Ramp Test vs Pendulum Test
Many people in the flooring or risk assessment industry will be familiar with ramp testing and/or R ratings. These are often used or endorsed by architects and flooring professionals. Pendulum testing however, is becoming ever more popular due to its cost-effective nature and ease of application across different flooring samples. So, how do they compare?
What are they and how do they work?
There are two main types of ramp test. In the first, a contaminant is used whilst the test personnel wear safety boots and the resistance is tested. The other uses water on the surface and the personnel is barefoot. The personnel in each walk backwards and forwards on a flooring sample whilst increasing the incline of the ramp until they slip or friction is disturbed.
A slip resistance rating for that product is determined by the angle of the ramp. For the shod ramp test, an R rating is given. For the barefoot test, a rating of A, B or C is produced. Ramp testing is generally categorised as an ‘off-site’ activity because the complexity of the equipment requires the use of a laboratory setting.
Alternatively, pendulum testing does not require the use of such large equipment in a controlled setting like the ramp test, therefore it can be carried out on-site and is often utilised in legal slipping cases. In the case of a pendulum test, a weighted arm swings a rubber slider along a surface. The friction exerted onto the slider as it runs across the surface will result in a loss of momentum which then correlates to the slip resistance. The rubber slider can also be altered to a softer material to mimic barefoot rather than shod environments if necessary. The results are consistent, accurate and repeatable.
When would you use each type of slip testing?
In order to select which testing method it is important to first evaluate the reason for carrying out these tests for your business - in some cases, combining the two tests may be useful.
The floor ramp test can be used to provide forensic information regarding how different types of flooring and contaminants are likely to perform with your workforces footwear. As mentioned previously, ramp testing requires a sample of the flooring material(s) to be tested in a laboratory setting. Therefore, ramp testing can typically be used before a floor is laid, unless it is simple to remove a sample of your flooring in order to transport for testing.
Pendulum testing on the other hand can be carried out as part of your business’ routine risk assessment, on-site with little disruption. This means pendulum slip tests are ideal for testing a variety of your premises’ existing flooring without the need to remove a sample to send off for testing. When employing a reputable slip testing company to visit you on-site, pendulum tests can also be the quicker option meaning they are ideal in legal situations where you need the results delivered promptly.
What are the benefits of each?
Pendulum Testing – this type of slip testing is both internationally recognised and is the test of choice for the UK Health and Safety Executive, as well as being highly recognised in UK courts. The rubber material utilised in pendulum testing can meet the properties of general footwear or, if the rubber is altered to a softer material, it can imitate the way in which bare feet would interact with flooring.
Ramp Testing - The UK Health and Safety Laboratories (HSL) describes and recommends the laboratory based ramp testing as a “reliable way of determining reliable slip-resistance characteristics of flooring, footwear and associated contaminants” and can determine the results when these variables are used in combination. It is beneficial that the ramp test can assess a specific sole or heel material or tread pattern and can be used on the exact flooring sample type.
Which is more cost effective?
Pendulum testing tends to be much more cost effective. Due to the equipment and controlled laboratory conditions, ramp testing can often cost considerably more but can be beneficial in offering a variety of test variables. For information about which test would be most beneficial for your company it’s best to get in touch with a reputable slip testing company.
At National Testing we recognise that every company has its own unique slip testing needs which is why we tailor our services to offer you complete peace of mind. We are UKAS accredited meaning we offer only the best in slip testing services and detailed reports. Contact us today for more information.