Making you feel safe is important to us

Why safety?

Why is safety so important? What makes flooring safe or unsafe? What does slip resistance mean? And what can you do to find out if your flooring is safe or not? We ask, and answer, these questions and many more for our customers every day. Our dedication to improving the safety of flooring is what sets as up apart from other manufacturers – it's what we always have done, and always will do.

Sustained slip resistance

The statistics of safety

Everyone's used a major public concourse at some point in their life. Somewhere big and busy, like a train station, for example. When it rains outside or, say, someone spills their coffee, parts of the station floor will be wet. And that can make it slippery.

If there was safety flooring with a lifetime sustained slip resistance of TRRL ≥36 on the concourse, the risk of anyone slipping would be one in a million. If a different type of flooring had been used, like smooth or rubber, the flooring would lose its slip resistance and over time the odds of someone slipping could be as high as one in two. That's a big difference.

Safety flooring with sustained slip resistance protects people from slips and falls for as long as it's in use.Sustained slip resistance is critical, it's how we can stop you from being one in two people that fall, and make you one in a million instead.

Why Altro is a safe choice

Not all flooring is as safe as ours. This is usually because it has a thin coating or emboss which can wear away; or it's smooth or rubber flooring, which only has sustained slip resistance in dry, contaminant-free conditions.

To us, only flooring that continues to provide TRRL ≥36 for its entire lifetime (the minimum HSE recommended level) can be considered a true safety floor, because it offers sustained slip resistance. In other words, it will continue to keep users safe for its lifetime.

And because it's our mission to keep your risk level to one in a million, all Altro safety flooring provides TRRL ≥36 for its lifetime.

How to stay safe

All safety flooring needs to be maintained to make sure it performs to expected standards. Things to consider include:

Cleaning

Always follow the manufacturer's cleaning recommendations. Incorrect cleaning can lead to a build-up of dirt and/or cleaning chemicals on the surface of the flooring which can act as a barrier to effective slip resistance.

Footwear

Footwear plays an important role in slip prevention and recommendations can be made to staff in certain locations like hospitals and restaurants to significantly reduce the risk of injury.

Contaminants

This generally means anything that ends up on the floor and can include liquids like water and oil, as well as dry contaminants such as dust, flour and cardboard. Contaminants reduce available friction on the flooring and can lead to a slip or injury.

So What's The Risk?

We strongly recommend carrying out a risk assessment on any area you're thinking of installing flooring to identify all potential slip hazards. Some sectors clearly outline the need for risk assessments. The Department of Health's performance requirements for building elements used in healthcare facilities set out essential quality and safety standards. These performance requirements state that a risk assessment should be carried out before any new or replacement flooring or walling is installed, and should consider:

  • environment
  • contamination
  • slip and trip potential of foot traffic under different conditions
  • appearance
  • acoustics
  • use
  • footwear

All of these factors can be made worse if lighting isn't good enough for users to see potential hazards. And stairs are a particularly dangerous area – around 500 people in the UK die each year in stair-related accidents.

Because we take safety so seriously, we think that risk assessments should become best practice in all sectors. This would protect people who use the flooring, and also those who are responsible for the health and safety of their employees and visitors.

If you need help carrying out a risk assessment, use the information sheet on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website.

How safety flooring works

Wet contaminants on flooring create a film that prevents complete contact between a shoe and the floor, which can result in a slip or fall. A wet film only needs to be 1-2 μm thick to prevent complete contact between a shoe and the flooring: that's about one tenth the thickness of a human hair. Dry contaminants can act like millions of tiny ball bearings, which can also result in a slip or fall.

Safety flooring works by incorporating aggregates into a wear layer. If they're sufficient in number and quality, they can penetrate the wet film to provide contact with the shoe, or sit proud to prevent the ball bearing effect of dry contaminants.

Specifying – what and why

Is my flooring really safe?

Not all safety floorings offer sustained slip resistance to the minimum HSE level for their declared lifetime. We know this because external, independent laboratory tests prove it. And as the inventors of safety flooring, we have an established pedigree in championing the need for safety. This is why we're campaigning for responsible sustained slip resistance information – indicators of how long a safety floor will maintain its slip resistance performance.

Pioneering sustained slip resistance

At the moment there's no legal requirement for sustained slip resistance, or an agreed industry standard on how to measure it. So some manufacturers can launch products with a thin coating or emboss that qualifies them as safety flooring, but can still wear away and leave users vulnerable.

We develop Altro safety flooring to go beyond current requirements and provide sustained slip resistance for life. We work with leading international test houses, and also invest in additional tests, to make sure our products consistently deliver to the highest standards.

To show how thorough we are, we're introducing a logo that shows the number of years you can expect Altro safety flooring to provide sustained slip resistance to the HSE minimum standard of TRRL ≥36. In short, we know our slip resistance won't fail for the life expectancy of our product, so we won't add our logo to other ones like smooth and rubber flooring that don't have this lifetime slip resistance.

We strongly recommend that you check the sustained slip resistance of any safety flooring with the manufacturer to make sure you use the most effective product for each area, and minimise risk to users.

Slips, trips and falls

How common are slips, trips and falls in the UK?

Slips, trips and falls are the most common cause of injury in the workplace and are a major cause of absence from work.

In 2012/13,  they made up more than half of the total number of 19,707 reported major injuries.

http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causinj/kinds-of-accident.htm

Over 1,600 healthcare staff suffered a major injury in 2009/10 because of a slip, trip or fall, most often on a wet or contaminated floor.

55% of all accidents in education are caused by slips, trips and falls, and they're the leading source of injury, disability, lifelong impairment and death for the elderly, infirm and young.

They lead to financial problems too. They cost employers over £512 million each year, and the National Health Service £133 million.

Can they be prevented?

Most of the time, yes, with fit for purpose safety flooring.

HSE research in the UK has shown that 90% of slipping accidents happen on wet floors, most often on relatively smooth surfaces. To try and reduce the risk of slips and trips, it's really important to assess how potentially slippery a floor can be.

What am I legally obliged to do about slips and trips?

As an employer

According to HSE "The law requires that floors must not be slippery, so they put people's safety at risk".

Find out more about your responsibilities as an employer to reduce slips and trips at www.hse.gov.uk/slips

As a designer

Designers have a legal duty to make sure that people using the buildings they design stay safe. According to the Construction Design and Management (CDM) Regulations 2007, a designer has a legal responsibility to "avoid foreseeable risks to the health and safety of any person using a structure designed as a workplace". Designing buildings to avoid the risk of slips and trips is therefore an important legal obligation.

When it comes to the design of a building, we're dedicated to offering designers a full range of safety flooring that can help them comply with Health and Safety requirements.