Slip Resistance in Sport and Leisure Centres
By Peter Mills
Claims for injuries as a result of slipping in sport and leisure facilities have been a constant and seemingly growing area of litigation. In some cases action by enforcement authorities has also resulted from near misses following slips or injuries due to persons slipping. Key areas include:
QLM have had considerable experience of advising clients in this area and also dealing with inconsistent application of guidance by the claimants' solicitors or in some cases the enforcement authority. Clarification on standards of acceptability and appropriate measurements is important, particularly with some tests being unreliable in all conditions. This has resulted in the past in a grey area in sport and recreation. However HSE has done a lot of work in recent years and further reading is available on the HSE website (see useful links below).
It is important to understand the approach of enforcement authorities. Generally the HSE will rely primarily on the pendulum test and the work of Health and Safety Laboratory Service (HSL).
The Pendulum Test (PTV)
The pendulum test was specifically developed in the UK by the Transport, Road and Research Laboratory to provide highway engineers with a routine method of checking the resistance of wet road surfaces to skidding. It is the most commonly used tool by the HSE's appointed laboratory and it measures Coefficient of Friction (COF). Pendulum tests brings up test results fall into three broad categories. See below.
High slip potential 0-24
Moderate slip potential 25-35
Low slip potential 36+
PTV= Pendulum Test Value
The Pendulum Test whilst relied upon by HSE can give misleading results on tiles with profiled surfaces. Measurements can be disrupted by the size of the raised profile area.
Surface Roughness (Rz)
Surface micro roughness gives an indication of slipperiness in water contaminated conditions by simply measuring the surface roughness of flooring materials when dry and clean. The roughness test can also be used to monitor changes in floor surface characteristics due to wear. Rz is the measure of total surface roughness calculated as the mean of several measurements. Research has shown that the Rz roughness parameter gives a good indication of floor slipperiness in water contaminated conditions. Whilst surface roughness tests can be used to supplement pendulum data tests, surface roughness results give a quick indication for a leisure centre operator of the current slipperiness of a floor surface. It therefore provides an opportunity to quantitatively measure the floor slipperiness during the risk assessment process. The surface roughness readings are measured as follows:
Rz surface roughness
Below 10 µm High slip potential
10-20 µm Moderate slip potential
20 + µm Low slip potential
It will be expected that a floor for example which is a wet floor area in the changing room must have a µm /Rz value of greater than 20. This is reinforced by the HSE chart below;
Minimum Roughness (Rz) Contaminant Possible Examples
20 µm Clean water, coffee, soft drinks Changing rooms, sports halls, pool surrounds, bars.
45 µm Soap solution, milk Heavily used shower with significant soap residue
60 µm Cooking stock Kitchens
70 µm Motor oil, olive oil Workshop
Above 70 µm Gear oil, margarine
Slip Assessment Tool (SAT)
HSE and HSL have produced a PC-based software package to assess the slip potential presented by level pedestrian walkway surfaces. This is available free on-line at the HSE web site. The SAT prompts the user to collect surface microroughness data from the test area, using a hand-held meter. The SAT supplements the surface microroughness data (Rz) with other relevant information from the pedestrian slip potential model. This includes the causes of floor surface contamination, the regimes used to clean the floor surface (both in terms of their effectiveness and frequency), the footwear types worn in the area, along with associated human factors and environmental factors. On completion, a slip risk classification is supplied to the user; this gives an indication of the potential for a slip. SAT is designed to assist in the decision-making process when considering the risk of slipping in a defined area, and can be used interactively to show the influence of different control measures. However, it should not be relied upon exclusively when considering the performance of a type of flooring; in this instance a suitable COF test should be used.
The current process for assessing the risk of slipping in most sport and leisure centres is qualitative and looks at trends of accidents and near misses and to visually examine the floor surface. Measuring surface microroughness provides quantifiable support of the risk assessment and should be considered as a means of collecting reliable data to assist with planning and risk management. Whilst precision on some floors (e.g. some small profile tiles) is not always achievable, the overall readings do give a useful guide in the risk assessment process.
Producing quantitative data immediately shows the organisation has been proactive in assessing the risk. It also means that a test done by an external specialist on behalf of a claimant should not provide any surprises. Key benefits include;
QLM Risk Assessment Service
QLM are now able to assist operators in conducting quantitative risk assessments of the slip resistance of floor surfaces. We will measure slip resistance (Rz) of appropriate floors. We use a surface roughness test to give an assessment of surface roughness and produce a report on the degree of risk using the HSE Slip Assessment Tool or a similar template. The methodology is as follows:
1. Area to be tested is prepared by the client and spot areas are cleaned by the assessor as necessary.
2. Each individual floor area requires 10 Rz readings to be taken by the assessor.
3. Other environmental factors are identified and recorded, e.g. footwear, lighting, obstructions.
4. Data is entered onto the HSE Slip Assessment Tool or separate risk assessment report.
5. Report is printed/emailed to client whilst on site.
Option One- QLM conduct the test
QLM conducts this service from around £50* per floor plus VAT.
* Testing of a floor surface and production of a report can be conducted for as little as £50+vat where the consultant is already on site. Where this is not possible a minimum of 6 floor surfaces are to be tested.
Option Two- Client rents the slip resistance meter
The meter is able to hire in approved circumstances to clients for £100+vat per week. This is a useful option if the floors to be tested are identified in advance and the assessor can conduct an intensive programme of tests.
The equipment is straightforward to use and to record the data on to the slip assessment record.
HSE website address;