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.”