The Laws On Floor Safety – Are You Following The Regulations?
When creating or renovating buildings and other publicly accessed places, we tend to focus on the major things like budget, design, floor area, and the functionality of spaces. Such is understandable as these are no doubt important. But aside from these, it’s also important to take note of details such as your building’s flooring.
It can be easy to dismiss the safety of building floors but the truth is that people are likely to use floors more than any other part of a building. Add to that the fact that year after year slips, trips and falls cause thousands of preventable injuries and even death, and it becomes crucial to ensure floor safety by following certain safety standards
The Laws that Ensure Floor Safety
You may not be aware of this, but there are certain laws and regulations regarding floor safety. The main legislation in line with this would be The Building Code of Australia, which specifies various and comprehensive requirements for safe design.
According to the BCA, most commercial buildings must have slip-resistant surfaces especially in areas of emergency access and egress. The BCA mandates that the slip resistance of ramps, landing surfaces and nosing be not less than those specified in the below table when tested in accordance with AS 4586:
This means of course, that these surfaces must undergo a professionally-conducted slip test. And in order to achieve such safe levels, these surfaces may require the application of non-slip and non-skid surface treatments.
The Disability (Access to Premises – Buildings) Standards is another legislation that aims to improve accessibility of buildings for all. While slip resistance is not emphasised in the legislation as a requirement for accessibility, it is understood to be an inherent requirement, as accessibility for all means that even those who have difficulty walking on slippery surfaces may be able to access such paths.
Lastly, there are state-based occupational health and safety acts and regulations that ensure that the risk of slips, trips and falls are reduced to as low as reasonably practicable in the work environment. To abide by these occupational health and safety regulations, it is essential that floors be slip resistant, and that the workplace be designed to limit and possibly eliminate all chances of floor-related injury.
Compliance with Floor Safety Regulations
There are a number of ways one can comply with the above floor safety regulations. As previously stated, non-slip and non-skid surface treatments such as coatings, grinding, sand blasting and adhesive strips, can be used to increase the slip resistance of surfaces. The choice of flooring material itself should also be carefully considered. This should be selected with consideration to the function of the space, the amount of pedestrian traffic it will receive, and its possible exposure to moisture or contaminants.
For areas that are exposed to various environmental elements and moisture, safety compliance would mean regularly keeping the area clean and free of obstructions, contaminants or moisture. A rubber matting could be applied to limit contact between soles and wet surfaces.
Floor surfaces must be kept even and any sudden changes in flooring material, level or smoothness should be addressed, and pedestrians given fair warning. Loose mats, torn carpets, uneven or broken concrete, and chipped or cracked tiles must be repaired, and regular inspection and risk assessment must be made of floors.
Lastly, have your floor surfaces go through professional slip resistance testing and assessment. This will ensure that you are fully complying with Australian standards for floor safety, and are keeping pedestrians safe within your premises at all times.