Last month, the National Floor Safety Institute’s (NFSI) slip-resistance testing methods came under fire from a group of industry floor-product manufacturers — members of The Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA).

The CSPA, Washington, a non-profit trade association, issued a retaliatory statement in response to claims made by NFSI, a Southlake, Texas-based non-profit organization that works to prevent slip-and-fall accidents. Members of CSPA’s polishes division — including several floor-care product manufacturers — dispute NFSI’s claims that its slip-resistance testing method is superior to other methods. CSPA also objects to NFSI’s criticism of its endorsed standard, ASTM D-2047, which CSPA adopted in 1970.

The question is, which is better: wet or dry testing for slip resistance? The Universal Walkway Tester (UWT), NFSI’s wet testing method, is an ineffective gauge of slip resistance compared to ASTM D-2047, says Jim Hermann, R&D manager for JohnsonDiversey, Sturdevant, Wis., speaking on behalf of CSPA. The UWT is a robotic machine that tests wet floors, while ASTM D-2047 tests dry floors using a mechanism called the James Machine.

CSPA’s members contend that NFSI’s testing methods lead to unsafe walking surfaces.

“The net effect of the NFSI certification program is reduced pedestrian safety by providing false assurance through flawed testing that wet walking surfaces which should be considered hazardous by pedestrians may no longer be so,” according to CSPA’s statement.

However, Russell Kendzior, executive director of NFSI, believes ASTM D-2047 is an outdated standard that doesn’t address the most common slip-and-fall cause: wet floors.

Slips and falls are a $60-billion-a-year problem, says Kendzior. The magnitude of the problem alone indicates that current testing methods are flawed, he contends.

“Whatever the current standards are, they’re not working, so we did a lot of research and found that the current standard needed some updating. The world is a different place today.”

Kendzior says that because 80 percent of slip-and-fall accidents occur on wet floors, testing should take place under wet conditions. The UWT is also portable — it can be taken to a facility and tested under “real-world” conditions, rather than in a lab in a controlled situation.

Hermann is skeptical about UWT’s effectiveness. In fact, he says under wet conditions, there are no meaningful slip-resistance standards.

“All wet surfaces are deemed to be slippery unless circumstances exist to make them not slippery,” he says.

Kendzior believes that besides being robotic and therefore, in his opinion, more accurate, the UWT offers other advantages over the James Machine. The UWT’s portability is a benefit, and it does not use leather as its test footwear material (leather is no longer a common shoe material, says Kendzior). UWT can be calibrated to other UWTs, whereas various James Machines could produce varied results leading to inconsistent testing results, he adds.

CSPA’s position is that ASTM D-2047 is the best standard available today. CSPA conducted its own tests of the UWT and its accompanying wet slip-resistance standard. According to its release, CSPA tested various surface types, both coated and uncoated. Water and a variety of cleaners and dilutions were used as surface contaminants. The results, according to CSPA, were that almost every scenario passed NFSI’s test — even those that a dry-test method would conclude were unsafe.

Not only do CSPA and NFSI disagree about test methods, both accuse the other of having a hidden agenda. CSPA says NFSI’s mission is money-motivated — to become NFSI-certified, manufacturers must pay to have their products tested and certified. NFSI says CSPA is trying to protect the James Machine and its testing method to shield its members from liability resulting from slip-and-fall accidents.

Kendzior says the UWT has been so well received that production and sales of it have been spun off into another company that will distribute the machine in the United States. He says he will continue to promote NFSI’s mission — reducing the number of slip-and-fall accidents that happen each year.

CSPA’s polishes division’s goals are similar, but the group’s path is quite different.

“The status quo approach (ASTM D-2047) so far has been a very, very good one. It has served the walking public very well. We’ll continue to use it until something better comes along. This particular standard is not that,” says Hermann.

CSPA’s paper documenting the results of its test of the UWT and other slip-resistance test methods is expected to be released in early 2005.

Members of CSPA’s polishes and floor maintenance products division listed in the statement are: Access Business Group, Buckeye International Inc., Chemcor, DuPont, Fuller Brush Co., Hillyard Industries Inc., Honeywell Specialty Materials, Interpolymer Corp., JohnsonDiversey, NCH Corp., OMNOVA, Reckitt Benckiser Inc., Rohm & Haas, Spartan Chemical Co., State Chemical Mfg., Co., and Zep Mfg.




Improper Graffiti Removal Ends in $2.2M Settlement
Nanny Lori Feldt recently received $2.2 million for brain damage resulting from inhaled paint-thinner fumes. Workers used the paint thinner to remove graffiti at the home of her employer, Vogue magazine editor Anna Wintour, after Wintour's home was vandalized by animal-rights activists. According to her lawyer, Feldt went from excellent health and leading an active life to suffering headaches, numbness in her face and hands, short-term memory loss and urinary incontinence.

Ecolab Announces Third Quarter Earnings
Ecolab Professional Products Inc., St. Paul., Minn., a jan/san manufacturer of a variety of dispensers and restroom solutions, recently reported an 11 percent increase in sales for the third quarter. Sales totaled $1.1 billion during that period. The company attributed the increase to continued growth in its domestic and international markets.

LEED-EB Certification No Longer in Pilot Status
USGBC recently released the LEED standards for existing buildings (LEED-EB). The organization stated that the program is no longer in its pilot stage and is “fully balloted” by the USGBC for registered facilities. Click for more information.

G-P Fire in Green Bay
A fire recently erupted at a Georgia-Pacific paper mill in Green Bay, Wis. The manufacturer of jan/san paper products, which has its headquarters in Atlanta, reported that the fire is still under investigation. G-P distributors are not expected to experience delays, according to the company.



Wausau Paper, Mosinee, Wis., a manufacturer of jan/san paper towel and tissue supplies, recently announced that it has acquired Missota Paper LLC, Brainerd, Minn., for $9.6 million. Included in the acquisition is a facility that is capable of producing 170,000 tons of paper annually.

G&K Services Canada Inc., a subsidiary of G&K Services Inc., Minneapolis, a national facility service provider, recently announced the acquisition of Nettoyer Shefford Inc., a uniform manufacturer that currently supplies the cities of Granby and Montreal, Quebec.

Clorox Co., Oakland, Calif., recently announced Henkel KGaA has sold its 29 percent stake in Clorox. Henkel made the sale to free up funds for its $2.84 billion purchase of Dial Corp.


Flu Vaccine Shortage Ratchets Up Need for Cleaning

Many U.S. residents will head into flu season this year without getting their vaccinations, due to shortage that equals close to half the regular annual supply.

President Bush recently urged healthy Americans to forgo their annual vaccinations, so that those who need them most — senior citizens and people with health problems — can be treated.

For those who aren’t protected by a flu vaccination, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Washington, has outlined five “clean health habits” that can aid in avoiding illness. The CDC recommends basic hand washing and cleanliness, something that could be a strong selling point for jan/san distributors who sell restroom soaps, paper products and similar jan/san supplies.

Distributors might think that customers are already well aware of the potential problems a shortage in influenza vaccinations could have, especially for health care facilities. However, a recent survey sponsored by Kimberly-Clark Professional, Roswell, Ga., a manufacturer of jan/san paper products and other cleaning supplies, shows otherwise.

The survey of 1,029 adults, conducted by Opinion Research Corp., revealed that only 25 percent of respondents expressed concern over the shortage.

Although respondents weren’t concerned about the spread of influenza, they did show strong support for precautionary actions in the workplace. The survey found that 96 percent of respondents wash their hands after sneezing or coughing “in order to prevent the spread of cold and flu germs.”

More than half said that hand washing is the best way to prevent the spread of germs; 46 percent said conventional hand washing (with soap and water) works best and 9 percent said that waterless sanitizers are more effective.

Whatever washing methods customers choose, jan/san distributors must keep those products in stock as the public strives to avoid the spread of influenza.

Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary Tommy Thompson announced in late October that an additional 2.6 million doses will be available in early January, and top health officials in the Food and Drug Administration continue to negotiate with vaccine manufacturers from other countries, including Canada.