Floor Safety and Pendulum Slip Testing FAQs
From flooring legal requirements to the difference between a ramp test and pendulum test, National Testing take a look at 5 frequently asked questions to get you started in building your commercial floor safety knowledge.
What are the legal requirements for slip testing?
Both the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 dictate that any commercial premises has a duty to safeguard all those on-site including workers, visitors and members of the public. These standards highlight that everyone is kept safe from harm which, of course, incorporates injuries from slips and trips, and that a company takes necessary action to mitigate these risks.
Failure to comply with these regulations can result in some unsatisfying outcomes for your company. Not only can an injury result in a loss of profit from injury related sickness, but claimants are entitled to seek injury compensation which can amount to extremely large sums of money. If you are seen to have breached health and safety regulations, and have not put in sufficient measures to avoid such accidents, that negligence can also result in an additional £20,000 fine and up to 12 months in prison. That alone is worth ensuring your premises is regularly check against the health and safety standards.
Expectations will differ depending on the premises and the use of the flooring. However, there aren’t any definitions as to what level of slip resistance is required. This is why it's important that you discuss your working environment with a slip testing consultant who can guide you on the satisfactory level of slip resistance.
How often should I test my flooring?
Again, there are no strict guidelines as to how often you should test your flooring. However, you must be carrying out regular risk assessments and looking at the safety of your flooring as part of this. When you see what the consequences can be of not having a safe working environment, it is clear this should be a regular effort.
A slip test should ideally be completed at least annually, but this can depend on the type of flooring and what activities the flooring withstands. Heavy footfall and lots of wear can rapidly reduce the roughness of your flooring surface, leading to a higher chance of it becoming slippery quicker.
If your flooring is regularly contaminated, such as in a kitchen space, this can also result in the surface becoming less slip resistant over time. If you test your flooring and it is achieving low values, you should test more regularly so you can monitor this in case it falls below the standard before your next yearly test.
The best way to combat injuries from slips is to ensure you have a regular cleaning regime and test your flooring as often as possible. Make sure you keep a clear record of this too.
What values must my floor achieve to ‘pass’ the slip test?
Legal requirements state that flooring should be safe enough to reduce the risk of slips to a sufficient level. This means it isn’t as simple as a ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ result and there are different considerations to make.
A pendulum slip test outlines 3 levels of results that can be produced. Results will show a pendulum test value (PTV) of 0-24 for high slip potential, a PTV of 25-35 for moderate slip potential and a PTV of 36+ for a low slip potential. So, you should always aim to have values higher than 36 to evidence you are providing the highest of safety standards.
You should consider the conditions in which these values are achieved too. On most flooring, you will find that there will be a safe level of grip on dry surfaces, but when they become wet, the value is poor. You have to ask yourself if you are likely to maintain a dry surface. If not, you need to consider how you will ensure the surface remains safe when it does become contaminated with wet conditions. As soon as a flooring surface shows results close to a PTV of 36, you should consider immediate actions to raise this value.
What is the difference between a Ramp Test and a Pendulum Slip Test?
Pendulum Slip Test
Pendulum Slip Test utilises a tool that sweeps over an area of flooring, measuring the slipperiness and providing a PTV result which is easily comparable to see any deterioration over time . The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), after much research, has deemed this method the most reliable and accurate, and promotes its use in commercial settings to measure both dry and contaminated conditions.
There are two ramps tests to choose from. One measures the slip resistance of a contaminated surface (usually with water) with personnel safety footwear. Another measures the contaminated surface against a personnel who is barefoot. In both of these methods, the test subjects walk forwards and backwards over the contaminated surface. The gradient of the sample is gradually increased until the test subject slips.The angle in which the slip occurs is then translated into a Coefficient of Friction (CoF) measurement.
Should I get a UKAS accredited company to carry out the tests?
UKAS stands for United Kingdom Accreditation Service and outlines how companies within the body should be operating at international accreditation standards. This is assessed by the service regularly.
Although research has highlighted the reliability of anti-slip methods such as pendulum tests, this will also depend on who is conducting the test. Using services from a company that is UKAS accredited not only ensures the test is carried accurately but also that you are supplied with in depth reporting.
Some types of flooring require very specific and varied testing. For peace of mind that you are operating adequate tests consider hiring an accredited professional.
If you are unsure of what is required of your business or are in need of some advice contact the professionals at National Testing today. We operate throughout the UK guaranteeing a quality UKAS accredited service.