man with briefcase slipping on wet floor with floor sign

Proper cleaning protocol gains traction in the fight against slip-and-fall injuries

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), slips and falls account for more than 1 million hospital emergency room visits a year — and the number of injuries continues to climb.

“Slips and falls go up every year because our population is aging, and the elderly are the most likely victims of slip-and-fall injuries,” says Russ Kendzior, founder and president of the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI), in Southlake, Texas. “We estimate the problem is going to double — perhaps even triple — within the next 10 to 12 years.”

According to Kendzior, the NFSI is working diligently to advance floor safety standards, and manufacturers of cleaning products and equipment continue to support the institute’s efforts.

“We have a large number of companies that have submitted their products for NFSI certification, and that grows every year,” says Kendzior. “However, the floor covering industry has yet to adopt a uniform safety standard and has opposed the efforts by the NFSI to do such.”

Flawed Floor Standards

According to CPSC, floors and flooring materials contribute to more than 2 million fall injuries each year. To improve slip-resistance, flooring manufacturers adjust the floor’s traction by applying an anti-slip coating to the finished product or mixing an aggregate into the formula during the manufacturing process. However, manufacturers are not required to disclose their products’ coefficient of friction (COF), and there are no mandated floor safety testing methods.

ASTM’s F6 resilient floor covering standards specify and test the physical and mechanical properties of floor coverings prior to installation, but the committee does not have a slip resistance test method. ASTM’s D21 committee covering floor polishes has published D2047, a standard test method for static COF of polish-coated floors. However, Kendzior points out that this method is outdated and imprecise because it tests floor finish under dry conditions, which are not considered hazardous.

“Currently there are no ASTM test standards for measuring COF, leaving the ANSI B101 standards as the benchmark for walkway safety,” he says.

The Tile Council of North America, a trade association for the ceramic tile industry, has issued a standard for measuring the slip resistance of ceramic tile — ANSI A137.1 — but Kendzior points out that this is not a safety standard.

“It’s creating confusion in the industry, because the Council wants you to believe it’s a safety standard when it isn’t,” he says. “It’s a quality control standard for uninstalled ceramic tile.”

The only floor safety standard the NFSI endorses for floor covering manufacturers is ANSI B101.3, which measures the dynamic COF of common hard-surface floor materials.

“We’ve petitioned the CPSC to mandate that all floor covering manufacturers use this test method and uniformly label products with a standard label so that consumers and business owners know how slippery a floor is right on the box,” says Kendzior.

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Steps To Improving Floor Safety