Why R Rating Slip Test Does Not Always Apply
When specifying the slip resistance for a floor surface within a building most people will refer to Table 3 of Standards Australia Hand Book HB 197, An Introductory Guide to the Slip Resistance of Pedestrian Surface Materials. The table provides a list of locations with corresponding pendulum and ramp recommendations. While many people feel safe in the knowledge that they have specified a complying oil wet ramp slip test (R Rating), many people are still unaware of the implications of specifying solely on this slip resistance test method.
The R Rating slip test is achieved by two people walking on a test panel contaminated with oil and wearing safety boots. The test panel is inclined until they slip or feel that they will slip on the test panel. The R Rating slip test is determined by the mean angle of inclination achieved and a correction factor based 3 calibration boards that are also tested.
In contrast the pendulum slip test is portable and consists of a weighted foot with a test slider that swings down and slides across the surface wetted with water. The weighted foot comprises a spring loaded rubber test slider that exerts a prescribed force over the specimen as it slides across the surface.
The slip test methods used to specify a floor surface should simulate the intended conditions for normal usage in terms of the contaminant likely to be present and the footwear intended to be worn. The above table will assist in determining the most appropriate test for the area being considered.
The R Rating slip test which uses safety boots with large volumetric tread pattern and high viscosity motor oil, seems to be of little relevance for normal conditions. The R Rating slip test is more suitable for commercial kitchens and industrial areas, where people will be using specialised shoes and viscous contaminants are likely to be encountered. The pendulum test using water and a flat rubber slider is more appropriate for most public common areas, where the most likely contaminant is water and many people will be wearing flat soled shoes.
In many instances, R10-rated products have achieved the lowest pendulum classification, indicating an extreme risk of slipping in wet conditions and a potentially litigious situation. If you have specified an R rating, only the wet pendulum tests can be conducted onsite and is almost always the test that will determine the ultimate safety of a floor in legal proceedings.
Carl Strautins is Property Risk Consultant with Safe Environments Pty Ltd, providing slip resistance, and tiling testing and consulting services. Carl’s career started at CSIRO conducting research in the area of slip resistance. He holds a BSc (Materials Science), an MSc (OHS Management) and is a member of Australian Standards Committees BD-044 Fixing of Ceramic, Natural and Reconstituted Stone Tiles, BD-094 Slip Resistance of Flooring Surfaces. Carl is pioneering the integration of accelerated wear test methods and slip resistance quality management systems.
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