The slippery case of slip resistance

A graph showing slip resistance gradings.Richard Bowman’s recent publication challenges conventional methods of testing tiles for slip resistance. Testing is mostly done in laboratories and the results are used for setting Standards for slip resistance.

In real environments, speed of walking, inclines, changes in weather, and cleaning materials all have an effect on the slip resistance of tiled surfaces. Bowman argues that these are not always taken into consideration. While the paper is very technical, it is essential reading for anyone involved in access compliance and all round safety for everyone.

The title of his paper is, Can we develop slip resistance metrics that ensure appropriate tile selection?  Read to the end to see what he has to say about two popular Australian access guides that cover slip resistance.

Richard Bowman is a ceramic engineer, who spent 30 years working as a principal research scientist at CSIRO – Australia’s national scientific research organisation. Richard also presented a paper at the 2014 Australian Universal Design Conference. A follow up paper was presented at the Slips, Trips and Falls Conference in Madrid, 2020.

Extract from Abstract:

This paper reviews several aspects of the state of the art of slip resistance testing in the context of trying to identify an ISO testing procedure that would provide suitable metrics for optimising appropriate tile selection. While existing test methods might be represented as being fit for purpose, there are several areas of test protocols that could and should be significantly improved. …While the existing paradigm of solely assessing the ex-factory slip resistance of tiles is flawed and contrary to sensible regulatory measures, new data is required to establish credible evidence-based practicable standards.


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