Why Should you Consider Independent Testing?

Any surface on which persons will walk is a potential workers' compensation claim or a liability suit.  If you are responsible for facility walking surfaces, it is important that you evaluate, select and maintain surfaces to reduce the potential for slip and fall.

There are several components to providing a safe walking surface:

The Manufactured Surface:

Independent testing will assure that the basic flooring product or treatment that is produced will meet the slip-resistance standards that are recognized.  It is especially important that flooring manufacturers have validated testing done on their products, both with wet and dry methods.  Many manufacturers are still using drag-sled testing methods that are subject to sticktion in wet testing.

The Maintenance of the Surface:

How a surface is installed, cleaned and treated can affect slip-resistance.   Build-ups of oily residues or other substances can affect how a surface will perform.  Certain strippers and cleaners can affect slip-resistance.  Facilities that have potential exposures due to the nature of operations, may want to test floor surfaces to determine if the manufactured surface has been affected by maintenance practices.  Producers of cleaners and floor treatments also should have slip-resistance tests performed to demonstrate the impact their product on slip-resistance.  If a facility owner has a slip and fall liability claim and the manufactured surface meets the slip-resistance criteria, then the liability will rest with the facility owner regarding the maintenance of the surface and possibly with the floor cleaner/treatment manufacturer where their product was used.

The Installation of the Surface:

Installers who provide flooring surface installation may wish to reduce their liability by confirming that the installation meets the slip-resistance requirements as designed by the manufacturer.  This is more important in installations that have variability potential in the installation process such as a liquid epoxy floor system.

External Factors:

Prevention of slip and fall events does not stop with the testing of a surface.  The facility owner must properly care for and maintain the surface.  Proper drainage, proper matting, visual warning cues, walk area monitoring and housekeeping, railing systems, protection from impalement, and similar controls must be considered.  Consideration must also be given to the exposed population.  The standard of performance for a nursing facility versus a public facility or a workplace will differ as the population differs in their potential for injury and likelihood of falling.  Fall prevention incorporates many different elements, and High EH&S Consulting can assist in reviewing all of these elements to help reduce the risk of falling within your facility.

In many situations, the variable in shoe design and materials cannot be controlled by a facility owner; therefore, a focus on fall prevention from a facility perspective must be on the floor surface and other aspects within the facility owner's control.

Independent Testing in a Legal Setting:

Independent testing prior to a legal action will help an organization to establish their potential liability and more likely, their basis for a defense of such a claim.  In-house testing will have limited value in a legal context, as independence is not maintained.  In addition, by using an independent testing laboratory, the qualifications of the researcher will help to support the validity of the test results in a legal environment.  Failure to meet a recognized standard can be the basis for a liability lawsuit.  Slip and fall accidents can involve serious injuries and even death. If the surface you manufacture, install, or maintain does not meet the requirements and/or is tested with an invalid test method, liability potential increases.

The Process:

Samples are received or applied according to manufacturers' requirements. A final report indicating the results of the test, the methods used, parameters of the test (calibration, etc.), photographic documentation and a discussion of the applicable requirements for slip-resistance is included.  All tests and reports are conducted and prepared by a certified XL tribometrist.