Understanding Slip Testing and Why it is Necessary

Slip testing is a method that is used to ascertain the safety of floors in most commercial buildings and homes. Most accidents that occur in workplaces and public places are mainly due to tripping, slipping and falling. When correct measures are used by the owners and constructors of these laces, these accidents can be reduced considerably. Floor slip testing has played a great role in reducing the number of accidents that occur in these environments. The tests help in identifying and managing the wear and tear of a floor, any cleaning residues or contaminants. The floors have to be certified in order to ensure that they are safe for walking on.

Apart from doing the tests themselves, risk assessment, public liability, slip investigations and the provision of expert witness testimony in cases arising from slip testing is in our purview. We are tasked with providing a number of tests for floors for public access and employees. These tests are:

  • Wet Pendulum test
  • Dry Tortus Test
  • Wet barefoot inclining platform test
  • Oil wet inclining platform test, also called an R rating test


Why should slip testing be done?

There are a high number of accidents which cause grievous harm to people who slip and fall on floors. This happens in homes, offices, industrial environments and more. For the safety of people who walk on these floors, it is best that you conduct the tests before and after you install the floors.

The high cost of hospitalization, therapy, medication and law suits associated with slipping accidents should be a deterrent for any building owner, flooring material designer or contractor from avoiding doing these tests. You need to conduct these tests so you and the people walking on your floors are protected from such costs, not to mention the pain and suffering associated with such falls.


Testing in both lab and onsite environments

We do testing of floors and flooring materials in the laboratory and also onsite. Our services are available all over the country and lead to certification of the floors as safe for public use.

When it comes to testing in the lab, you should send us sample which we put through the tests. In the case of onsite testing, we send our trained and accredited experts with the required equipment to carry out the tests at the site. Our services are available all over the United Kingdom and also in Australia.

Onsite testing is done in several locations nationwide, including:

  • Homes
  • Swimming pools
  • Working areas
  • Industrial floors
  • Commercial buildings
  • Shopping centers and malls

Our services are effective and thorough – the results are available within a short time so the required interventions, if required, can be done quickly.

The standards for slip testing practices

There are several standards for different regions, which means that some are based on states, counties, councils, and more. We are conversant with the standards for every location within the United Kingdom and Australia. We are aware of requirements for products such as ceramic, construction codes, the law regulating Workplace Health and Safety, and a lot more.

Every floor is tested according to all these regulations. If you are not sue about the regulations that govern floor skid testing in your location, then you can get in touch with one of our consultants and they will be glad to give you information and also conduct the testing for you.

Knowing the slip tests that you need

There are a number of tests that we do to see how safe your floors and flooring materials are. These tests are specified by Construction legislature and other regulations that are applicable. The test methods are as follows:

The Wet Pendulum Test

This is a test that uses a device known as the Wet Pendulum Friction Tester. It was first developed for testing the skid resistance of road surfaces in order to avoid road accidents. After being effective in this instance, it was then adapted for use in testing the slip risk of floors and flooring materials.

The device is comprised of a metal boot, which has a spring-loaded rubber slider at the bottom which is allowed to hang downwards and slide across the surface being tested. The boot then slides back up, and the height of this upward swing is used to judge just how slippery a floor is. Slippery floors will make the boot swing higher.

When the test is being conducted, a floor is sprayed with water, and then the pendulum is swung across the surface for a minimum of five times. The last three readings are used to determine how slippery the floor is. The floor will have to be tested in at least five locations.

Although the test seems simple, all operators have to undergo special training as required by the accrediting body. This helps standardize the test results for different buildings. There are people who sometimes do not do the tests properly and this could lead to serious slip accidents. All the results should then be sent to the accrediting body for more scrutiny, to make sure that the tests are accurate and offer a safe environment for all people.

The Dry Tortus Test

This is another method of testing the slip risk on floors, but involves testing a dry floor, rather than a wet one like in the method above. The dry floor friction testing machine is also called a tortus, hence the name of the test. The name came about because the machine is allowed to move very slowly across the floors. The most recent Tortus machine can download test data to a memory stick and this can then be analyzed later.

When the test is conducted, the tortus moves across the floor and drags a rubber slider on the floor. It has a disk made of Slider 96 material and has a size of 9mm in diameter. The slider weighs 200 grams and a Coefficient of Friction is used to decide how slippery a floor is. This coefficient is a ratio of the horizontal force to the vertical weight of the slider.

For functions of standardization, the slider has to be conditioned using P400 grade paper. This will ensure that all tests are consistent when it comes to measuring how slippery they are.

The machine is allowed to travel for a distance of 800mm, at a speed of one meter a minute. The full distance is then divided into 100 mm sections, to see if some of the sections could be more slippery than others.

The Wet Barefoot Inclining Platform Test

This is a skid testing method use to assess the slipperiness of surfaces and floors where people are most likely to walk on bare feet. This includes surfaces like swimming pool surroundings, etc. The test is done after soaking the feet in a spa or bath for about 15 minutes, so the skin of the feet is soft and gives consistent results. The test requires two people, who are secured by a harness and asked to walk on a surface that is slowly inclined. The testers are then required to walk forwards and backwards on the specimen surface, walking in an upright manner and staring straight ahead. They are then asked to walk looking downwards.

The platform is inclined in stages, with results being taken at each stage. If the testers walk without slipping, then the angle is increased, and the test is repeated. This will be done continuously until the testers finally slip on the specimen surface. The test will be repeated once more to confirm that the testers actually slipped because of the angle of inclination. The average gradient or angle is then taken and the surface is classified accordingly.

One thing to note is that this angle should not be taken as the absolute angle at which ramps should be built. It is just an indicator that this is the highest that the ramp should be lifted when building actual floors using the specimen materials.

The Wet Barefoot Incline Test is done on materials that will line areas where people walk barefoot when the feet are wet. This includes bathroom floors, swimming pool ramps, shower rooms, hydrotherapy pools, stairs at swimming pools and the like.

One challenge of this test is that once the floors are installed, the test cannot be done again. It would require a wet pendulum test to be done. Ideally, the test should be done in the lab to get a correlation, before the floor is installed. Once installed, then the wet pendulum test can be used onsite.

The Oil Wet Ramp Resistance Test

This is a test that is used to give ramp ratings, which are also called the R rating. This is the term that is mainly used to define the slip resistance of any material especially that installed on ramps. The testers are asked to walk on a specimen material, similar to that of the Wet Barefoot Inclining Platform test, but in this case they are asked to wear shoes, which are brushed with a coating of oil.

The shoes used in this case are of the Uvex brand, have a rubber hardness of 72 IRD and a similar and specified thread pattern. This is done so there is a consistent way of measuring the mechanical interlock between the floor and different specimen material. If different threads are used, then the results will not be standardized.

Many people say that the results of such a test can be subjective, but the testers are properly trained on how to walk on the surfaces, and are supposed to walk using short steps, and at a specific rhythm. The test is best suited for floors where people will be walking on areas most likely to have oil contamination, wearing safety boots. The test is therefore best for floors in restaurant kitchens, and other industrial floors, where oil may be the main contaminant.

The R rating may also be used to measure skid resistance on wet floors that may be used by pedestrians. An R rating of 9 is said to be the lower threshold, while an R rating of 13 is said to be the most resistant to skidding.

Once again, this test cannot be repeated once the floor is installed. It has therefore been suggested that the pendulum test and the dry torus test should be the best for testing inclining floors. Floors that have profiles surfaces are the ones that should be tested with the incline tests.

These are the most common floor skid tests used in the United Kingdom and Australia. We have the requisite knowledge and personnel to conduct lab and onsite tests to ensure that your floors are safe for use. Do not leave yourself open to litigation, so contact us now and we shall be on-hand to test your floors and flooring materials.