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Technical Talk

In this issue, we asked Paul Rogers, Forbo Technical Specification Manager to answer some frequently asked questions about various standards and testing methodologies used to categorise safety vinyl floor coverings.

Paul Rogers

What different test methods are used to assess slip resistance?

A number of different methods are in use
around the world, but here in the UK, the HSE
recommends that the Pendulum Test is used
to determine the co-efficient of friction of a
floor surface that can then be converted to
a slip potential classification. This test is the
subject of BS 7976: Parts 1-3, 2002 +A1:2013.
The Pendulum has a swinging arm with a
foot at the end which houses a rubber pad
(slider). As the rubber slider contacts the
material being tested at the bottom of its arc,
the Pendulum arm decelerates. The level of
deceleration is related to the slip resistance of
the tested surface.

So, where do the R ratings come from?

R ratings are the results obtained from
ramp testing carried out in accordance with
DIN51130. Here, a person (in a safety harness,
wearing cleated boots) walks forwards and
backwards over an angled ramp covered
with the flooring being tested. The surface is
contaminated with motor oil. The incline of
the ramp is gradually increased until the tester
slips or feels unsafe and the angle of the ramp
at that point determines the R rating.

Ramp testing cannot be carried out on an
installed floor so does not consider any
changes in slip resistant properties either
after installation or over time. Confusion often
occurs as a result of the scale that starts at R9.
In addition, the ranges of angles on which the
R values are based are quite wide in terms of
slip resistance. It should not be assumed that
all R10 rated floor coverings offer a wet PTV of
36 or higher.

Safety vinyl key certification

What about products for wet barefoot areas?

When assessing barefoot slip distance, the
PTV is measured using a softer rubber slider
(slider 55) which more closely simulates the
interaction of a bare foot with the floor surface.
For areas which are continuously wet, and
where users are likely to be barefoot for some
or most of the time, a wet PTV of 36 or higher
is required when tested with slider 55. Surestep
Laguna, Star Barefoot and Safestep Aqua offer a
PTV of ≥36 when tested with slider 55 making
them suitable for barefoot usage areas.
A variation of the ramp test is also used to
assess barefoot slip resistance (DIN51097). This
test is similar to DIN51130, but the tester is
barefoot and the lubricant is a water and soap solution. This test therefore is more closely
related to real life. The results are classified A to
C. It is important to note that class C offers the
highest level of slip performance.
Please visit the downloads section of the website for the
electronic version of the table to the right

Safety vinyl typical areas of use