A Quick Introduction to Slip Resistance Testing

It seems like nary a day goes by without someone being sued for a slip and fall incident. The idea of someone slipping and falling in a public place for the purpose of making money (via lawsuits) has become so common that it is now a running joke. An entire branch of the legal profession has now been dedicated to these kinds of incidents. Considering how easy it is to be sued in this manner, and how much money it can cost, it is very important for any business owner to be sure their floors are as slip-resistant as possible.

The process of evaluating a floor for its slipperiness is far more scientific than I would have at first thought. But again, with so much money at stake, it is no surprise. Slip resistance testing standards exist in various industries in order to meet this growing problem. When these tests are performed, they usually center around the testing of a friction coefficient. In simpler terms, this is just a measure of how well two given substances will adhere to one another. The testing standards call for both dry and wet testing.

49 different countries have adopted a pendulum-style slip tester. These simple but effective devices are mounted on a tripod over the surface to be tested. First, a zero-friction reading is taken. This gives the device its baseline reading. A scale on one side of the device is calibrated accordingly. After this, the user simply allows the swinging arm of the pendulum to swing down, skimming the surface of the floor as it goes. By looking at the gauge, the user can determine exactly how far the pendulum swings after making contact with the surface. Naturally, it is important to adjust the height of the arm to an appropriate level. One of the best things about this device is that it does not rely on any mechanical or electrical power source. It is totally hand-operated.

A more technologically advanced solution is the tribometer. A tribometer is a machine that often looks like a box on wheels. As you would expect, it travels the floor under its own power, dragging a small piece of rubber or leather against the surface of the floor as it moves. Such devices are normally not operated by remote control (although they can be). More often, they are programmed to traverse a short path (often less than a foot). The device’s onboard computers measure the amount of drag that is generated against the rubber/leather pad, printing the results out on a small slip of paper.

One advantage of a computerized device is that it can be programmed with a variety of different settings for a variety of flooring types and/or conditions. To make the most of these testing methods, most nations and international regulatory bodies have come up with very specific guidelines for many different materials and conditions. A lot of business owners are tired of being sued and are willing to go the extra mile.