WHY DO FLOORS FAIL.
The choice of flooring specified within the various areas of a facility is one of the most important factors in preventing slip and fall accidents. Many factors should be considered when selecting flooring materials - cost, aesthetics, maintenance requirements, cleaning regimes, products and equipment and most importantly the floors function within the facility.
With these factors in mind, time should be taken to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of each flooring material that has been proposed to be used in the project.
Flooring materials should not contain any ridges or have any irregularities that cause an uneven surface or elevation which could be classed as a trip hazard. The flooring material should have a smooth surface without being slippery.
The coefficient of friction should also be tested on flooring materials to record the traction characteristics and gather sufficient data on the slip resistance of the material under a range of conditions and gather sufficient data on the slip resistance of the material under a range of conditions as floor specifiers do not take into account contaminates introduced during construction, degradation, use or wear of the floor, all of which can significantly affect the actual resistance to slips. Errors can be greatly reduced by testing floor samples to identify the correct product for its intended use.
The preferred method of measuring the COF is the Pendulum Slip Tester which gives reliable results in wet, oily or greasy conditions under which most reported slip accidents occur. This should be carried out by a trained, certified operator to ensure the test measurement is reliable.
The location and environment is another critical factor when specifying flooring materials. It is important to review the manufacturer's ratings and warnings to ensure that a flooring material is used in a compatible environment. For example, high traffic areas such as entrances and exits should be reviewed periodically to ensure the areas perform under a range of conditions including wet and snowy conditions and that they maintain a high coefficient of friction.
If the flooring material does not perform under certain conditions and has a low coefficient of friction, steps must be taken to remediate the situation, for example applying a slip resistant coating or treatment to dramatically increase the slip resistance of the areas concerned.
Inadequate floor maintenance is another area which needs to be addressed. All flooring will wear during its life-cycle and failure to repair defects can lead to injuries. Improper cleaning regimes and the use of incorrect or overuse of cleaning products can turn a safe floor into a safety risk. Products should only be used in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations as inappropriate use of cleaning products can reduce the slip-resistant rating of a floor. It is important to ensure that cleaning products used on a floor surface are compatible and application instructions are carefully followed. Once the appropriate cleaning product has been specified to clean the surface they should be applied in the exact manner written in the manufacturer's directions.
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