Over the useful life of a building, the greatest risk to health and safety will be slips, trips, and falls, according to a 2006 study commissioned by the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB).

The National Construction Codes (NCC), formerly known as the Building Code of Australia (BCA), includes specifications and testing for slip-resistant flooring, which were updated in 2013.

An updated handbook for their application is available from Standards Australia. HB 198:2014 Guide to the specification and testing of slip resistance of pedestrian surfaces was released in June of 2014.

According to Carl Strautins, a managing director of Safe Environments Pty Ltd, a multi-specialist consultancy operating in the building, construction, and property management industries, this release offers “guidance on the application of slip resistance Standards, AS 4586—2013 and AS 4663—2013, and commentary on relevant parts of the National Construction Code (NCC).”

The guide covers:

  • AS 4586: Slip resistance classification of new pedestrian surface materials.
  • AS 4663: Slip resistance measurement of existing pedestrian surfaces.
  • Requirements of the new Building Codes.
  • Pedestrian floor surface selection guides.
  • How to design for slopes and ramps.
  • Referenced documents that include other Australian Standards.

“Where the BCA is not applicable, HB 198:2014 also outlines guidance as to what the general consensus is for slip ratings in public buildings,” Strautins wrote.

Also included in HB 198 are slip ratings for pedestrian ramps, stair nosings, and stair landings. Strautins said including those ratings in the guidelines meets the BCA’s deemed-to-satisfy provisions.

Strautins holds a Master of Science degree in Occupational Hygiene Practice from the University of Wollongong and a Master of Occupational Health and Safety Management from University of Technology, Sydney. He is also a Chartered Professional Member of the Safety Institute of Australia (CPMSIA), a Registered Building Consultant with the Master Builders Association, and a member of the Australian Injury Prevention Network.

Writing for Safe Environments, Ryan Vooderhake, a tertiary qualified slip resistance testing consultant, noted that the updated standard has “brought in a few changes that can seem confusing at first, but are in reality not all that different to the previous versions of the slip testing standards.”

The four types of tests for slip resistance are:

  • Dry Floor Friction Slip Resistance Test.
  • Wet Pendulum Slip Resistance Test.
  • Wet Barefoot Ramp Slip Resistance Test.
  • Oil Wet Ramp Slip Resistance Test.

The new standard, Vooderhake wrote, now uses a rating system from P0 to P5.

“The main difference between this and the old 2004 Australian standard is just the name of the classification, and one extra classification has been added to differentiate between results in the old ‘Z’ classification,” he said.

Vooderhake recommends slip testing be done on previously tested surfaces to learn if the changes to the standard change the reported result.

“It may be that slip testing to the new standard may highlight a potentially hazardous surface that requires remediation thereby reducing possible injury,” he wrote.

According to Vooderhake, the changes to the standard tend to affect surfaces such as acid etched surfaces and honed stone, which may “rely on porosity and/or a small amount of roughness of the surface more.”

  • Timely update – these kind of common workplace injuries are grossly underestimated.

  • While Ryan Vooderhake may suggest the main difference between this and the old 2004 Australian standard is just the name change of the classification, the article fails to inform that the pendulum testing method has also been adjusted by the introduction of a filament to the testing rubber. This adjustment may result in previously compliant flooring surfaces possibly not achieving the same slip resistance result under the previous standard.
    Specifiers should be consulting flooring manufacturers to ensure their flooring options are not only compliant to the new standard but that the floor will maintain the required slip resistance for the life of the floor to mitigate the risk to all parties.

    • Hi Eric,
      Ryan Voorderhake informs the reader about the changes to the slider preparation in the new standard, unfortunately this isn't outlined by the article here by Steve Hansen.

      I agree with you Eric that the slip resistance can change between the two standards due to the lapping film preparation. The Australian Building Codes however will allow previous tests to the 2004 version that have been tested till May 2014
      King regards
      Carl Strautins

  • Uno momento! Your article implies a link between slip trip falls in buildings and the building per say that was not established in the literature quoted. 'The greatest risk to health and safety will be slips, trips, and falls'. The report may have said this but the report cites statistics based on hospital outpatient interviews, not about falls investigations. A causal link between the outpatient presentations and buildings has not been established and its less than mediocre science to extrapolate data in this way. Yes sure, materials get slippery but if for example your grandmother slips and falls do you blame the floor and mandate that all floors have sandpaper qualities. No, but this is where we are at with BCA 2014.

Lovegrove Solicitors – 300 x 250 (expires Dec 31 2017)