Flooring: Play it safe
By Chris Rand, Senior Marketing Executive, Forbo Flooring Systems
There are many factors that can cause slips, trips and falls, which is why is it important to understand why they happen and how to prevent them. Indeed, slips don’t just happen; one or more common factors usually play a part in any accident. In fact, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the key factors that affect slips are cleaning, contamination, flooring, footwear and environmental and human factors; and these factors form the basis of the Slip Potential Model.
The practical measures that can be taken to reduce slip risk will vary in different situations. For example, keeping floors free of obstructions that could present a slip or trip risk, having control measures in place to manage occasional spillages and carrying out wet cleaning when the space is unoccupied will reduce the risk to workers and other occupants of a building.
Other measures may be more targeted. For example, the use of an appropriate grade of slip resistant floor covering (safety floor) in areas where continuous contamination is expected, such as cooking oil and grease in commercial kitchens or excess water in bathrooms, which cannot be controlled by cleaning alone. In such cases, it is vital that the slip resistance properties of the selected floor covering are sustainable throughout the lifecycle of the product. Therefore, it is important to understand how they are tested and what the slip ratings mean.
The Pendulum Test
The Pendulum Test is recommended by the HSE to assess the slip resistance of floor surfaces. The test can assess slip resistance in both dry and contaminated conditions and measures the coefficient of friction of a floor surface to provide a slip potential classification. The UK Slip Resistance Group and HSE guidelines demonstrate that a pendulum test value (PTV) of zero to 24 indicates high slip potential, a PTV of 24 to 35 signifies moderate slip potential, meanwhile a PTV of 36 or higher is classified as low slip risk.
Slip resistance performance here is based on ramp test ratings; and “an R Value” is often quoted. However, it is a common misconception that R10 floor coverings are extremely slip-resistant, with some people believing that the scale starts at R1, when in fact it starts at R9. Ramp test values are based on ex-factory testing and do not take account of changes in slip resistant properties that could occur during the working life of the floor covering. DIN51130 ramp test values should not, therefore, be considered in isolation.
The European standard
Another important factor to consider is the long-term slip resistance of flooring in use. EN13845:2017 is the European standard for PVC floor coverings with particle-based (e.g., carborundum, cork) enhanced slip resistance, commonly referred to as safety floors. The test methods referenced in this standard for determining slip resistance of floor coverings are wet tests, both barefoot and with footwear (shod), based on the Ramp test and the Pendulum test.Products can be classified as ESf (Enhanced Slip for use with footwear) or ESb (Enhanced Slip for barefoot use) to this standard (or both).
Forbo’s solution: STEP
Forbo Flooring Systems’ STEP safety flooring collection is a complete range of products that meet safety requirements across a wide variety of different applications. STEP is the perfect solution not only in general spaces, but also in more extreme areas, such as wetrooms, commercial kitchens or industrial applications.
The collection, which consists of 11 individual ranges, provides a variety of solutions which together meet European (BS EN 13845 class Esf & Esb) and HSE safety requirements; It has a pendulum test value of ≥ 36 to ≥ 50 and is available in all relevant slip ratings from R10 to R12.
What’s more, it also delivers guaranteed slip resistant performance throughout its lifetime and is available in a variety of on-trend colours and designs to give more freedom in creating beautiful interiors, without having to compromise on slip resistance.
For more information about Forbo’s safety flooring collection, visit www.forbo-flooring.co.uk/step.