Critical information about slip resistance is missing or unsubstantiated in many flooring, occupational footwear and floor coatings products, a new British safety study warns.
“The information provided by footwear and flooring manufacturers [about slip resistance] was not satisfactory,” concludes Assessment of Slips Safety Information / Literature Provided by Flooring and Footwear suppliers, a report by Britain’s Health & Safety Laboratory for the country’s Health & Safety Executive.
“Many footwear manufacturers made vague claims suggesting slip resistance and did not provide supporting data. Many flooring manufacturers avoid making reference to slip resistance altogether, and information was hard to find.”
The report focused on slip-resistance data and claims involving more than 1,300 footwear styles and 24 types of flooring materials, including coatings.
“Nearly 11,000 workers suffered serious injury as a result of a slip or trip in 2007,” the report notes. “A key element of HSE’s work to reduce slips and trips is to raise awareness of how slip risks can be controlled through the use of suitable flooring and footwear.”
The goal of the research was to:
• Determine what percentage of suppliers and manufacturers supply slip resistance data for their products.
• Determine what test methods were being used to support the data.
• Evaluate the quality of the data being supplied.
“A review of promotional and technical literature provided by footwear and flooring manufacturers showed that improvements to the information could be made to help procurers select a product that will work well in their work environment,” the researchers said.
The researchers examined 67 suppliers of 24 types of flooring materials, including about 25 coatings products by six suppliers.
About two-thirds of the coatings were found to lack slip-resistance information. About 5 percent claimed slip-resistance, but offered no supporting data, while just over 20 percent offered slip-resistance data but made no claims.
“It was apparent that many suppliers did not consider slip resistance to be a selling point and did not place significant emphasis on it,” the researchers said. “…Footwear and flooring suppliers should be influenced to place more emphasis on the slip resistance of their products, and to use more standardized ways of assessing slip resistance; this would allow customers to make comparisons and help them to select the most appropriate product for their needs.”
They added: “If the number of slip and trip accidents in workplace areas is to be reduced, then employers seeking to procure new flooring and footwear must be supplied with clear and helpful information that will enable them to source products which are suitable for their work environment.”
The full report is at http://www.hse.gov.uk/research/rrpdf/rr747.pdf.