Useful information for the floor safety professional

Some of the verbiage used when discussing slips, trips and falls includes:

  • Asperities: Raised edges or abrasives on a walking surface that help make it safer to walk on. Often, asperities are applied to a floor surface, such as adding sand to a slippery surface, to give more traction.
  • Coefficient of friction: This phrase, often abbreviated as COF, refers to the amount of friction on a dry surface when tested with a slip meter. Slip resistance, a related term, is used when referring to the amount of traction on a floor or on shoes. Nano-Grip technicians use a digital device called a slip meter which measures the coefficiency of floors friction before and then after treatment.
  • Contributing factors: Frequently used when describing slip-and-fall accidents or related legal issues, this term simply means any conditions that may have affected or contributed to a potential slip, trip or fall.
  • Human factors: Related to contributing factors, human factors are those that relate to individuals’ differing physical capabilities. For instance, an elderly person slips on a floor that is frequently walked on by younger people who do not slip on the same floor. Younger people typically have greater agility and faster reactions than an older person; the older person slipped due to their age — a human factor.
  • Level changes: This could refer to the fact that two adjoining floor surfaces are not flush with one another or to floor height changes of three or fewer steps. Stairs, another term, are a series of steps — normally more than three — from one level to another.
  • Polymerization: Often associated with foodservice floors, polymerization refers to the buildup of greases and soils that, if not properly removed, makes a walking surface slippery. The term has other meanings and is also used when discussing the chemicals and chemical processes in producing floor finish.
  • Riser: The riser is the vertical part of a stair or step; a tread is the horizontal part of a step.
  • Slope: Slope refers to an inclined walking surface and is calculated mathematically. For instance, a 1.20 slope would mean that, for every foot of rise on a floor, a walker travels a distance of 20 feet.
  • Surface changes: This refers to an immediatetransition from one type of flooring material to another, such as from walking on carpet to walking on a hard surface floor. This is related to surface composition, which describes the type of material that makes up a floor surface.
  • Surface conditions: This phrase refers to a floor’s condition at a specific time, such as wet, dry, slippery or tacky — an important factor in slip-and-fall accidents.
  • Unusual features: An unusual feature is anything out of the ordinary that might have contributed to a floor-related accident.
  • Visibility: This term refers to the relative ability to view one’s surroundings, especially where someone is walking.

As you can see from the above listed information, there are many components which can go into the evaluation of a floors potential to cause a slip and fall event. Some of the factors listed can not be easily remedied, but others such as poor lighting, clutter, and certainly slippery floors can and should be rectified. In fact, failure to do so can lead to exposure to legal action in the event of an injury. An evaluation of the floors coefficient of friction by a Nano-Grip  technician is the first step to preventing costly lawsuits.


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