Pendulum Floor Slip Resistance Testing

The pendulum slip resistance tester has been in use in countries around the world for measuring the slip resistance of floors since the 1940’s. Although the instrument was developed originally in the United States, the British began using it for investigating slip and fall accidents 45 years ago and began manufacturing the instrument more so than American manufacturers, and so the instrument is sometimes referred to as the “British Pendulum.” The most useful safety standards and test method in use today utilizing the pendulum slip test device (or pendulum skid tester) is Australian Standard HB198. This standard includes situation-specific safety standards for Pendulum Test Value (PTV), or BPN (British Pendulum Number) for more than 27 different flooring situations. The standard recommends minimum wet PTV’s ranging from 12 (for dry areas) to 55 (swimming pool ramps and stairs leading to water.) Here are excerpts from those recommendations. The ASTM E303-93 in the United States and BS EN 13036-4:2011 in the United Kingdom is used for measuring slip resistance of flooring materials with the pendulum skid test device.

The pendulum test is designed to replicate the heel strike of a pedestrian, which is where most slips occur. A fluid film is created between the heel of a shoe and a wet floor causing a hydroplane slip, and this test method generates a similar fluid film and is therefore very accurate in assessing pedestrian slip risk. The pendulum is also effective in testing in the dry condition and using dry contaminants such as drywall dust. Oil and other wet contaminants can also be used.

pendulum slip tester in action The pendulum slip resistance test is well-researched and long backed by the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) standard E303 that was validated and has been in use since 1971. 3500 test results on walking surfaces were obtained over more than 25 years to validate this test method. The pendulum also received the highest rating for correlation with human traction in a peer-reviewed published scientific study of 11 types of floor friction meters by the University of Southern California (USC) Medical Center.

The British pendulum method is the national standard for pedestrian slip resistance in at least 49 nations on five continents including Austria, Australia, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dubai, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom and has been endorsed by Ceramic Tile Institute of America (CTIOA) for over 15 years. The pendulum is also used for indoor and (using ASTM test method F 2157 – 09) outdoor sports surfaces.

The Australian, United Kingdom, and CTIOA-endorsed method for pedestrian floor slip resistance testing is based on a slightly modified version of the American test method ASTM E 303. Data on precision and bias relevant to human traction are available for that method. A precision statement is included in E 303 test method, and several other precision studies have been conducted over the past several decades in the UK and elsewhere. The safety criterion specified in research conducted with the pendulum slip tester has become a standard in the United Kingdom, Australia, Dubai, Malta, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, and other countries that follow British law, and has been in use continuously, with the same numerical safety criteria, since 1971.

Percy A. Sigler at the U.S. National Bureau of Standards developed the pendulum method for assessment of pedestrian traction potential, publishing his results in 1948. Minor adjustments to ASTM E 303 and safety standards for pedestrian traction are specified by the United Kingdom Slip Resistance Group in their 2011 publication “The Assessment of Floor Slip Resistance: The UK Slip Resistance Group Guidelines (Issue 4)”. This group (ukslipresistance.org.uk) has members in the UK, USA, and Australia who contributed to the fine-tuning of the guidelines based on experience with this floor slip test method.

The pendulum test method and its safety standard have international acceptance in courts of law. Although other slip test devices have been used in courts, the pendulum has much more extensive and internationally-accepted research backing its validity, precision, and repeatability. Simply put, the pendulum slip test is the most researched and most useful slip resistance test available in the world today, especially with its situation-specific recommendations. Obviously, a pool deck would require more wet slip resistance than a lobby, and the pendulum test is the only slip test that takes this into account.

C1028 SCOF test in progress

ASTM C1028 SCOF test – withdrawn in 2014

Some other ASTM test methods for wet slip resistance are withdrawn and no longer valid. See C1028.info for more information on the C1028-07 test method, which is not appropriate for assessing slip risk in the wet condition. Here’s more information on outdated, unreliable, or withdrawn American slip test standards. There are a couple other instruments for assessing slip risk which have been validated internationally and have approved test methods, and here is more information on those valid, reliable tribometers.

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