Correctly specified and applied synthetic resin flooring is well proven as an effective method of protecting substrates and providing excellent levels of slip resistance in wet, dry and contaminated conditions, especially within high risk areas such as food and drink processing, commercial catering and heavy industrial environments.
Pre-planning at the design stage to evaluate the environment and the use of the floor is critical. The following criteria should be examined before proceeding with the design of the floor, to ensure the causes of slips are minimised.
- Operating environment (type, concentration and frequency of likely spillage / contaminant)
- Surface regularity (i.e. does the floor ‘free drain’ or does standing water accumulate ?)
- Insitu drainage and / or new drainage requirements
- Regular cleaning procedures
- Safety footwear
While processes designed to avoid spillage/contamination is one essential part of any slip risk management approach, it is inevitable that occasions will arise when slippery conditions will occur and reliance will be placed on the floor finish to minimise risk. As such, it is essential that floors are designed to handle the extremes of operating conditions to minimise risk and fully meet duty of care responsibilities.
This guidance note will explain the main methods for measuring the level of slip resistance offered by a resin floor finish in line with the main methods recognised in the UK. It will then briefly cover other factors that help manage and minimise the overall risk of a slip related incident.
2. MEASURING THE LEVEL OF SLIP RESISTANCE PROVIDED BY RESIN FLOORING
As with any basic measure of performance, regardless of industry, most countries will have their own opinions and approved standards/methods by which performance should be assessed. Across Europe, there are a number of
test methods that architects and specifiers refer to, but there are only 2 that are formally recognised in the UK within official standards that relate to flooring.
2.1 UK FORMALLY RECOGNISED METHODS FOR MEASURING SLIP RESISTANCE
The most widely recognised scientific approach for the assessment of whether a floor offers an acceptable level of slip resistance is measurement of the dynamic co-efficient of friction. This assessment is normally carried out using swinging ‘pendulum’ equipment, which whilst of US origin, was further developed by the Transport & Road Research Laboratory (TRRL) for assessing both the skid resistance of road surfaces, and the slip resistance of pedestrian areas. This method has since been adopted by BSI for the British Standards in the BS 8204 series dealing with in-situ floorings (BS8204-6 relates to Synthetic Resin Flooring in particular). The construction and use of the Pendulum is specified in BS 7976.
This equipment is used widely both in the UK and overseas because it is portable and can be used to determine the slip resistance of even small areas in situ. It is the standard reference method adopted by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) Laboratories, Sheffield.
3. ACCEPTABLE LEVELS OF SLIP RESISTANCE
The BS 8204 series of standards for in situ floorings (including BS 8204-6: Synthetic Resin Floorings), specify that any flooring should give a Pendulum Test Value (PTV) of not less than 40 when tested wet or dry (130 on the SlipAlert) as appropriate for the anticipated service conditions, including any likely surface contamination.
All anti-slip coatings from RM Suppliers meet this particular criteria - shop today.
All anti-slip coatings from RM Suppliers meet this particular criteria - shop today.
There is a rider that ‘in particularly wet areas, the client should be advised of the benefits of the use of special footwear with slip resistant soles, which can allow a smoother floor finish to be adopted. In such situations a PTV of not less than 33 may be acceptable.(145 on the SlipAlert)
4. MANAGING THE LEVEL OF SLIP RESISTANCE PROVIDED BY RESIN FLOORING
As stated in the introduction, the design and correct installation of a resin floor is an essential part of the risk management process. However, even the best of floors will not deliver the desired level of performance if daily business operations are not tailored to help minimise risk.
4.1 REGULAR CLEANING PROCEDURES
The recommended method for managing slip resistance is to ensure that a regular and effective cleaning regime is implemented that complies with the resin flooring manufacturer’s recommendations. If the incorrect cleaning regime is used, a build up of contaminants may quickly form, which could reduce the level of slip resistance available to an unacceptable level.
The most effective cleaning method will normally require the use of mechanical floor cleaning machines in conjunction with cleaning chemicals approved by the resin flooring manufacturer. It is essential that the cleaning chemical supplier is made fully aware of the types of contaminant that are likely to come into contact with the floor to ensure that the most effective product is specified. There are a number of cleaning specialists that can help e.g. Columbus Cleaning Limited.
The frequency of cleaning should be tailored to ensure that acceptable levels of slip resistance are available at all times. Regular monitoring of the slip resistance will provide an assurance of effective cleaning.
4.2 THE IMPORTANCE OF CONTAMINANT VISCOSITY
Floors can become contaminated by a wide variety of elements, such as water, fats, oils or a combination of these. The only way to determine if the floor is likely to be safe in the presence of such contaminants or combinations of
such contaminants is to test it with the Pendulum or SlipAlert in those conditions. Therefore, should the types of contaminant change, it is essential to re-assess the floor to ensure that it can continue to offer acceptable levels of slip resistance. Accordingly, when designing a floor or re-assessing a floor, it is paramount that the client confirms exactly which contaminants are likely to be present to enable a full assessment to be conducted.
4.3 SURFACE REGULARITY
The surface regularity and degree of fall of any floor finish will largely determine the tendency for water and other contaminants to ‘pond’ (sit in puddles). Ponding can result in higher than anticipated contaminant film thicknesses, which can have an adverse effect on the levels of slip resistance achievable.
Due to their method of application, synthetic resin floorings will inevitably follow the profile of the underlying substrate. The degree of regularity required to minimise ponding should therefore be defined in advance both on new-build or refurbishment projects. The straight edge method given in BS8204-1 is generally satisfactory for the majority of floor uses and the design should specify an appropriate class of local surface regularity.
SR2 which can allow up to a 5mm deviation over a 2 metre straight edge is more than acceptable for most industrial situations. Where free draining floors are required in wet environments, a minimum fall of 1 in 80 should be specified. However, a textured surface may require a higher fall to allow contaminants to drain naturally.
In certain industrial situations where floor contamination is unavoidable and there is a requirement for a less heavily textured flooring solution or the existing flooring is offering slip resistance of less than 40, specialist footwear can be employed to help achieve an acceptable solution. It must however be recognised that:
a. Only a few ‘safety’ shoes/boots offer true enhanced slip resistance in wet conditions
b. Not all enhanced footwear will be effective in any specific situation
c. Such footwear needs to be worn by all those who walk across the floor
d. The footwear needs to be regularly monitored by a member of staff formally trained to assess when safety may be compromised.
e. Footwear is worn to a point at which effectiveness has declined to an unacceptable level.
Epoxy resin finishes with anti slip properties have been proven over time to be 'fit for purpose'. They are not, however, self cleaning. Regular maintenance should therefore be part of the plan. The correct profile of anti slip is also important - both for the comfort of the user and its ability to perform under the required conditions.
Most epoxy resins will be resistant to hot water washing, which is widely used in industry. However, if your process requires genuine 'steam cleaning'- then you should be looking at a minimum thickness of 9mm for the resin finish.
This is usually a polyurethane resin and should be applied by specialist contractors.