Slip Resistance: Test methods and surface finishes.
By Rebecca Norman Marketing Manager BluePrint Ceramics.
BluePrint Ceramics prides itself in being a market leader when it comes to offering an extensive range of innovative tile collections to our clients. We aim to meet the client’s exact requirements for each project they are working on, and meet the tile specifications as required.
Our tile collections are vast. The range of extensive options includes a variety of materials, including ceramic and porcelain tiles, metal and glass mosaics, travertine, and natural stone.
When specifying tiles, we understand that certain features of the tile are of immense importance: in particular, the slip resistance. The BluePrint team have a wealth of experience when it comes to knowledge regarding slip resistance. We are going to go into a little more depth about this subject in this editorial.
Why is slip resistance so important when considering what floor tiles to use?
Every year in the UK approximately 10,000 people at work will suffer an injury due to a trip, slip, or fall. Most of these trips and falls will result in some sort of bone fracture or break and these sorts of injuries account for a third of all major injuries in the workplace.
These accidents cost the industry over £500 million per year. As you can imagine a slip, trip, or fall at work can be extremely costly. It could cost an employer sick pay, cover, overtime, insurance and, possibly, compensation. If one of these cases went to court the costs could spiral even further.
Considering this information regarding injuries we can start to understand that the safety of a tiled floor is one of the most important safety considerations when planning a project. It is important to install tiles that have suitable slip resistant features that will greatly reduce the chance of a trip, slip or fall.
The slip resistance of a tile can alter depending on its environment. The factors that affect this are.
The tile finish. What is the texture of the tile?
The conditions of the environment it is installed in. Is it wet or dry?
The wear characteristics of the tile
The ongoing cleaning and maintenance of the tile.
What test methods can we use to determine slip resistance?
Slip resistance testing is a method of measuring the resistance to slip accidents on flooring surfaces. The two main methods of testing are the Ramp Test and The Pendulum Test. There are additional tests that can be performed. However, the two mentioned above are the most common, so these are what we will explore further.
The Ramp Test
This test is recognised throughout Europe, New Zealand, Australia, and USA. It is also the most widely used form of testing, since the majority of tiles specified in the UK are sourced from manufacturers based in Spain or Italy.
The ramp test is carried out with a person walking across the tiles that have been fixed to an adjustable ramp while being monitored closely. The subject who is walking across the tiles will be wearing very specific safety footwear. The tiles themselves will be covered in an oil and the angle of the ramp will be adjusted until the person on the ramp can no longer remain balanced. The angle of the ramp at the point of un-balance will be recorded.
The steeper the angle recording gives the higher the slip resistance of the tile. Based on this information the tile will be given an R-Rating of between 9 and 13. The higher the rating, the higher the slip resistance.
If we look at the table below, we can understand what sorts of tile finishes would be suitable for each R-Rating and the suggested areas these would be installed.
The Pendulum Test
The Pendulum test is the UK HSE’s preferred methods of testing slip resistance as the pendulum itself is portable so can be taken directly to sites and, therefore, can be used to test areas that accidents are likely to happen.
The Pendulum test is designed to measure the dynamic coefficient of friction (CoF). The test mirrors a heel striker of a shoe onto the point where slips occur.
Results gathered from the Pendulum Test are known as PTV or Slip Resistance Values. The table below shows how PTV’s are interoperated. This table relates to people walking on a flat surface. If the incline on the surface was to change so would the figures
A PTV test is a reliable robust method that measures the slipperiness of a floor. With slips and trips being the most common cause of injury in the workplace the Pendulum test method is the only method that is recognised by the HSE.
The test is carried out using a Pendulum tester, this piece of equipment measures the slip resistance of a floor covering. The measurement that is taken is between 125mm and 127mm as that is where the foot slider will contact the floor before leaving again and creating a reading.
The first part of the test is a dry test and will be carried out on a completely dry surface. The next part of the test will be carried out on a wet surface in three different directions. The 4th and 5th measurements will be recorded.
Slip ratings are categorized into three values: high slip potential, moderate slip potential, and low slip potential.
High slip potential will measure a PTV reading of below 24, a medium slip potential will achieve a reading of 25 to 35, and a low slip potential will measure a reading of above 36.
When performing the Pendulum test there are two sliders that can be used: one for shod pedestrians, and one for barefoot. It is essential to use the correct one.
Once we have performed the test we can then translate the information into what floor finished to use. Recommendations from the HSE say that floor finishes should achieve a Pendulum 4S (Slider 96) of 36+ for shod foot and Pendulum TRL (Slider 55) of 36+ for wet barefoot areas, to achieve a potential environment with a low slip potential.
For external floor areas it is good practice to use a structured tile that achieves a rating of 40+ with Pendulum 4 s (Slider 96) or Pendulum TRL (Slider 55) for a wet barefoot area. This is due to slight variations that can occur from tile to tile and different cleaning and maintenance protocols.
The benefits of measuring slip resistance with a Pendulum test are extensive. One of the main benefits are that it can be used in real workplace conditions. It also allows users to easily compare the slip resistance of clean and contaminated floors.
It is important to remember that the test measure the CoF and different sliders are used to simulate shod and barefoot conditions. It is important that the Pendulum test unit is operated correctly, if the pendulum is not set up correctly the data may be misleading. It is always recommended that the operators performing the test follow the UKSRG guidelines. The Pendulum test is the HSE’S preferred method of testing as it is accurate, portable and works in the slip environments themselves.
Taking all this information into account BluePrint Ceramics can offer an array of tiles to suit any requirements. We offer tiles with all R ratings from R9 through to R13. We have technical ranges that will offer the same shades in multiple finishes to make the tiles very adaptable to their environments.
BluePrint Ceramics can help our clients with all their slip resistance needs. We have our very own pendulum machine on site which means we can test tiles on demand. Our in-house service means we can find out immediately what PTV ratings a tile achieves. This is an invaluable service we can offer as it really enables our clients to plan their projects.
Slip Resistance FAQs
What does the law require in the UK in terms of slip Resistance?
This can vary depending on the type of premises, and different activities taking place on the surface itself. The general rule of thumb is that the floor should not be slippery under normal conditions.
Do different standards apply to different flooring materials?
Yes, there are lots of standards for different flooring materials. If you follow the UKSRG guidelines this will definitely help you to understand the slip potential of the material, you are dealing with. The guidelines will also assist you in considering the effects of cleaning, wear, and use of the area into which the flooring was installed.
I have a sample tile. Can you test it before I lay the floor?
Yes, we have an on-site pendulum tester and we offer a free-of-charge Pendulum slip test on the tile.
Will I receive a certificate with the results of the Pendulum Test?
Yes, we will issue you with a certificate with the results of the pendulum test. This can be emailed in PDF format.
Can I increase the slip resistance of a tile?
Yes, you can. We recommend anti-slip fluid called Lithofin. It is suitable for making slippery ceramics, enamel and natural stone slip resistant. The Lithofin Anti-Slip Fluid chemically reacts with the surface of ceramics, enamel, and silicate containing natural stones. The product etches small cavities into the surface, thereby increasing the slip resistance. It is suitable for indoor and outdoor use, for rendering surfaces slip resistant. It is particularly suitable for porcelain, glazed ceramics, enamel and natural stone, such as granite, gneiss, etc. This treatment also works on wet surfaces.
How do you measure slip resistance in barefoot situations?
The UKSRG guidelines cover the use of the Pendulum for barefoot areas. The guidelines detail a second rubber slider that will assess the slip potential barefoot in wet conditions.
How often should testing be conducted on a floor?
At least annually. Floors failing to achieve the required 36+PTV in the conditions of end use should be reassessed immediately after improvements have been made. There is no value in building up a record of a noncompliant surface over time.
Floors achieving 36+PTV in the conditions of end use should be retested regularly but the period between tests should be determined based on factors such as the PTV achieved, variations across the surface, flooring type, traffic and recontamination rates and previous recorded PTV’s.
There is no hard guidance on periods between testing, ultimately a constant record of compliant surfaces is the aim. Surfaces subject to varying contamination and cleaning regimes are more likely to generate varying slip resistances and so warrant a more frequent assessment.
It should be noted that the slip resistance of a surface will, in most cases, inevitably change over time, even if that surface has been subject to an anti-slip treatment. Wet slip resistance depends heavily on the roughness of both the macro and micro profile. Macro profile edges wear over time, reducing the effectiveness with which they cut through a lubricating film and into the shoe sole. Micro profiles are subject to wear, but also become clogged with dirt and/or cleaning residues over time, smoothing the surface and reducing the effective dispersal of a lubricating film. The best way to combat losses in slip resistance are with an effective cleaning regime.