The Australian Building Codes Board indicate that falls are the greatest health & safety risk in commercial buildings. Inadequate slip resistance can cause significant risk of serious injury, with slips and falls the most common cause of personal injury claims involving architects. Architects, projects managers, builders and certifiers are usually implicated by either not selecting/specifying compliant products, or substituting compliant product for non-compliant product.
With over 35 million square metres of tiles specified within Australia each year, only a small percentage of these are specified with an understanding of what the product actually is and how it will best perform over time.
Most new floor finishes lose between 10% and 50% of their slip resistance in the first 3 months after installation. Many specifications are high risk before the tiles are even walked on.
Internationally, building codes increasingly require products to satisfy the performance requirements for the intended life of the facility. In addition to this, consumer protection laws expect products to have adequate life cycle performance. Industry best practice now suggests that selecting tiles based on test results obtained from factory fresh samples is a HIGH-RISK assessment process. This is because no consideration is given to wear, contamination, proprietary surface coatings or subsequent cleaning that all influence the behavior of the pedestrian surface. Consequently, accelerated wear testing should be taken into account when testing the product life-cycle.