Slip testing explained, by Karndean Designflooring


Karndean Designflooring is a leading supplier of commercial flooring, and here explains the slip testing standards that designers must bear in mind when specifying flooring in public areas – Pendulum testing and Ramp testing.

In 2009, seven million people were absent from work because of slips and trips and according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), flooring is one of three controllable causes of these types of incidents.

Statistics like these not only emphasise the need for flooring solutions that are thoroughly slip tested and accredited, but they also highlight the importance of developing a method of slip testing that is accepted on a global scale.

Mike Cheetham, Global Technical Director for Karndean International explores the two most common methods of slip testing and explains how the UK flooring industry would benefit from one worldwide technique.

“There are two commonly accepted forms of slip testing. Karndean use both methods to ensure that that the slip accreditation that accompanies each luxury design product is simple to understand and can be easily compared both here in the UK as well as in Europe and the USA.”

Pendulum Testing
The pendulum test is the method of testing preferred by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for the assessment of floor slipperiness in dry and contaminated conditions.

The test uses a mechanical simulator to recreate the action of a person slipping. The imitation heel replicates a standard rubber shoe sole and when swung across the test surface, gives a measurable skid distance, showing how slippery the flooring is.

Accreditation is given according to how far the swinging ‘foot’ skids and each floor covering is awarded a Pendulum Test Value (PVT).

“PVT ratings range from zero to 36+ and equate to a high, moderate or low slip risk,” explains Mike. The following table shows how a PTV relates to the chance of slipping as a ratio to 1.

Risk, in 1: PTV Slip Potential
1,000,000 36+ Low
100,000 34 Moderate
10,000 29 Moderate
200 27 Moderate
20 24 High
2 19 High

Ramp Testing
Ramp testing is widely accepted in Continental Europe and in the UK. It uses human test participants to demonstrate slip potential. The flooring is secured to a hinged ramp, which is then raised slowly through 29 degrees until the participant slips off. A rating is awarded according to the angle the ramp reached before the tester slipped.

Mike continues: “Ratings range from R9 to R13. R9 is the first rating meaning the subject slipped when the ramp was between six and ten degrees and R13 is the highest rating with the ramp reaching 35 degrees with no slippage at all.

“In the USA the ramp test is called the ‘friction test’ and in Europe it is known as ‘DIN 51130’ or the ‘DIN test’.”

To give a comprehensive indication of how non-slip a new material is, the ramp test process is conducted when the flooring sample is both dry and wet. Using both results, specifiers and contractors can make an informed decision on which product suits the project they are working on.

Why should there be just one method of slip testing?
With different slip testing techniques being used globally, comparing materials and selecting the right flooring solution for the job can be tricky, resulting in lost international sales opportunities and limited company expansion.

Having one universally accepted slip testing technique would simplify the comparison and product selection process, therefore supporting specifiers and contractors who want to be sure that the flooring that they are installing is fit for purpose.

Mike said: “Currently, the only way for manufacturers to be certain that their flooring solutions are accredited on a global level is to use both the ramp and pendulum methods of slip testing.

“Karndean understands the importance of choosing a floor covering that will provide the slip resistance levels needed for each individual project and that’s why it uses both methods to accredit all of its flooring. This not only makes international product comparison hassle free but also makes product selection easier for specifiers and contractors.

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