Instead of being at the discretion of an OSHA inspector and his or her definition of slip resistance, the new ruling will have a definition and a way to test floors, says Brent Johnson, chief auditor with Traction Auditing LLC, Southlake, Texas. 
The new OSHA ruling will draw from two ANSI standards — ANSI b 101.1, which defines the wet static coefficient of friction for the floor, and ANSI b 101.3, which rates the wet dynamic coefficient of friction for the floor — to define what constitutes a high-traction floor. 
Walkway slip resistance under these ANSI standards can be measured with a tribometer and categorized into one of three traction ranges: high, moderate or low. Floors with a high traction rating present a low slip and fall risk, says Johnson, while those with moderate and low traction present an elevated risk for slips and falls. 
“High traction is defined as 0.6 or greater on the wet static coefficient of friction and 0.2 or better on the wet dynamic coefficient of friction,” says Johnson. “These rulings define and lay out how to test and what the traction ratings are. Companies that want to tolerate the risk can have moderate traction floors; it doesn’t mean someone will instantly slip. But if you want the highest compliance, you’re going to go with a high-traction floor.”
If a company opts to go with moderate traction flooring, they open themselves up to defiance and litigation under the new ruling, says Johnson. 
“It’s all about risk mitigation. The higher the traction rating of the floor, the less risk there is of someone slipping,” he adds. 
Mitigating risk is worthy of consideration. Slips and falls cause 15 percent of all accidental deaths and account for the majority of industry accidents, according to OSHA. In addition, they are the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims, according to the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI).
NFSI also reports on its website that:
  • 22 percent of slip/fall incidents resulted in more than 31 days away from work (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).
  • Compensation and medical costs associated with employee slip/fall accidents are approximately $70 billion annually (National Safety Council Injury Facts 2003 edition).
  • 85 percent of worker’s compensation claims are attributed to employees slipping on slick floors (Industrial Safety & Occupational Health Markets 5th edition).

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