Health & Safety

OH&S Flooring Requirements – Health and Safety Flooring

OH&S requirements with AQIS Food Safe, TGA, and HACCP particularly within the Food Processing Industry.

So what is Slip Resistance?

Slip resistance is the frictional force opposing movement of an object across a surface, usually with reference to the sole or heel of a shoe on the floor.

What is Coefficient of friction (COF)?

Coefficient of friction is the ration of the tangential force required to move a body across a horizontal surface to the vertical load imposed on the surface by the body.

What is Dynamic Coefficient of friction (COF)?

Dynamic coefficient of friction is based on the force required to maintain movement at a constant speed.

Factors Associated With Slip Resistance?

A surface is considered to be slip resistive if there is enough friction to enable a person to walk across that surface without an unreasonable risk of slipping. Slip resistance is affected primarily by;

1. Floor material and finish,
2. Pedestrian shoe sole profile and material,
3. Surface contaminants; including any substance, liquid or solid that is foreign to the floor surface
4. Pedestrian gait dynamics.

Obviously how a person walks is beyond the control of the facility owner and operator, and sometimes shoe characteristics are relatively uncontrollable, but the floor selection, construction and maintenance are almost always controllable and therefore provide the greatest opportunities for responsible parties to affect slip resistance.

Why Do You Need Slip Resistance Testing Building Code of Australia Requirements?

Many design architects now look for specialized materials that reduce the risk of slips, trips and falls. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of construction that takes place with little thought put into pedestrian safety issues.

The Building Code of Australia in 1996 (BCA96) addressed this issue with the inclusion of the following functional statement under the Safety from Falling section; “A building is to provide safe access for people to the services and facilities within”. In New South Wales, the acceptable construction practice provisions include the added variation “The floor surface of a ramp must have a non-slip finish” and “Treads must have a non-slip resistance testing to determine whether “safe access” has been provided to the public.

Occupational Health & Safety Requirements

The Occupational Health and Safety Act 1983 No 20 (as in force at 20 January 1999) enforces that “Each person who has, to any extent, control of non-domestic premises shall ensure that the premises, the means of access thereto or egress therefrom, are or is safe and without risks to health”. In general, most slip and fall accidents seem to occur when the surface has been contaminated. Risk assessments typically identify the following as examples of slip hazards: spillage of (or the presence of) liquid and solid substances; change from wet to dry; floor rubbish; unsuitable footwear; slopes and changes of level and poor lighting.

More than half of these hazards are related to cleaning and maintenance practices, where warning of risks can be provided using signs and provision for adequate lighting and elimination of obstructions can be carried out.

The Cost of Liability

Fall injuries are the leading cause of liability loss claims and rank as the second leading cause of accidental deaths for 45-75 year-olds. Accidental falls re estimated to cost Australia at least $3 billion a year, as a result scientific institutions have recognized that slip and falls are a significant problem. Whether it is due to a trip or a slip, there are methods and means to reduce the occurrence of falls.

The largest settlement to date in Australia for a single slip and fall accident is believed to be $2.75 million, therefore slip resistance testing should be considered an important step in minimising exposure to costly litigation.