Pendulum slip test (slip safety survey)
Did you know you can scientifically measure the slip resistance of floors?
Well, now you do! The pendulum test allows the scientific, UK legally compliant measurement of the slip resistance of a floor surface.
What is the pendulum test?
The pendulum test is the gold standard for slip testing in the UK. It is used by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in enforcement and prosecution – so if you end up in court it will be pendulum data presented against you. It is also used by the UK Slip Resistance Group (who produce the UK Slip Resistance Group Guidelines which govern the use of the pendulum and the interpretation of its results).
The pendulum is designed to mimic the interaction between a person’s heel (whether barefoot or wearing a shoe) and a floor. It measures the amount of friction produced in this interaction.
By standardising the heel part of the equation, the pendulum test data solely quantifies the slip resistance provided by the floor surface.
The test can be used both in laboratory settings but also, importantly, in the field on real-life floors. So you can test both a brand new floor surface ex-factory, the same surface before it is opened to foot traffic, and the same surface in-use after any interval of time.
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What is the value of having a pendulum test?
“What gets measured gets managed”
If you haven’t measured the slip resistance of your floors recently, how can you effectively manage the risk of slips in your business?
By undertaking regular testing, you can:
How does it work?
A spring-loaded foot is fitted with a standardised rubber (one to mimic a bare foot – 55 slider; the other to mimic a shod foot – 96 slider). The foot is held at horizontal and then released down, where it strikes the floor between a predetermined distance and swings through (like a pendulum – hence the name).
As the foot swings, it pushes a pointer to a gauge.
What is the output of the test? What are the pendulum ratings?
The numbers on the gauge represent the Pendulum Test Value (PTV). This is 100x the co-efficient of friction (therefore a PTV of 20 is recording a co-efficient of friction of 0.2).
Dry and wet readings are taken and the results interpreted in the exact same way, though often there can be a significant different in PTV between dry and wet conditions.
HSE gives three categories of risk for PTV scores:
What does Pendulum Test Value mean in terms of accident risk?
You can also correlate PTV to accident risk exposure:
|PTV||Accident risk exposure|
|19||1 in 2|
|24||1 in 20|
|27||1 in 200|
|29||1 in 10,000|
|34||1 in 100,000|
|36||1 in 1,000,000|
You will note that the accident risk decreases exponentially as the PTV increases.
So, if I have a PTV of under 25 does that mean everyone will slip and fall?
No. We can all walk on floors that are very slippery indeed without falling over, but to do so we self-address.
Essentially, if you have a floor with a wet PTV of 24 then you are relying on 1 in 20 people walking over that floor to do something in order not to slip over.
Whereas if you have a floor with a wet PTV of 36, you only require 1 in 1,000,000 people to self-address to prevent a slip.
Which would you prefer? But of course, if you don’t test, then you can never know.
What laws or regulations govern the use of the pendulum?
BS7976 and the UK Slip Resistance Guidelines state how the test should be conducted.
There is myriad case law regarding the interpretation of the results.
Unfortunately, there is no pass/fail mark. It would be better for clarity's sake if there were!
What is a good or bad pendulum score?
In very simple terms, the higher the PTV the better.
However, what is required should be determined by the intended end use of the floor surface. So, a poolside floor is intended to be wet and therefore should achieve PTV 36+ in both dry and wet conditions; but a tiled corridor on the 12th floor of an office building away from any washrooms and kitchen areas is clearly intended only ever to be dry, therefore the wet PTV is probably irrelevant.
Is PTV 36 wet critical?
There is a lot of misinformation that a PTV of 36+ is required at all times. This is simply not the case.
A thorough, professional risk assessment should be undertaken – incorporating all of the Six Sources of Slips – to determine the foreseeability of a floor becoming wet or contaminated, the likely risks presented and the potential control measures.
Anti-slip floors are not needed everywhere!
What does a Slip Safety Survey comprise?
In addition to pendulum testing, a Slip Safety Survey will review and comment on the Six Sources of Sips to give a holistic view of the slip safety of the building.
When should I have a pendulum test?
There are various times when a pendulum test would be beneficial, including:
- When specifying or choosing a new floor
- When a new floor has been installed, before it is handed over
- After any change in cleaning contractor or cleaning methodology
- After any accident or incident causing concern
- As part of routine monitoring and maintenance
How often should I have a pendulum test?
We – and our insurer partners – recommend that a pendulum test is undertaken at least annually.
Floors can and do change over time – often quite rapidly. A test from 2 years ago loses its value when it comes to accident prevention and insurance claims defensibility.
Can I or should I use a different test instead?
There are other testing methods available but the pendulum test should be used for an absolute measurement of slip resistance. It is, after all, the only test used in court. Other tests can be used for indicative testing and / or for monitoring of changes over time.
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