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Safety Standards for Slips, Trips and Falls

October 4, 2013

According to the National Safety Council, compensation and medical costs associated with employee slip and fall accidents are approximately $70 billion annually. There are many factors that contribute to slip and fall accidents such as footwear type, walkway type, surface levelness, surface texture, surface contaminants, weather conditions, indoor/outdoor light, inadequate signs and warnings and walkway load. Fifty-five percent of slip and falls come from walking surface and twenty-four percent come from footwear.

There are International and National safety standards that should be researched before installation of slip resistant flooring:

International:

American National Standards Institute (ANSI) / National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI): In December 2009, the NSI/NFSI B101.1-2009 “Test Method for Measuring Wet SCOF of Common Hard Surface Floor Materials,” was published, establishing the first wet test method. The standard does not simply categorize walkways as safe or unsafe due to its COF value, but it identifies its traction range into three categories.

  • High Traction: surfaces whose wet SCOF is 0.6 or greater
  • Moderate Traction: walkways whose wet SCOF is below a 0.6 but greater than a value of 0.4
  • Low Traction: walkways which possess a wet SCOF of less than 0.4

Based on years of clinical studies, the NFSI found that floors whose wet SCOF was that of a 0.6 value or greater reduced slip and fall claims by as much as 90 percent.

National:

1.) American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM): The technical committee “Safety and Traction for Footwear” includes safety and traction for walkway surfaces as well as practices related to the prevention of slips and falls. ASTM has numerous testing methods that test static and dynamic coefficient of friction such as the English XL Variable Incidence Tribometer, British Pendulum Tester, The James Machine and The Brungraber Mark. All of these test methods measure dry, wet or contaminated conditions and the COF values must be 0.4 or greater.

2.) American Disabilities Act (ADA): In the standards for accessible design, 4.5.1 Ground and Floor Surfaces states that ground and floor surfaces along accessible routes and in accessible rooms and spaces including floors, walks, ramps, stairs, and curb ramps shall be stable, firm and slip resistant. In 4.8.6 Cross Slopes and Surfaces it states that the cross slope of ramp surfaces shall be no greater than 1:50. The recommendations for flat surfaces are 0.60 COF and 0.80 COF for incline surfaces.

OSHA’s office of Regulatory Analysis states “companies that implement effective safety and health programs can expect reduction of 20% or greater in their injury and illness rates and a return of $4 to $6 for ever $1 invested. The American Society of Safety Engineers also calls investment in improving workplace safety “a sound business strategy” with a “positive impact on the financial bottom line”.

Sources: http://www.ada.gov/adastd94.pdf

http://www.englishxl.com/stds.htm

http://www.dot.ca.gov/research/researchreports/2002-2006/2006/ucprc-tm-2006-10.pdf

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