Overview of Changes to the 2013 Version of AS 4663
The new Australian Standards for slip resistance testing AS 4663 Slip resistance measurement of existing pedestrian surfaces was published on 28 June 2013 and is considered the gold standard to assess floor safety and measure potential changes in slip resistance due to cleaning and maintenance. The 2013 version of AS 4663 still retains the same pendulum for wet slip resistance testing and the FFT (Tortus) for dry slip resistance testing; but there is no interpretation of the results provided as yet and is likely to cause some initial confusion.
Standards Australia Handbook 197-2013 ???
A new Standards Australia Handbook 197, which provides guidance for interpreting slip resistance test results, is currently being proposed to be officially drafted and will take some six to 12 months to be published. Slip resistance values are expected to reduce as a result of the new pendulum test method which needs to be effectively communicated to building managers to prevent unfounded concern. In the interim, slip resistance testing conducted to the 2013 version would be best interpreted through the use of the 2004 notional contributions of slipping along with HB 197:1999, or seeking specialist advice from a consultant.
Wet Pendulum Test
The changes in relation to the wet pendulum test method is primarily through the way that the test foot is conditioned. Previously the test foot was conditioned using a rough sandpaper, but is now conditioned using a polishing film. The effect being that the test foot is smoother which in turn will likely lower slip resistance values in wet conditions. This will probably be quite dramatic for polished terrazzo where British Pendulum Numbers (BPNs) may change from 25 to 30 down to as low as 10.
This dramatic change will likely cause significant concern for building managers who may see their slip resistance values be half which they once were. This may well place significant pressure on cleaning contractors to rectify by increasing the slip resistance. The reality will be that the surface hasn’t changed, and the risk of slipping is no greater than it was previously; it is just that the testing method has changed.
To prevent over reaction in the retail sector due to the large potential changes in slip resistance, it would be well worth to initially test to the 2004 and the 2013 standard at the same time. The additional testing will help provide evidence that the surface hasn’t changed dramatically and provides evidence that the change in slip resistance values due to the standard rather than cleaning activities. Finally it will also assist to create a new baseline slip resistance value with which to compare subsequent testing.
Changes to the Dry Floor Friction Test
This test remains the same with no significant changes, albeit to assist in usability and accuracy of individual measurements over 100 mm in stead of 90 mm. This assists the minimum set path run that can be used when there is no read out or data logging capability to evaluate measurements in more detail.
Other changes in the new standard now includes the testing of carpets and a Slope Correction Value (SCV). Previously further calculations were required to assess the risk of slipping on sloping surfaces, this will now hopefully reduce confusion for the required slip resistance of ramps.
whilst the changes to the new 2013 test standard are significant and likely to reduce slip resistance values, the way in which the results be interpreted should remain. Be aware though that these may change dramatically, and is not necessarily a change in the risk of slipping. Where results are significantly low in context of the 2004 versions, it is recommended that specialist advice be sought for guidance.
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.