Slip and Falls – Measurement in the Field

Article by: Vincent Rochon, P.Eng and Co-CEO.

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Slip and falls. The most common accident in the history of man. Despite its extensive history, the investigation of slip and falls remains somewhat shrouded in mystery. For example, the Ontario Building Codes indicates that flooring materials shall be “slip resistant”, but provides no quantifiable measure of what constitutes “slip resistant”. The slip resistance of a floor can be measured using several instruments; however, each instrument has its own particular limitations. The device with the longest history of measuring slip resistance is what is known as the British Pendulum; this is the instrument currently used by Roar Engineering to measure the slip resistance of materials. Its continuous use in the industry since 1971 has resulted in it being the most rigorously validated slip resistance test instrument. It is also the national standard for pedestrian slip resistance in 48 countries. This is a device that swings a pendulum with a rubber test foot at a constant speed along a floor surface. The more slip resistant the floor, the more the pendulum will slow down while its test foot is in contact and will produce a higher friction measurement. This device can even be tested with different rubber test feet of different softness, to take into account barefoot walking scenarios vs a common shoe. The downside to this device is it is large, heavy and bulky. Furthermore, setup requires several minutes, even by a skilled user. Fortunately, these downsides only affect the user (the engineer), and there is no downside to you, our client.

There are downsides / frailties to the results obtained from other popular devices used by other experts in this field. As an example, a popular device in use moves relatively slowly compared to a person’s walking foot movement, which can result in a “suction cupping” effect on wet surfaces, creating higher slip resistance measurements than appropriate. The upside to these other devices is their portability and size compared to the British Pendulum. This upside only benefits the user, and has no real benefit to their client (the insurance adjuster or the lawyer). If you would like to discuss the pitfalls of these other devices, or you would like Roar Engineering to test the slip resistance of a particular surface with the British Pendulum, please give Vincent a call at Roar Engineering (1-844-235-8465).

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