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A Look at Slip Resistant Floor Treatments.

Products designed to reduce slip and fall accidents vary widely in effectiveness, particularly on wet surfaces, a new research study reveals. Slip and fall accidents cost businesses significant amounts of money each year in workers' comp and general liability claims.

According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), more than one million people are seriously injured as the result of slip and falls each year. Death results in 11,000 of these incidents. Slip and fall accidents are the second most common workplace injury, causing 300,000 disabling and 1,400 fatal incidents annually, according NIOSH.

The study, conducted by ESIS Risk Control Services, a business unit of Philadelphia-based Ace USA, used a slip resistance measurement device known as the Variable Incidence Tribometer to determine exactly how well a given product worked--that is to determine the precise amount by which a product increased slip resistance on certain surfaces under certain conditions. Ten vendors participated in the study.

Two types of floor surfaces were tested: glazed ceramic tile and marble, each in 12" by 12" squares. The products were tested on each surface, first dry, then wet.

"While most of the products tested provided some measure of improvement, others actually decreased slip resistance on flooring materials, while still others offered a marked improvement in slip resistance," says Steven Di Pilla, director of product development and training for Risk Control Services at Ace, and principal architect of the study.

Other findings of the study include:

* On dry ceramic, all 10 products increased slip resistance, but the range varied greatly. Three products increased slip resistance above 0.90--on a index of i to 0.1 with 1 being highly slip resistant. Five products did not reach a slip index of 0.70.

* On wet ceramic, with most untreated tiles ranging between 0.10 and 0.20, nine out of the 10 products increased slip resistance. Two products exceeded 0.90, but six failed to reach the average slip index guideline (0.50).

* On dry marble, which if untreated generally exceeds the slip index guideline, eight out of nine products increased slip resistance. Only one product exceeded 0.90, but two others exceeded 0.80. Five products increased slip resistance to within the 0.60 to 0.80 range.

* On wet marble, with untreated tiles ranging in the 0.10 to 0.20 range, eight out of nine products increased slip resistance, but only two products showed a dramatic increase. One product exceeded 0.90, one exceeded 0.80, and the other seven failed to exceed 0.40--including four that failed to exceed 0.20.

"There are a lot of things to consider when trying to reduce slip and fall accidents," Di Pilla says. "You have to consider if you can afford to have your surface treated professionally, or if you have the staff and resources to do it yourself. You also need to try products out to see if they lose their effectiveness over time. And if the appearance of your surface is important, for instance at a retail facility, you also need to test and see if a particular product affects the surface upon application, or over a longer period of time."

Di Pilla also stresses that companies need to be wary of vendors' claims. For example, a vendor may say that a product meets the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements or the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, which are generally 0.50 and 0.60, respectively. But these standards do not show how testing is done, so the results can vary according to the testing method.

In another example, a vendor could claim that a product meets the American Society for Testing and Materials standards. But these standards are simply testing procedures to be followed.

Besides surface treatments, Di Pilla says that it is important to remember to use other simple methods, such as mats, footwear, and good spill cleanup programs.
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Author:Capozzi, Michael
Publication:Risk & Insurance
Date:Oct 1, 2000
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