Head Off Litigation with Third-Party Confidential Periodic Floor Slip Resistance Testing

Slips and falls can result from a wide range of causes. To avoid litigation your commercial property needs to be immune to claims that your negligence caused an injury.

The most effective way of doing this is to have Safety Direct America monitor your floors for slip resistance, and have your floor care personnel take action to eliminate any potential hazards that might be detected. Our written, professional-engineer-stamped confidential reports and recommendations in your file can have an almost magical effect in preventing claims of negligence against you for slip/fall injuries. We are certified by the City of Los Angeles for testing floor friction, and this is one of the very few government agencies in the United States that grants such certification. We have conducted walkway skid testing for the City of San Francisco and the City of Palo Alto, as well as other municipal governments and many commercial companies.

The Benefits. Our walkway traction auditing (slip resistance monitoring) programs include these potential benefits:

  •             Effective monitoring of your floor-care crew’s results
  •             Detection of changes occurring due to crew personnel turnover
  •             Cost-effective floor care decisions by you based on accurate, reliable data
  •             Easy-to-read reports documenting the status of your floors
  •             Floor-care vendor contractual accountability
  •             Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for slip resistance
  •             Compliance with OSHA slip resistance requirements
  •             Discharge of your duty to protect visitors to your property
  •             Improved employee efficiency and morale
  •             Fewer accidents
  •             Few (or no) frivolous or fraudulent claims
  •             Lower insurance premiums and deductibles payouts
  •             Less time and effort spent on litigation, including lawsuits

None of our monitoring clients has ever needed us to testify, but if it’s necessary we have experienced expert witnesses that can help prepare and present your case. The important thing is to establish a monitoring history and positive actions (e.g. minor changes in floor maintenance procedures) to prove your due diligence in preventing slips.

Test Program. If a floor area normally is dry in use it may be sufficient to have us only test it dry. For areas that get wet, we would monitor both dry and wet slip resistance to head off potential problems under either condition. For dry testing, static coefficient of friction (SCOF) is usually sufficient. For wet testing, dynamic coefficient of friction (DCOF) is needed. We can conduct both tests in a matter of seconds using the same instrument, the BOT-3000E that’s used for American National Standards Institute (ANSI) safety standards B101.1 (static COF) and A137.1 or B101.3 (dynamic COF).

The obsolete ASTM C1028 SCOF test was withdrawn by ASTM in 2014, so don’t rely on this test or on ASM 825A [not ASTM] test results. The latter is a static test similar to ASTM C1028 but is not, and never has been, approved by any recognized standard-setting organization. When the floor is wet these two test methods are not useful for predicting pedestrian slip resistance and will have little or no credibility in your defense. Various other floor skid test methods are discussed in our online video.

In your floor monitoring program, some high-traffic areas should be monitored at least quarterly. Other areas might be audited only annually.

Contributing factors to slipping accidents include the person, footwear, activity, floor surface, or environment (e.g. restaurant, car wash, etc.). Make sure your floor surface — particularly, your negligence — is not to blame by calling George Sotter at Safety Direct America, 800-677-9821, today to discuss starting a traction auditing program for you.

Improving the World’s Most Sophisticated Floor Slip-Resistance Safety Standards

In June’s post we discussed situation-specific slip resistance safety standards, which reflect the use or function of a floor and the friction (coefficient of friction) demands placed on it. Many U.S. floor friction standards are “one size fits all” — for instance, a wet dynamic coefficient of friction (DCOF) of 0.43 is considered adequate for any situation where the (level) floor gets wet. Traditionally, using the ASTM C 1028 method of assessing a floor’s slip risk, a 0.60 static coefficient of friction (SCOF) was considered adequate. (However, ASTM has officially withdrawn that test method, and so the 0.60 safety criterion is now a thing of the past. It no longer has any relevance whatsoever.)

Would you expect a posh hotel lobby to have the same demand for traction as a basketball court? The higher speeds and rapid acceleration and stopping demands of basketball call for a much higher, but still limited, amount of friction. This comparison is just one example of why different slip test safety standards are appropriate for different floor areas.

After 15 years of experience with the sophisticated safety standards mentioned above, Standards Australia on June 16, 2014 issued an improved version (preview: HB_198-2014). Wet slip resistance (or the dynamic coefficient of friction), as before, is tested using the British pendulum instrument. Either soft or hard rubber sliders can be used to simulate dress shoes (“Four S” hard rubber) or athletic shoes and bare feet (“TRL” soft rubber). Only one of the safety criteria (either hard or soft rubber) need be satisfied to comply with the slip test safety standard.

The new safety standards are summarized in Table 1 below. For example, Line 1 shows that steep outdoor ramps should have a wet Pendulum Test Value (PTV, which is also sometimes called BPN for Brithish Pendulum Number), tested with soft rubber, of at least 45. On the other hand, for normally dry areas in hotels, elevator lobbies and kindergartens, a wet PTV of 12 (hard rubber) is adequate. (Remember that dry areas can get contaminated with dust and with tracked-in grease from a parking area or kitchen. Wet slip resistance can help prevent slips in these cases.)

Table 1. Standards Australia slip resistance minimums

Aus Jun 2014 std

Swimming pool decks, preferably tested with soft rubber (to simulate bare feet), should have a minimum PTV of 40, but for hospital and aged care facility bathrooms a PTV of 35 is considered adequate.

The Australian standards also quote requirements for dry and wet stairs and landings, which were already specified in the National Construction Code there. Dry stairs need a wet PTV of 35 or higher, while even more stringent standards apply to wet stairs.

We at Safety Direct America conduct both laboratory British pendulum skid tests, and testing at your location on your existing floors. We also test using the ANSI A137.1 ceramic tile slip resistance test procedure and safety standards specified by the 2012 International Building Code (IBC), using the BOT-3000E digital tribometer. In many cases the IBC safety standard will be easier to meet than the Australian standard. The IBC standard is very permissive in some circumstances, making it easier to sell slippery flooring. The Australian standards are not as vendor-friendly and so are a much more reliable method of preventing accidents, injuries, and litigation.

Regarding the basketball court mentioned above, it’s not included in the Australian standards. An ASTM standard and a European standard specify a PTV between 80 and 110, with no part of the court deviating from the mean by more than 4 units. This applies to dry testing if the court is kept dry in use. For safety, most indoor basketball courts (being very smooth and glossy) must be kept dry by assiduously wiping up sweat deposited when players fall (or get knocked down), which they very frequently do.

Three Common Fallacies about Floor Slip Resistance

There are three widely-held misconceptions about pedestrian slip resistance. If you’re aware of them it can help you avoid a nasty, expensive, and possibly life-changing surprise.

Fallacy #1: “If a floor has a matte finish — that is, it’s not “shiny” —, it won’t be slippery when wet.” Truth is, many floors that have a matte finish are quite slippery when wet. Worse yet, because of its appearance many pedestrians will assume the floor is not slippery and will not take precautions — like making smaller strides and walking more slowly and cautiously — like they might on a glossy floor when it’s wet or their shoe bottoms are wet. This can increase the possibility of slip and fall accidents on these types of matte surfaces.

To avoid accidents on a floor that can get wet or otherwise lubricated (e.g. by deep fryer or broiler fat settled out of the air), have a sample of the flooring laboratory-tested for slip resistance by Safety Direct America before you make a purchase commitment. We can advise you as to what slip test safety standard is appropriate for a given situation: restroom, entrance lobby, pool deck, kitchen, bathtub, sidewalk, ramp, public shower, etc.

Fallacy #2: “If a flooring sample feels slip-resistant to my shoe when dry, it will also be slip-resistant when wet”. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Many smooth, glossy floors have excellent slip resistance when dry, but are treacherously slippery when wet. Again, laboratory floor slip testing by Safety Direct America can give you confidence that you’re buying the right flooring for the job. Sadly, many people have swimming pool decks installed that are slippery when wet! Children (and adults) running or even walking normally on such a deck are at risk of very serious injuries. At best, knowing that the pool deck is treacherous can spoil the fun that is the pool’s reason for being.

Fallacy #3: “If flooring has good wet slip resistance when it’s purchased, it will preserve that slip resistance forever.” It is quite possible to buy flooring that has good wet slip resistance, given honest test results for friction and an appropriate safety standard applied to those results. However, in a situation with high foot traffic that slip resistance might only last a few weeks or months! McDonalds Restaurants found that out long ago and after years of research came up with the Sustainable Slip Resistance test to check the tile after wear simulating traffic in a busy restaurant. They adopted it as a new flooring specification, and we adopted their test method for the benefit of our clients.

Sustainable Slip Resistance (SSR) testing by Safety Direct America can help you assess whether the flooring you’re about to install, possibly at great expense, is likely to keep its wet slip resistance for more than a short time. With the proper information on the slip resistance of your floors, or the flooring you are going to possibly install in a new project or renovation, you can avoid costly lawsuits, injuries, and the replacing of the flooring after the official opening of the building, which could mean your building is shut down for several days or weeks leading to possibly millions of dollars in losses for the businesses in your building.

Situation-Specific Floor Slip Resistance Testing Standards

In the USA, pedestrian slip resistance standards for flooring have traditionally been pass-fail. For instance, a coefficient of friction (COF) of 0.60 might be considered “safe” but 0.59 was “not safe.” This applied to any situation provided the floor was level.

Recently the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has published some standards that are a bit more detailed. Depending on the value of the dynamic coefficient of friction there is a “lower probability of slipping” potential, an “increased probability …” and a “higher probability.” For the “increased probability” regime, action is recommended, depending on the tile or other flooring’s intended use, to reduce risk.

Under either of these systems there’s no consideration of what the use of the floor is. For example, a 30th floor office building elevator lobby would have the same slip resistance safety standard as a swimming pool deck. An indoor shopping mall in sunny Las Vegas could have the same safety standard as an outdoor walkway in rainy New Orleans. This could put too much restriction on flooring choice in one situation, and/or an insufficient safety standard for another.

Australia and New Zealand, which are decades ahead of the United States in the serious study of slip and fall accident prevention, has established some slip testing standards based on the situation and based partly on some earlier standards established in Germany. As racing fans in Britain say, one should choose “the right horse for the course.” The Australia/New Zealand standards were established in 1999 (Standards Australia HB 197–1999 and ASNZS 4586:1999) and slightly expanded in 2013.

The standards are based on wet slip resistance testing using the pendulum tester, which yields a Pendulum Test Value, PTV. The testing can use either a hard rubber slider or a soft rubber slider (or both). Hard rubber simulates the bottoms of dress shoes, while soft rubber is more representative of bare feet or athletic shoes. The detailed properties of the rubbers are specified by the standard. (There is no correlation between Pendulum Test Values and other tribometer readings, or in general between other tribometer types; therefore the pendulum test must be used to implement these floor slip test standards.)

High PTV corresponds to high wet slip resistance, or a very low contribution of the floor surface to the risk of slipping when wet. Table 1 below shows suggested minimum wet PTV’s for various situations. These can be helpful to building owners who want to prevent slipping injuries and the human and financial costs they incur. “Accessible” in the table refers to areas intended to be accessible to the disabled.

Floor Slip Resistance Testing Standard

Table 1. Slip resistance test value suggestions for various situations

Table 1 shows that six “dry in use” of the 23 categories have no requirement for wet slip resistance. However, these areas should be kept free of grease, dust, tracked-in water, and spills. Generally, at least 10–15 feet of absorbent matting is needed to dry shoe bottoms before reaching the hard floor when it’s wet outside. Ropes along the edges of the mat can keep people from straying off the mat before their soles are dry. A dry mop, washed first to remove any oil, is needed to take up water dripping from raincoats. Umbrella bags on a stand at the entrance can help control drips.

The highest slip resistance in Table 1 is specified for outdoor ramps, and for swimming pool ramps and stairs that lead into the water.

Safety Direct America conducts pendulum testing both in the laboratory and in the field. We also offer the Sustainable Slip Resistance test that is specified by McDonalds Restaurants for assessing how well wet floor slip resistance will hold up after heavy wear from foot traffic.

To follow the 2012 International Building Code, ceramic tiles that are used indoors under wet conditions should also conform to ANSI Standard A137.1 wet dynamic coefficient of friction requirements. Testing uses the BOT-3000E digital tribometer. This instrument, lower in speed than the pendulum, is generally not considered suitable for testing outdoor flooring.

By using appropriate floor slip resistance testing methods and standards, building owners, managers, designers and architects can make intelligent choices in selecting flooring appropriate for each use in order to help minimize risk of slip and fall accidents.

Wet static coefficient of friction testing (SCOF) as described by the misleading ASTM C1028, is no longer considered a valid or reliable slip test method and it was officially withdrawn by ASTM in 2014. Americans caring for buildings and floors must now catch up with the slip resistance standards that have been in use for years in other countries (such as the pendulum test standards) and the new American dynamic COF tests like ANSI B101.3 and ANSI A137.1 in order to help end the epidemic of slip and fall injuries and lawsuits here in the USA. The tools are in place — all that remains is to use them.

Variables that Affect Slip Resistance of Polished Concrete

At the 6th Annual International Concrete Polishing & Staining Conference in Atlanta in September 2013, a panel discussion was organized and chaired by Ken Fisher of Nu-Safe. On the panel were the manufacturer of the BOT-3000E tribometer (floor slip resistance test meter); an Orlando attorney for large international property owners; and slip and fall prevention engineer Dr. George Sotter of Safety Direct America.

Dr. Sotter summarized some of the variables affecting slip resistance of polished concrete. When it’s clean and dry, he said, it’s normally not slippery.  When wet, it might be.

Topical sealers can be a problem. Sotter said, “Think about how an ice rink is made. A liquid, water, is spread on a surface, then solidified into ice. When water is put on top of the ice, that’s a very slippery situation. A topical sealer is also a liquid that solidifies, and with water or other liquid on top it can be treacherous.” Penetrating sealers can be OK if applied properly — the surface roughness is maintained. This means carefully removing the sealer from the surface before it dries. Coatings/sealers with aggregates (such as SolidStepCote from Safety Direct America) can also provide good slip resistance.

Micro-roughness of the surface can be important and is easily measured, but is not a fool-proof indicator of wet slip resistance; a friction test (or coefficient of friction test) is still needed. Too-rough textures may be harder to clean. Concrete finishes that are honed with a finer grit provide lower wet slip resistance, but safe surfaces can be obtained with a surface roughness fine enough not to detract from the appearance. Color pigments don’t necessarily affect wet slip resistance.

Autoscrubbers (scrubbing machines that use vacuum to pick up the dirty water) are usually best for cleaning — a mop is suitable only for smooth floors without greasy/oily deposits. (A very soft autoscrubber brush, like a carpet brush, cleans effectively with minimal effect on slip resistance. Pads — even nonabrasive ones — tend to pick up dirt and may scar the surface.) A monthly high-pressure cleaning can be helpful. Sweeping may spread contaminants and be ineffective on rougher floors. For applications such as shopping malls, cleaning should be done nightly, but in some other circumstances a weekly cleaning is sufficient.

Even a few layers of floor polish can significantly reduce the wet slip resistance.

The most important step in creating a polished concrete floor that’s slip-resistant is to test from the start of the polishing process. The test must include sealer and polish if they are to be used. Better to find out on the first 10 square feet that there’s a potential problem rather than after the whole job is done! Continue testing as the polishing process proceeds; variable slip resistance is considered a hazard. Since concrete batches can vary, the polishing is an in-situ process, and humans are involved, variation can easily happen.

Safety Direct America (SDA) can help by conducting slip resistance tests on-site. The best wet tests for indoor surfaces use the BOT-3000E digital tribometer, which is also available for purchase (at discounted prices) from Safety Direct America. For a level indoor floor, a dynamic coefficient of friction of 0.43 or higher using the ANSI B101.3 test procedure is a reliable indicator. Values as low as 0.30 may be acceptable with periodic monitoring, but consider traction-enhancing products and practices depending on use of the area. Ramps may require increased roughness. Static friction tests are not reliable indicators of safety and can be very deceptive. For outdoor surfaces, where pedestrians may sometimes run (especially when it starts to rain), the pendulum test is preferred because its slider (test foot) moves at higher speed than the slider of the BOT-3000E.

A BOT-3000E slip test described in ANSI A137.1 is by reference part of the 2012 International Building Code, applying to ceramic tile. This test, championed by the ceramic tile industry, often gives a higher DCOF than ANSI B101.3 because less wetting agent is used in the water for the test. However, “Tiles with a wet DCOF of 0.42 are not necessarily suitable for all projects. The specifier shall determine tiles for specific project conditions.” Dry DCOF measurements made using the BOT-3000E may also be of interest. Safety Direct America can help with recommendations of slip resistance for specific situations: food courts, restrooms, sports stadiums, outdoor surfaces, etc.

Wet slip resistance may not be important in areas that can consistently be kept dry. Injury claims might still be filed, and it’s helpful to have dry test results showing that the floor is not a safety problem when clean and dry. However, it’s crucial to remember that surfaces that have excellent dry slip resistance are often very slippery when wet. Dry slip resistance is not an indicator of wet slip resistance.

For external surfaces an 80–100 grit finish with a penetrating sealer should satisfy slip resistance requirements.

Whatever the surface, having documented test results for slip resistance at the end of an installation is very important for the protection of all involved. Regular monitoring is also recommended by American National Standards Institute ANSI B101.3. Quarterly monitoring by a third party is popular because it roughly ties in with the turnover rate of floor maintenance personnel and/or contracts in many buildings. However, semi-annual or even annual monitoring is better than no monitoring at all. Monitoring reports can be highly cost-effective — they have been shown many times to be very discouraging to plaintiff attorneys.

Safety Direct America can provide initial floor slip resistance testing, monitoring and test reports, signed and sealed by a registered Professional Engineer. Contact George Sotter, P.E. of SDA at 800-988-6721 for more information on floor slip resistance testing for your property, or for slip tests in our lab for the flooring you plan to use in a new project.

BOT-3000 Data Features Enhance Courtroom Credibility

Periodic testing of your company’s floors’ slip resistance can detect problems so they can be solved before they cause an accident, and can help verify that there are no remaining problems. Routine monitoring slip tests are typically conducted quarterly, semiannually, or annually. However, various unrelated pedestrian factors such as prescription and non-prescription drug use, intoxication, hazardous shoes, irresponsible pedestrian behavior or downright dishonesty can still lead to claims and possibly litigation. This is where some of the unique features of the BOT-3000E digital floor tribometer (slip resistance tester) shine. If the property owner can prove he or she was not negligent, liability for the alleged accident is not his.

The BOT-3000E can conduct important slip resistance test protocols such as ANSI standards A137.1 and B101.3 (both for dynamic friction), and B101.1 (static friction). However, expert witnesses for the other side may present “evidence” that the floor was slippery even though your tests show it was not — and you know it was not. The BOT-3000E’s features can make your data nearly bulletproof.

The BOT’s screen display (see photo, shown on a tile floor) instantly shows the results of the test, and strip charts of the numerical results can be printed immediately. However, the BOT-3000 data port provides further information in pdf format that can be transferred to a PC or Mac computer in seconds using an ordinary USB flash drive.3000E + printout

Data display and instant printout for ANSI A137.1 DCOF test

 The BOT-3000E’s onboard computer is able to store complete data for each slip test run, including forward-facing photographs. (The on-board camera can be turned off if not needed.)

The sample ANSI A137.1 dynamic coefficient of friction (DCOF) report ANSI A137.1 1259 includes the following information in addition to the DCOF of 0.48:

  • Test location number
  • Ambient-light photos of the location of the test by the BOT’s onboard camera
  • Graphs of instantaneous DCOF for each of the four runs in the test protocol
  • Most recent calibration and verification dates of the instrument
  • Ambient temperature and relative humidity
  • Path length of the DCOF measurement
  • Type and manufacturer’s ID of the slider (test foot) used for the test

The BOT uses “smart sliders” that have circuitry in the slider holder that provides the slider material, serial number, and date of manufacture.

All three types of ANSI test reports on the BOT-3000 include the relevant test information. The number of photos varies from one to six, depending on how many path directions are involved in the particular test protocol. The BOT’s screen display prompts the user with the simple steps involved in conducting each slip resistance test.

Regarding the graphs, initial transient values for dynamic friction are not included in the run averages and thus do not affect the result.

Your BOT-3000 slip test data, collected by you or by a third party designated by you such as Safety Direct America, can help prove that you have exercised due diligence, best possible practice, and have done everything reasonable and practicable to prevent slips and falls — in other words, that the alleged slip and/or fall accident was not due to negligence on your part.

Safety Direct America conducts BOT-3000E field and laboratory slip resistance tests using the methods described above and others as well. Lab tests typically cost $230 per sample. Field test charges depend on location. We have tested throughout the USA as well as from Guam to Bermuda and in Canada.

We can also provide you with your own new BOT-3000E slip resistance tester at a $300 discount. Please phone George Sotter at 800-988-6721 for information.

Misleading ASTM C 1028 Friction Test Continues to Wreak Havoc in the USA

Misguided investments of hundreds of millions of dollars in slippery flooring … pain, suffering, and financial losses to accident victims and their families … lawsuits by the thousands … and lack of consumer confidence in ceramic tile and other hard flooring: these are some of the consequences of a poorly-conceived floor “slip-resistance” test — ASTM C 1028, Static Coefficient of Friction, published and sold by the American Society for Testing and Materials. Floor safety experts in most developed countries have considered this test method to be a joke for many years.

Conceived decades ago as a simple way of testing static friction and giving passing grades to many visually attractive but hazardous slippery floors, C 1028 survives despite the availability of far better test methods. No surprise, because lots of people profit from slippery floors: physicians and hospitals, physical therapists, lawyers, and expert witnesses, to name a few. Slip-and-fall accident victims and the disabled are often mystified as to how so many slippery floors (especially wet ones) came to exist and to dramatically change their lives in an instant.

The C 1028 test measures the amount of force needed to overcome friction of a 50-pound stationary object, barely coaxing that object briefly into motion. The problem is, most people aren’t standing still when they slip and fall — they’re moving. This means that what’s relevant is dynamic, not static, friction. Test methods such as ANSI A137.1 (using the BOT-3000E tribometer, and now part of the International Building Code used in most U.S. jurisdictions and a number of other countries), and the pendulum and Tortus instruments endorsed by Ceramic Tile Institute of America (CTIOA), measure dynamic friction and correlate with pedestrian safety. The pendulum is a national standard for pedestrian friction in at least 49 nations and has been endorsed by CTIOA since 2001.

The Access Board of the U.S. Department of Justice issued a document in 1992 that was taken by many as an endorsement of ASTM C 1028. A static coefficient of friction of 0.60 or higher seemed to appear safe for level floors, and 0.80 or higher for pedestrian ramps.

The Access Board long ago denied any support for, or confidence in, static friction. But like a vampire that keeps coming back, C1028 is still used by many architects, designers and building owners as their only criterion to try to prevent them from successfully being sued because of a slippery floor. It doesn’t necessarily work, because all competent U.S. slip-and-fall forensic experts acknowledge that static friction is not adequate to prevent accidents. For more information on ASTM C 1028, please see www.C1028.info.

Safety Direct America conducts laboratory and field tests using ANSI A137.1, two other relevant ANSI tests, the pendulum, and the Tortus. For those who insist on ASTM C 1028 we conduct that test too — but we do not recommend using it as your sole criterion for slip-and-fall safety.

If you want to prevent slips on your property, contact George Sotter at Safety Direct America, 1-800-988-6721, for our recommendations. We’re consultants to two major cruise ship companies as well as property owners, insurance companies, and attorneys. We wrote the book on slip prevention — see STOP Slip and Fall Accidents! at amazon.com. Have a safe day!

Anti-Slip Transparent Coating Lets Hotels Eliminate Tub/Shower Mats

Most hotels and motels with slippery bathtub and shower floors have been using suction cup mats to give bathers safer footing, albeit only on a small part of the slippery surface. These mats need to be laundered daily or they will harbor bacteria, foot fungus and mold. Because of the laundering the mats deteriorate quickly and need costly replacement. Worse, the guest sometimes doesn’t bother to use the mat and is injured in a fall, blaming the owner for the injuries. Even when the mat is in place, vigorous activities in the shower (if you know what we’re saying) can lead to stepping off the mat, leading to a one- or two-person fall. If a glass shower door gets broken, injuries can be life-threatening.

Safety Direct America’s anti-slip coating SolidStepCote 03 is helping major hotel chains to eliminate these problems while increasing safety. The coating covers the entire walking surface of the tub or shower. It can be applied when the room is vacant and is ready for use in less than 24 hours. It is durable and easy to clean. (Abrasives must not be used in cleaning.)

If 20 or more tubs are coated, the material cost is $10 or less per tub. After cleaning and drying the surface, about 10 minutes of labor is required to apply two coatings. The second coating can be applied 30 minutes after the first, but must have longer to dry before being exposed to standing water.

If the coating eventually starts to show signs of wear it can be touched up without removing the unworn portion. If you wish, additional litigation protection can be ensured by having Safety Direct America test representative tubs periodically and submit a written report, signed and sealed by a state-registered Professional Engineer, for your file to document your due diligence.

Applying SolidStepCoat 03 helps hotels and motels reduce operating costs while improving tub/shower safety, appearance, and hygiene and reducing liability exposure. See the photos below, which are from a bathtub/shower anti-slip coating video on the Safety Direct America web site that demonstrates the application process.

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Figure 1. Coating, which dries clear, is applied to clean, dry tub

Screen shot 2013-05-19 at 5.16.27 PM

Figure 2. Optional friction testing documents results for hotel’s file

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Figure 3. Hotel owner jumps for joy in SSC03 coated tub. (Kids, don’t try this at home.)

BREAKING NEWS: Dynamic Slip Testing Enters International Building Code!

Slip accident prevention in the USA and Canada finally emerged from the Stone Age when dynamic coefficient of friction testing with a specific test method and safety standard became a verified part of the current International Building Code (IBC) in February 2013. The IBC is used in more than a dozen countries, such as the USA, Canada, Saudi Arabia, and Chile. The new dynamic friction test is conducted using the BOT-3000 digital tribometer and is sometimes called the AcuTestSM.

This is the first time any U.S. national building code or regulation has had specific instructions regarding wet or dry slip resistance. In the past, property owners spent many billions on floors that were unsuitable for their intended use because they were slippery when wet (lobbies, commercial kitchens, pool decks, showers, etc). Use of static coefficient of friction often gave misleading results, causing buyers to think that the flooring they were buying was safe when it in fact was very hazardous. Years ago, the Access Board of the U.S. Department of Justice, which administers the Americans with Disabilities Act, denied any support or responsibility for using static friction tests.

The current (2012; the Code is published every three years) IBC states on p. 435, “2103.6 Ceramic Tile. Ceramic tile shall be as defined in, and shall conform to the requirements of, ANSI A137.1.” Up until recently, this meant using static coefficient of friction (SCOF). The minimum SCOF, ANSI said, “shall be as agreed upon by manufacturer and purchaser.” In other words, the flooring retailer wasn’t involved, and a mistake leading to an accident was the customer’s fault. Now that has changed. According to Tile Council of North America, “any party involved in the chain of sales will be responsible for knowing what the [ANSI A137.1 DCOF] requirement is and what it means.”

The new version of ANSI A137.1 (American National Standard Specifications for Ceramic Tile), published in 2012 with the DCOF test method re-verified in February 2013, specifies (Table 6 on p. 10) a minimum DCOF of 0.42 “for level interior spaces expected to be walked upon when wet.” For a ramp an unspecified higher value is required. We believe this should include consideration of the angle of the ramp and whether the pedestrian is controlling a separate load (wheelchair, shopping cart, gurney, heavy suitcase, etc.). See “Safe Friction Values for Inclined Surfaces (Ramps)” farther down in this blog.

The ANSI tile standard correctly points out “the COF of installed tiles can change over time.” This speaks to the value of periodic monitoring of COF so that action can be taken to solve any problems before an injury occurs. This helps establish that the property owner has used due diligence, best possible practice, and has done everything reasonable and practicable to prevent slipping accidents.

The testing procedure is specified by ANSI in Section 9.6 and names the BOT 3000 automatic testing device. The flooring is wetted with water containing a trace of the wetting agent SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) to reduce surface tension so that the water doesn’t bead up on the surface. The SBR hard rubber test foot is roughly an inch wide, and curved cylindrically so that only a line of the rubber touches the flooring surface.

Though ANSI A137.1 is specific to ceramic tile, it seems likely that the test method will also be applied to other flooring such as marble, granite, terrazzo, vinyl, etc.

For exterior surfaces, where people are more likely to be running (especially if it’s raining!) we recommend a minimum wet Pendulum Test Value of 36 using the test method specified since 2001 by Ceramic Tile Institute of America. The pendulum is a higher-speed device than the BOT-3000. It is a national standard for pedestrian slip resistance in 49 nations, and it’s been in continuous use for floor friction testing since 1971. It is also specified for the Sustainable Slip Resistance test procedure developed by McDonalds Restaurants and adopted by major cruise ship companies and major property owners to ensure that their new floors will have durable wet slip resistance.

The new IBC specification was developed by a committee representing 58 organizations and was spearheaded by Tile Council of North America (TCNA). Ceramic Tile Institute of America and TCNA deserve credit for resolving what was an unfortunate situation in which a bad test method (static friction) caused life-changing accidents, inappropriate flooring investments, and countless lawsuits. It also led to ceramic tile having a reputation, with many people, of being unsafe. (Time will tell whether the new safety criterion of 0.42 is high enough.) In fact the right ceramic tile, produced in a quality-controlled factory and designed to give good, sustainable wet slip resistance, can be the safest and most versatile type of attractive flooring available.

A new model of the BOT-3000, the BOT-3000E, has begun the verification process to be ruled acceptable for ANSI A137.1 testing. Another test method using the BOT-3000, namely ANSI B101.1 (static friction) now appears to be mostly obsolete. The old static friction method ASTM C 1028 is expected to die a natural death when it comes up for periodic renewal by ASTM.

Another dynamic test method using the BOT-3000, ANSI B101.3, has some small but important details that are different from the ANSI A137.1 test method. The B101.3 method usually results in lower DCOF data, yet has the same basic safety criterion: 0.42 for a level floor. This method might be a better choice for property owners looking for safe new flooring, but it’s unlikely to be used by tile vendors because it’s less favorable to products that are marginal in terms of wet slip resistance.

Safety Direct America offers laboratory and field slip resistance testing using the new ANSI A137.1 AcuTestSM method, as well as the other methods mentioned above. A laboratory  AcuTestSM costs only $179.00, and turnaround is normally less than three business days. Field tests are conducted on a time and expenses basis (nationwide, but from a southern California base). We also offer periodic monitoring (e.g. quarterly or annually) for commercial/industrial premises, and slip-fall expert witness service.

Top 5 Ways of Keeping your Slippery Floor Dry

Many of the most attractive floors are smooth and glossy, and over 99 percent of those are slippery when wet although they often have excellent slip resistance when dry. When they’re near an outside door special care is needed to keep them dry to prevent slip accidents. Here’s how.

1.            Have an overhang outside so that shoe bottoms don’t get wet when stepping out of a car in front of the door, or so that they can dry off while walking under cover from the parking structure to the door.

2.            Keep clean mats in place to clean and dry shoe bottoms before they hit your slippery floor. If snow, ice and/or mud are issues, an abrasive mat should be outside to clean these substances off before entering the building. Inside, there need to be at least 12 feet of absorbent matting to dry the shoes. At home, you probably stop to clean off your shoes at the door, but in a commercial building people just walk straight in. If thousands are walking into an office building (for instance) in the morning, you need enough length matting to dry the shoes after lots of water has already been tracked in.

Don’t expect everyone to walk in laser-straight in on your straight and narrow mat. The mat needs to be wide enough for those who veer off in another direction to go to their elevator or other destination inside. If that’s not feasible, use velvet ropes on both sides to keep folks on the mat.

3.            Now that the shoes are dry, there’s still the matter of dripping wet umbrellas. Have an umbrella bag stand with plastic bags in place at the entrance so people can stow their umbrellas while they continue on their way. These stands are available online from many vendors.

4.            After the umbrellas have been stowed, there are the dripping raincoats, hats, briefcases, strollers, suitcases, etc. to consider. Have someone with a dry, oil-free dust mop periodically clean up any water that gets past the mats. Most dust mops when they’re new contain oil to help capture the dust! This oil must be laundered off before the dust mop is used on a smooth, glossy floor — a lubricant is not what you want on that floor. If you have a battery-driven wet vac, that’s even better than a dust mop and can dry large areas. Make sure its squeegee is in good condition.

5.            Ensure regular surveillance to clean up promptly any spills. The frequency of inspections depends on what’s in and around the area, e.g. a bar, coffee bar, lemonade urn, food court, etc.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because no one slips on your beautiful, expensive flooring when it’s dry, that that means it’s not slippery when wet. The truth is often quite the opposite.

When planning a new building or renovation, specify flooring with a slip resistance test, preferably the Sustainable Slip Resistance test (as defined by McDonalds Restaurants for customer areas in new stores), so you don’t need to worry nearly as much about slips when there’s liquid around. If your existing floor is still too risky after you’ve implemented the five steps above, have Safety Direct America treat it with the Non-Slip 21 process to improve the wet slip resistance.

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