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Commercial Flooring News

Slip Resistance Flooring

John Mellor with advice on specifying safety flooring

THE UK safety flooring market is experiencing significant change with the introduction of innovative new ranges which offer sustainable slip resistance combined with new decorations.
The latest safety floors feature slip resistant particles that are almost invisible to the naked eye yet still offer continued underfoot safety in compliance with the HSE & UK Slip Resistance Group Guidelines.
The current trend is for this slip resistance to be virtually imperceptible yet perform over a number of years. It is increasingly achieved using carborundum-free particles closely allied to the base colour and give the look of a smooth vinyl.
These latest decorative safety floor developments have seen a growth in the installation of safety flooring in areas where it would have never been considered 10 years ago. So, as decoration is evolving to meet market demands and trends, attractive slip resistant flooring is becoming more prominent in interior design.
The development of PUR reinforcements ensure that today’s decorative safety floors are easier to clean, further supporting their use in high traffic areas.
However, these products are primarily specified for their slip resistance. Contractors and specifiers must know about the performance of the products they specify. In past years, the presence of slip resistance was apparent with the traditional aggregate clearly visible.
Today there is often little difference in the decoration of a fully HSE compliant safety floor and a smooth vinyl. But remember that sustainable wet slip resistance is key. The product must continue to perform in situ.
Everyone in the specification chain has a duty of care to ensure that safety flooring specified must have sufficient friction to minimise slip risk.
Do check that the manufacturer can support sustainable slip resistance claims in accordance with HSE Guidance as well as the appropriate safety flooring standard.
To meet the low slip potential classification from the HSE, a safety floor must achieve an in-situ Pendulum Test result of 36+ in the wet and a surface roughness of 20 microns +.
Similarly, conforming to EN 13845 (European safety flooring standard) for particle based products is a must.
Ensuring the ‘invisible’ particles in a safety floor are durable and continue to perform over a sustainable period as the vinyl wears is equally vital, so the chosen manufacturer should be able to confirm conformance to the 50,000 cycles abrasion test, a key component detailed within EN 13845.
Specification of safety flooring must not be made solely against R values taken from the German DIN 51130 Ramp Test. Specifying safety floors only on the basis of an ex-factory R10 rating could result in issues and slip risks further down the line.
The Ramp Test is an ex-factory method of assessing slip resistance that takes no account of wear or maintenance.
An ex-factory R value can be achieved through the incorporation of just a textured emboss or aggregate coating which will wear over time, diminishing performance.
Over reliance on R values may have serious consequences down the line for those in the specification chain and of course individuals using the floor.
Production process to allow the development of HSE compliant safety floors are highly sophisticated, ensuring sustainable slip resistance for the guaranteed life of the product.
As the market develops and products become more decorative, knowledge of key performance criteria becomes even more important.
Stick to the products and manufacturers you know and trust, who have the experience and knowledge of slip resistance to give you complete piece of mind.
John Mellor is market manager for safety flooring at Polyflor

This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal. You can find them at www.contractflooringjournal.co.uk.