Overview of Changes to the 2013 Version of AS 4586
The new Australian Standards for slip resistance testing AS 4586 Slip resistance classification of new pedestrian surface materials and AS 4663 Slip resistance measurement of existing pedestrian surfaces were published on 28 June 2013. Whilst changes to testing procedures and classification have been published, it will nominally take a few months for testing houses to implement changes and for the industry to be aware of the new changes and even longer for recommendations to be revised given HB 197 will unlikely be ready to be published for some months to come. The most significant changes have been outlined below to provide some guidance as to what changes have come into play. This article will focus on AS 4586 for new surfaces that floor surface merchants are likely to be more familiar with.
Appendix A (Wet Pendulum Test Method):
The introduction of pink lapping film is set to dramatically change previously tested materials. The 2004 version expressed results as a British Pendulum Number (BPN), however it will now report the average value of the minimum five pieces of product tested as a Slip Resistance Value (SRV). This assists to reflect the change in the method and reduce confusion between the 2004 and 2013 versions by changing classifications as P0 through to P5.
The challenge particularly for stone suppliers is that many products, particularly honed stone, will likely change classifications from what was X (now P3) down to Z (now P0, P1 or P2), which would make these products unsuitable for internal wet areas, if assessed by the Standards Australia HB 197 (1999) An Introductory Guide to the Slip Resistance of Pedestrian Surface Materials.
There is now classifications provided for surfaces tested with slider 55 (TRL) for SRVs below 40 which is likely to provide confusion, particularly where both slider 96 (Four S) and slider 55 (TRL) may be used. It is more preferable to use slider 55 for highly profiled and rough surfaces or where people may be barefoot, such as around swimming pools and showers.
Appendix B (Dry Floor Friction Test Method):
The FFT has relatively little change with the exception of the classification categories. D0 is used for surfaces measuring a Coefficient of Friction less than 0.40 and D1 for surfaces with a Coefficient of Friction equal to or greater than 0.40. This now eliminates the confusion of Class F being a Pass, which previously many people thought was a fail.
Appendix C (Wet-Barefoot Inclining Platform Test Method):
This has not changed significantly given the method compares against verified calibration boards that have been previously assess at 12, 18 and 24 degrees for the A, B and C classifications. The name of theses methods have changed from being a “ramp test” to an “inclining platform test” to reduce the incorrect assumption that the test was only used to measure the slip resistance of ramps.
Appendix D (Oil-Wet Inclining Platform Test Method):
This test which provides R slip ratings, has not changed significantly for existing testing houses, which allows the same shoes and test panels as the 2004 version, however the test method now allows the use of Uvex shoes and the new ST version of calibration boards. The use of the new ST in the Australian Standard now permits the use of products which have been tested overseas to the current version of DIN 51130.
There is likely to be differences in measurements when testing between these two combinations of test shoes and calibration boards; the extent at this stage is unknown and will be subjected to revision. The revision will likely attempt to find alternate shoes as both test shoes specified are no longer manufactured. The long term intent will be to align with the current German DIN 51130 standard to reduce technical barriers when importing or exporting products. It will though take a period of time for testing houses to undertake a comparison of alternate test shoes and ST calibration boards to implement an amendment within the standard. In the interim, it seems sensible to undertake oil wet ramp testing in Australia with testing houses that use Uvex shoes and ST calibration boards.
What about an updated HB 197???
HB 197 is currently being drafted to provide guidance on these changes and possibly alter changes to the 1999 version of HB 197. In the interim, best practice would be to undertake testing to the new 2013 standard and compare slip resistance classifications to those within HB 197 for the inclining platform tests (Appendix C & D).
For the wet pendulum and dry floor friction tests, the individual measurements should be considered in line with the old classification system outlined in HB 197. For example a surface achieving a SRV of 36 when tested to the 2013 version then equates to a Pendulum X classification to assess in line with HB 197. Be warned however that 2004 version test results cannot be compared with any new recommendations, as the changes in the pendulum test are more likely to provide lower results when tested to the newer standard.
Implementation into the BCA / NCC
The wheels are set into motion for slip resistance requirements to be implemented within the 2014 version of the National Construction Codes (NCC) for stair nosings, stair landings and pedestrian ramps. Once ratified there will be further information in the public domain regarding the requirements, however one should be aware of the potential changes where products will be required to tested to the 2013 version of AS 4586 on NATA endorsed test certificates.
Overall the changes align more with European slip resistance methods, allowing reliance on suitable accredited test certificates for imported products. The new test slip resistance methods will likely be introduced as prescriptive requirements for stairways and ramps in new construction projects. Standards Australia HB 197 is currently being drafted to provide further guidance on recommendations for slip resistance in specific locations and further consultation with the ASAA and ATC along with other association groups will be required.
For more information on changes to the slip resistance standards please contact Slip Check to discuss further.
Author: Carl Strautins
As a principle at Safe Environments, Carl Strautins first started his career at CSIRO conducting research in slip resistance and developed the accelerated wear slip resistance test. He holds a degree in materials science, masters in occupational health and safety and a masters in science in occupational hygiene, Carl provides guidance to industry to minimise the risk of slip and fall incidents. He is engaged on a regular basis to provide expert opinion for disputes and legal proceedings.