What tests are available for exisiting concrete surfaces to measure slip resistance according to OSHA standards?

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Slip Meter

The ASTM test for slip resistance that is used for flooring is not just for epoxy flooring but also for all painted concrete floors, whether it’s an epoxy concrete floor paint or a cementitious urethane resurfacer.

This test is not just used on concrete flooring but all types of flooring such as tile or wood. Uncoated concrete floors can be tested as well but most often the concrete has some kind of applied concrete flooring paint, stained concrete, painted concrete flooring, or epoxy concrete floor paint.

The American Slip Meter, ASM 825, is an approved meter for measuring slip resistance. That company and that brand is the one that’s really recognized as the leader in the industry.

Basically, the meter has a built-in scale and on the bottom of the meter are little feet made of either leather or rubber.

Testing Conditions

Before you begin testing the floor, it must be clean and completely dry. There are no tests for dirty, wet floors. Everything is a blend of cleanability versus texture.

You can take a floor that has more texture, and it’ll be more slippery than a smooth floor if it’s not maintained properly.

If you are considering painting concrete floor areas in your facility whether it be faux painting concrete floor sections, staining concrete floor sections, painting indoor concrete floor areas or even painting outdoor concrete floor areas, the testing method remains the same.

All testing should be done before the painted concrete floor application is started. The reason for testing prior to applying concrete floor finishes, is to make sure that you choose the right amount of slip resistance needed in that environment.

Adding Aggregate

If you have a painted concrete floor surface and need to enhance the slip resistance to meet OSHA standards, you don’t have to know the type of floor coating that is currently on the floor.

The amount and type of aggregate added to any concrete floor paint for slip resistance dictates the coefficient of friction.

A quality installer will be able to apply the right amount to the coating based on his experience in concrete floor painting techniques combined with the product manufacturer’s recommendations.

Testing Method

The standard way of checking for slip resistance is picking a spot on the floor and doing it in each direction. You go North once, South once, East once, and West once in the same spot.

Take those four numbers and average them out to get the reading for that spot.

Afterwards you do multiple spots over an area. It is recommended to do something along the lines of three or four readings for the first thousand square feet and then one reading for every thousand square feet after that.

Then, you average that for an overall reading for the entire floor.

Testing Environment

So, it really all depends on the environment. For instance, a firehouse Chief wanted his floor to be perfectly smooth, without any texture in order to easily clean it.

But, having a smooth floor in this environment is not appropriate and is in violation of OSHA standards for a public use building..

…Do you always use that meter when you’re doing firehouses?

The American Slip Meter test is used mostly after a floor coating is installed in situations where there is a question about slip resistance outcome.

You use it as a way to check a floor to determine if it’s necessary to enhance the floor coating.  Or it could be a problem with the floor cleaning aftercare.

Case History

A pool facility comes to mind…the facility switched from indoor-outdoor carpeting throughout the entire place including the locker rooms to a non-slip floor coating surface.

When the floor coating was installed, they didn’t cut extra drains in and when the floor became wet in one particular spot, people were slipping.

The American Slip Meter test was used after cleaning the area and the readings were exactly where they should be for slip resistance.

It all came down to the fact that, for years, they had carpeting down, so they never had to clean the floors. Now all of a sudden, you walk into the bathroom, there’s a soap dispenser that’s leaking all over the floor.

They clean this area, but there’s no drains. So they end up with soap residue that dries onto the floor.

All it takes is your wet foot from the pool – it turns the solid soap into liquid again, and it’s skating rink time.

The test shows that when the floor is clean, the reading shows what they asked for. If you make the floor surface any rougher, then you really can’t clean it.

Now you’re going to have a floor that holds bacteria even more, because it’s rougher, and now the life of the floor’s going to be reduced.

Knowing Your Customers Needs

Doing things like guaranteeing texture and having people sign off on the texture that they want and similar details are the things that lower quality installers don’t do. That’s where they always end up getting in trouble.

Because these are hand applied coatings you have to talk to the customer, you have to work through them, what they need, and get them to feel and touch something and sign off on it and then follow through from there.

Also, if you want to go a step further, make sure that the men on the actual job know and hear how you actually apply your one top coat or two top coats.

Do you sand in between coats? Do you sand before the texture goes on? Do you add a little extra aluminum oxide here? All those things have to be communicated.

It separates the men from the boys in the flooring business, that’s for sure.

Related Article – When should I use a Taber abrader test to guide selection of epoxy floor coverings?