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Using The Pendulum Test To Determine The Slip Resistance Of A Floor

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By Author: Ray Stobbart
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Statistics show that one third of all major accidents that are reported are due to slips, trips, and falls, and in most of the cases the problem is that the floor is in some way contaminated. While it is possible for someone to slip on a floor surface, it is usually a result of some sort of spill or other. This is why any spills on a floor should be wiped up as soon as possible, as even a small spill causes risk, so keeping floors clean is vital. If cleaning is poorly done, that can cause further hazard. For example, a spill of oil or grease that is not thoroughly cleaned off the floor can simply result in spreading the oil or grease over a larger area.

There are some facts regarding cleaning that should be considered, not the least of which it is that even a mop that is well rung out will still leave a wet residue which is a risk until it has dried. A mop which is dirty or greasy will spread more contamination around. Mopping on its' own is not enough on profile or rough floors, as manual brushing or mechanical brushing is needed also. Simply putting up a yellow warning sign doesn't prevent slips from occurring either.

Although it does happen, people very rarely slip on good, clean, well-maintained floors. They slip on floors which are in poor condition largely as a result of poor housekeeping. One thing which you should do is to carry out a risk assessment of your floor regarding likely risk when it is contaminated, and monitor it regularly, especially in high usage areas. You should also assess the type of cleaning that is being used and when it is carried out. Place matting close to entrances, as this will trap contaminants being brought in from outside the building. If the floor should become damaged or worn, repair it with like for like material so that the slip resistance is the same as the rest of the floor. Walkways should always be kept free from obstructions.

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 requires floors to be suitable, in good condition, and free from obstructions. It is probably fair to say that no two floors are exactly the same, because even if they are made of the same material, they will have different walk patterns and different uses which will affect the slip resistance of the surface. The slip resistance, or otherwise, is determined by the surface type of the floor, how easy it is to clean, and how it wears down over time.

The slip resistance of a floor can be increased by using grinders or shotblasting, or adding an anti-slip product such as an anti-slip coating, anti-slip tapes, and anti-slip stair nosings. However, with wear over time, the floor will return to its' original condition.

Many business owners are totally unaware of the slip resistance, or otherwise, of their floor surfaces, but this can be assessed with slip resistance testing. This is done with the Pendulum Test which uses a small portable piece of equipment to imitate the action of a heel striking the floor. The device is used in the direction of traffic flow, and also at 45° and 90° to the flow of traffic. The test is carried out in several different floor areas, and an average figure calculated at the end. This is called the Pendulum Test Value (PTV) and in order for the floor to be considered safe it has to be 36 or over. The test should be carried out by a trained person, and it is the only test recognised by the HSE. There are one or two other methods of testing, but they are not recognised because they can only be carried out on dry floors, whereas the Pendulum Test can be carried out on wet and dry floors.

Another test which can be carried out to supplement the Pendulum Test is the surface micro-measurement of roughness. This assesses the roughness of a floor's surface and produces an Rz value. The higher the Rz value is, the rougher the floor surface and therefore the likelihood of slips and falls is lessened.

4Earth Solutions is a manufacturer of a wide range of anti-slip floor treatments and can carry out slip resistance testing with a Pendulum Test to determine the PTV of your floor surface, and then apply an anti-slip treatment if required.

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