come together and cause a floor to be slippery. The chemicals that are used in the maintenance and regular cleaning of the floors should be specified. It is crucial that the floors be inspected regularly and workers made to be accountable so the floors are kept in safe walking condition.
How do slips occur?
Most slips come from wet surfaces or surfaces with lubricants such as oil or detergents. Water, oil and other chemicals are the main causes of slip accidents. The roughness of the floor is also a factor to be considered, since the edges should be able to rise above the lubricating material and provide traction for the shoes.
If an accident or a slip test shows that a floor is too slippery, then there is the need to replace the surface of the floor to make it much rougher and therefore provide proper safety for all pedestrians. There are chemical methods of making a floor rougher. The Y-slip treatment is one of them, and another is to use aggressive cleaning treatments which remove any material that may have built up over time affecting the roughness of the floor. There are mechanical methods that can also be used to increase the roughness of a floor, either by abrasion or adding texturizing materials.
If it is not possible to treat the floor, then it would have to be replaced with a different material, which has a high roughness factor. This can be done by applying textured surface coatings or by simply laying a new floor over the old one.
Finishes or treatments should be tested under their use conditions since the real world phenomena in a workplace or a mall are very different from those of a lab. Once this has been done, then the materials can be specified for use for any floor. The performance of a flooring system should also include the methods of cleaning and the materials used. Sometimes the cleaning personnel who normally carry out these processes are included in the test.
Proper slip resistance under wet or lubricated conditions should use materials whose surfaces are rough enough so that the peaks are able to rise above the lubricating film and interact with the shoe. It should be noted that the tread pattern, texture and material of the shoe will also affect the slip resistance performance of the floor. Where footwear can be controlled, such as a factory environment, then the management should specify the type of shoes to be worn at all times.
How to improve existing floors
There is a lot that can be done in the design and construction of a new floor so that slip accidents are prevented. However, there are times when the floor is found to be slippery and continues to be a hazard to pedestrians. Walking surfaces that were once safe could also become slippery due to constant wear. What can be done to improve these conditions?
Maintenance of the floor
The cleaning and maintenance of the floor should be considered first since these are the once that lead to wear. If a floor has been waxed or finished to be very smooth, then it will become more slippery if it is not maintained properly. The only solution in this case would be to strip the floor and apply a new rough surface.
When it comes to maintenance, the chemicals used to treat the floor should be adequately considered – this includes cleaning and finishing chemicals. Chemicals suppliers should be able to give proper advice on the chemicals to be used on different floor surfaces. The process should then be tested in real conditions to ensure that it is effective and that it can be applied properly by the people who work there maintaining and cleaning the floors. After the materials have been tested and approved, clear instruction should be given.
The procedure should then be presented to the management and proper training methods devised. The training will not be enough to ensure that proper procedures are followed, so the maintenance and cleaning crew should be properly monitored and supervised to ensure that they are complying with the requisite procedure.
The training crew should be responsible and accountable, so the management should set certain standards to be adhered to. There must be a practical means of measuring slip resistance under the real use conditions in order to help in quality control.
Other types of maintenance
It is important to prevent leaks and spills that can increase the slipperiness of a floor. This means fixing leaking pipes and drains, faulty equipments and clogged waterways immediately. This should be done to avoid negligent accidents.
Warning and signs
These should be places where slippery spills are expected. It may have been found that particular areas are susceptible to spills, and there may not be any personal in the area to clean up the spill. Therefore warning signs should be placed prominently telling pedestrians that the floor could be slippery when wet and they should walk carefully.
Another way would be to provide mats and other safe surfaces in these areas. Therefore, when a spill occurs, the mats protect the pedestrians from slipping.
Efficiency of mats
Mats are used for cleaning and drying the shoes of pedestrians. They are usually placed at the entrances of most buildings and other locations where contaminants may make the floor slippery. The efficiency of the mats is crucial, since if they do not clean the shoes properly, there is a danger of a slip accident occurring.
The mats must be securely fixed to the floor and they should also lie flat on the floor in order to improve their efficiency. If the mat has a curling edge or corner, it presents a hazard where someone ay trip over the curl. The mats should also have a high absorbency and drainage factor. This is especially important when high moisture is expected, such as a rainy day. The size of the mats will affect the absorbency and drainage. It is important to consult an expert before laying down any mats.
Other floor treatments
There are many other ways in which you can reconstruct smooth floors which have been found to be too slippery after wear over time.
Ceramic tiles can have the roughness factor improved with several different types of surface treatment chemicals which increase the slip resistance of the surface. Before anything is done on ceramic tiles, it is important to speak to an expert. Contact us and we shall be on-hand to advice you.
When you look at restaurants, organic liquids are very common and this can lead to polymerization if the floors are not properly cleaned. This layer can cause the floor to become slippery since it coats the rough surface of the floor. Aggressive cleaning treatments should be done on such floors. Contact us and we can help rehabilitate your restaurant kitchen floor.
There are other resilient floors that become quite slippery when they are lubricated. Chemical applications that have abrasive granules are used in order to add slip resistance to such floors.
Smooth and hard metallic and concrete floors are treated with trowel and painted finishes which add the slip resistance of the floors. The hardness and roughness of these varies. Durability and chemical resistance of such treatments should be considered. The best is one that adhere properly to the floor below and should maintain its slip resistance even after repeated cleaning and maintenance.
Definition of slip resistance testing as opposed to other tests
- The force that is required to start motion between an object and the surface it is resting on is called the Static Coefficient of Friction.
- The force required to keep the object sliding one motion has begun is called the Dynamic Coefficient of Friction
In cases where a pedestrian slips, the contamination on the surface is the first to be investigated since dry, clean surfaces are not slippery. The investigation looks at whether the surface was rough enough to protrude through the contaminant layer and make contact with the shoe. This is what is called investigating the slip resistance of a floor, as opposed to the Coefficient of Friction.
Adhesion is another issue that complicates the investigation of slip resistance. Many investigators call it Stiction when the floor is wet, and not Adhesion. Adhesion or stiction is a function of the slider pads that are used during slip testing. Any delay between the contact of the pad and the surface, and when the horizontal force is applied makes adhesion to occur.
Surfaces that have been wet with water may cause a delay of 0.2 of a second and can produce stiction that will cause the results to be higher than they should be. This can lead to a floor being classified as safe when it is not.
Therefore, all drag sled meters and articulated strut instruments will have stiction since they do not apply horizontal and normal forces at the same time that initial surface contact occurs. This means that these instruments will always give false readings when they are used under wet conditions. This is another crucial matter within the industry.
If you do have any questions about slip resistance, or need your floors to be tested,link.