Standards Related to Slip-Resistance
There are many different slip-resistance testing standards.  The proliferation of standards creates confusion by both consumers of slip-resistance testing services and even those offering such services. Below is a summary of the American Society of Testing Materials (ASTM) standards on slip resistance that may help sort out the confusing world of tribometry


Standards Dealing with Testing Methods for Slip Resistance

ASTM F-1679 (expired)

The is the testing method which was specific to the English XL tribometer.  Because the standard used a proprietary, patented testing method, which was counter to ASTM guidelines, and that a specific precision statement was not available the standard was left to expire in 2006.  The testing method however, is still valid and an effective way to evaluate hazards on floors.  The English XL was subsequently shown to meet the new ASTM F-2508 standard.  The English XL is approved for both dry and wet testing and the testing method can be used on nearly all surfaces.  This method avoids the problem of sticktion by applying the horizontal and vertical forces simultaneously.

ASTM F-1677 (expired)

This testing method was also specific to a device called the Brungraber Mark II.  This method also used a proprietary, patented testing method, which was counter to ASTM guidelines and did not have a specific precision statement, so this standard was also left to expire.  The testing method however, is still valid and an effective way to evaluate hazards on floors. This method, like the English XL  is also approved for dry and wet testing. The method can be used on nearly all surfaces. The method also avoids the problem of sticktion by applying the horizontal and vertical forces simultaneously.  This device has not be put through a F-2508 approval to date.

ASTM F-1678 (expired)

This test method covers the operational procedures for using a portable articulated strut slip tester (PAST) to determine the slip resistance of footwear sole, heel, or related materials (test feet) against planar walkway surfaces or walkway surrogates (test surfaces) in either the laboratory or field under dry conditions.

ASTM F-489 (expired)

This covers laboratory measurement of the dry static coefficient of friction of shoe sole and heel materials on controlled walking surfaces and under controlled conditions.  This method uses the stationary James Machine.  This method is not used to test floor slip resistance.  The James Machine can still be used to test floor or shoe material, but has limitations of dry-testing only.

ASTM D-2047 

This method is for the laboratory measurement of the static coefficient of friction of polished and floor maintenance coatings. The James Machine apparatus is used and is not suitable for use on wet, rough, or corrugated surfaces.  Because of the leather pad specification and problem with sticktion, this method should not be used for wet testing.  Because most slips and falls occur on contaminated (water) surfaces, the value of measuring dry COF is limited.

ASTM  F-609

This test method covers measurement of the static slip resistance of footwear sole, heel, or related materials on walkway surfaces in the laboratory and in the field.  Note that this method is not intended to test walkway surfaces, but the footwear material.  In addition, this method would generate sticktion problems on wet surfaces, so it is not recommended for evaluating wet slip-resistance.  The instrument is a Horizontal Pull Sled (HPS), a traditional drag-sled method.

ASTM C-1028

This test method covers the measurement of static coefficient of friction of ceramic tile or other surfaces under both wet and dry conditions while utilizing Neolite heel assemblies. This test method can be used in the laboratory or in the field.  This test method uses a large 50 lb. drag-sled that is constructed in accordance with the procedure. The method is subject to sticktion problems on wet surfaces, but is approved for this use. The method understates the slip-resistance when used in wet testing.

ASTM F-462

This consumer safety specification covers the slip resistance of bathtubs and shower structures or combinations, used for bathing or showering.  This consumer safety specification is intended to describe a means to reduce accidents to persons, especially children and the aged, resulting from the use of bathing facilities.  The method uses a Mark I, which are not readily produced.  The method evaluates wet and dry conditions.  The wet condition includes soap-contaminated specifications. 

ASTM F-2048 

This standard addresses the recommended format and content of reports addressing slip resistance evaluations. 

ASTM F-2508

To be meaningful, walkway tribometer results must correlate the slip characteristics of a surface or contaminant, or both, to the actual propensity for human slips. To achieve this goal, walkway tribometer models must be validated against a standard with relevance to human ambulation.  This standard, rather than specifying a method, provides a framework under which tribometers can be validated.  The English XL (F1679) was the first tribometer to be validated under this standard.

ASTM F-2913

This standard addresses the evaluation of a sole / footwear surface against a specific flooring surface.  Various combinations of floor and footwear are possible.  The method utilizes the whole shoe, so it seems to offer a more complete picture than those methods which require sections of the footwear to be tested.

Standards Dealing with Design Requirements:

ASTM F-1637

This practice covers design and construction guidelines and minimum maintenance criteria for new and existing buildings and structures. This practice is intended to provide reasonably safe walking surfaces for pedestrians wearing ordinary footwear. These guidelines may not be adequate for those with certain mobility impairments.

ASTM F-802

This guide is intended to assist in the selection of walkway surfaces where the presence of foreign materials may produce the danger of a slip or a fall.

OSHA Regulations:

OSHA requires the use of slip-resistant surfaces in several locations in their standards.  This term is largely left undefined.

29 CFR 1910.24(f)

"Stair treads." All treads shall be reasonably slip-resistant and the nosings shall be of non-slip finish.  Welded bar grating treads without nosings are acceptable providing the leading edge can be readily identified by personnel descending the stairway and provided the tread is serrated or is of definite non-slip design.  Rise height and tread width shall be uniform throughout any flight of stairs including any foundation structure used as one or more treads of the stairs.

A proposed standard for Subpart D does make a reference to a 0.5 requirement for coefficient of friction.  However, this standard was never promulgated as a final rule.  Some product manufacturers incorrectly point to this proposed standard as a rule to which employers must comply.

The OSHA steel erection standards contained a provision for slip-resistance requirements for painted structural steel upon which ironworkers would walk.  This section of the standard was never enacted and eventually removed from the standard.  This was primarily driven by those in the coating industry whose coatings did not meet the safety specification.  A copy of the requirement which is now defunct is shown below...

29 CFR 1926.754(c)(3)

Slip resistance of skeletal structural steel.

Workers shall not be permitted to walk the top surface of any structural steel member installed after July 18, 2006 that has been coated with paint or similar material unless documentation or certification that the coating has achieved a minimum average slip resistance of .50 when measured with an English XL tribometer or equivalent tester on a wetted surface at a testing laboratory is provided.  Such documentation or certification shall be based on the appropriate ASTM standard test method conducted by a laboratory capable of performing the test.  The results shall be available at the site and to the steel erector.  (Appendix B to this subpart references appropriate ASTM standard test methods that may be used to comply with this paragraph (c)(3)).

During the period when this section was open for comment, the company president, provided comments to OSHA on the reasons to retain the provision in the regulations.  View comments provided by High Safety Consulting Services.