With multiple floor testing standards available, the confusion about which one facility cleaning managers should use is understandable. As with any national consensus standard, they must be read and understood in order to apply the correct test method to each individual situation. For each standard, the scope, purpose and application must be taken into consideration to make the correct choice.

In June 2006, the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI) was designated a Standards Developing Organization for the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to develop standards and safety requirements for the prevention of slips, trips and falls under the direction of the NFSI B101 Main Standards Committee. In January 2020, the NFSI resigned from ANSI and was honored to be invited to join the Society for Standards Professionals (SES), making it an equal to ANSI in the standards developing industry.

That was also when the NFSI B101.1-2020 Testing Method for Measuring Wet SCOF of Common Hard-Surface Materials standard was released. This test method specifies the procedures and devices used for both laboratory and field testing, and measures the wet SCOF of common hard-surface floor materials. This standardized floor surface test method is a measurement procedure that provides traction ranges that are associated with SCOF measurements, and addresses common hard-surfaced flooring materials such as ceramic tile, vinyl floor coverings, wood laminates and polished concrete, as well as coatings, polishes, etc.

Also in January 2020, the NFSI approved the companion standard, NFSI B101.3-2020 Test Method for Measuring Wet DCOF of Common Hard-Surface Floor Materials. This test method outlines the procedures and devices used for both laboratory and field testing of hard surface floor materials to measure the wet DCOF, and define traction ranges with these measurements. This standard also addresses flooring materials such as ceramic tile, vinyl floor coverings and wood laminates, etc., in both public and private facilities.

Both of these national floor safety standards — and the traction ranges they outline — are based on extensive research done in the United States and Europe in the science of slip-and-fall prevention.

In 2012, the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) discontinued the C1028 test method and re-released the ANSI A137.1 standard specifications for ceramic tile. Contained within this standard was a change in the way the coefficient of friction of tile surfaces were measured. It included the DCOF AcuTest method to measure the quality control of uninstalled ceramic tile, per the scope and purpose of the standard. Also stated in this standard was the fact that it is not a safety standard, causing extreme confusion to those who intended to use it for floor safety.

In an attempt to alleviate this confusion, the TCNA added the ANSI/TCNA A326.3 standard. This outlines a testing methodology for floors, but the results are a pass/fail and pertain only to floors intended to be walked on when wet. Like A137.1, it is not a safety standard, making it inappropriate for use to test walkways for safety.

So, which walkway testing standard should be used and why should floors be tested when there are countless people wearing various types of shoes on floors every day? Only testing standards that are designated as “safety testing standards” should be used.

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