Published on 09 January 2020 14:59

Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls

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Key Learning outcomes
  • Understanding slip resistance and LVT
  • Testing slip resistance
  • Key considerations and regulations
  • Keeping up appearances – don’t forget aesthetics
  • Slip-resistant LVT in action
Slips and trips are the most common cause of injuries in the workplace, costing employers £512million per year. On average, slips and trips cause over a third of all major accidents – and more than 40% of all reported injuries to members of the public. HSE (Health & Safety Executive) statistics suggest that most of these are caused by slips, trips or falls, the majority of which occur when floor surfaces are contaminated (usually by substances such as water, talcum powder, grease, etc).

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 require floors to be suitable, in good condition and free from obstructions, to ensure people are able to move around safely.

Research by the HSL (Health & Safety Laboratory) for HSE identified a number of factors that can contribute to slip accidents. These include the location and use of a floor within a building, its environmental surroundings, the footwear worn on it, cleaning products used and the actual flooring material itself.

Given that different areas of buildings (particularly high traffic environments) can require different levels of flooring performance and slip resistance, it is important to consider the following key points.

1.0 Understanding slip resistance

The term ‘slip resistance’ refers to surfaces that are designed to offer protection against slipping, regardless of what foreign materials may be found on them, such as water or grease. Different types of flooring offer differing levels of slip resistance; for example, ceramic and porcelain tile floors are known to be notoriously slippery (especially when wet), while carpet varies depending on its material pile and density. As a result, it is recommended to consider a dedicated product designed principally with slip resistance in mind, such as LVT (luxury vinyl tile) safety flooring.

Slip resistance is achieved by increasing the friction between the foot and the floor, in order to provide underfoot protection, particularly in areas where spillages can occur.

A combination of safety aggregates and slip-resistant particles (such as quartz, aluminium oxide, silicon carbide and ceramic microspheres) allow for friction levels to be increased. When liquid or another contaminant is spilled, it creates what is referred to as a ‘squeeze film’ between the foot and the floor. The roughness of high friction, particle-based safety flooring is able to penetrate this squeeze film, so both foot and floor remain in contact with one another.

Any style of flooring without particles and just a shallow emboss should ultimately be considered as a relatively smooth surface, meaning ‘water wet’ conditions will present a high risk of the people slipping on the floor due to the squeeze film not being broken.

As LVT consists of four laminated layers plus a urethane coating, it is considered a high fidelity and extremely durable flooring product. This structure also helps in terms of slip resistance as, by distributing particles throughout the multiple wear layers ensures a consistent performance over the floor’s lifetime. Plus, this also ensures longer lasting slip resistance when compared to products with the particles in just the urethane coating alone.

Slip resistance is achieved by increasing the friction between the foot and the floor, in order to provide underfoot protection, particularly in areas where spillages can occur.
Slip resistance is achieved by increasing the friction between the foot and the floor, in order to provide underfoot protection, particularly in areas where spillages can occur.
 
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Amtico UK & European Sales
Solar Park
Southside
Solihull
West Midlands
B90 4SH
Louisa Eyles
Tel +44 (0)121 745 0800
louisa.eyles@amtico.com
The information contained in the CPD article web pages is not intended and accordingly shall not be relied upon either as a substitute for professional advice or judgement or to provide legal or other advice with respect to any particular circumstance. RIBA Enterprises accepts no responsibility for loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from action as a result of the information contained.
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