Pedestrian surfaces can be litigation minefields. Understand the slip resistance of your project and know how to reduce your risk of litigation.
In today’s world of litigation, it appears that accidents never happen, someone is always to blame – slips and falls are no exception. Pedestrian surfaces are becoming litigation minefields following falls on surfaces as wide ranging as polished stone to linoleum and bitumen roadways. There is a need for everyone from the architect to the maintenance supervisor to keep in mind the potential hazard of all pedestrian surfaces.
The Australian Standard on “Slip resistance classification of new pedestrian surface materials” AS 4586:2013, can be used as a tool to minimise or determine the likelihood of a slip/fall incident. AS 4663:2013 provides test methods for measuring the slip resistance of existing pedestrian surfaces.
Both standards detail methods for the determination of the frictional characteristics of a surface in either a wet or dry condition. When dealing with a wet floor, the standard can classify a surface according to its “contribution to the risk of slipping when wet”.
Handbook HB198:2014 published by Standards Australia is invaluable in interpreting the test results and determining the suitability of the surface for various locations.
Testing of a representative sample of a surface on site or prior to laying (in most cases) is possible. This option allows the slip resistance characteristics to be included as part of the material specification requirement for the job and thereby adding confidence to the suitability of the surface chosen.
Relying on initial test results throughout the life of a surface though, may not be enough. Traffic, the environment and cleaning methods can change the finish and therefore the slipperiness of a surface. A polished surface can become rougher through abrasion, while a rough, textured surface may slowly polish under traffic and become smoother and therefore less slip resistant. “Non-skid” tile finishes are a good example, the dusted coating on the tile may wear leaving a polished surface. Periodic monitoring of the tiles slip resistance may be required.
Surface treatments are often used to improve slip resistance. When considering the application of a surface treatment, some important questions need to be asked. Do you know if the treatment is effective in increasing the slip resistance of the surface? If so, for how long? Will high traffic areas become more slippery?
A positive first step in reducing your risk is determining the slip resistance of your pedestrian surfaces. Stone Initiatives has wide experience in slip resistance, both in product testing and litigation. We hold NATA accreditation and are equipped to carry out testing in the laboratory or anywhere in Australia.
If we can be of assistance please call +61 (08) 8391 6844 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Article current as of June 2020.
More on slip resistance here.