The “Disclaimers” that ANSI and TCNA wrote into the A137.1/A326.3 code that makes you negligent
The ANSI A137.1/A326.3 standard states that, “Tiles with a DCOF of 0.42 or greater are not necessarily suitable for all projects. The specifier shall determine tiles appropriate for specific project conditions, considering by way of example, but not in limitation,
- “type of use,
- expected contaminants,
- expected maintenance,
- expected wear, and
- manufacturers’ guidelines and recommendations.”
Tile Council of North America (TCNA), who helped create this test, goes on to give even more disclaimers for this unproven test method. They state that the possibility for a slip and fall accident may be affected by
- “The material of the shoe sole and its degree of wear
- The speed and length of stride at the time of a slip
- The physical and mental condition of the individual at the time of a slip
- Whether the floor is flat or inclined
- How the surface is used
- How the tile is structured
- How drainage takes place if liquids are involved”
TCNA and ANSI give no guidance at all as to if any or all of these factors should require higher DCOF or slip resistance, or if so how much higher. To make matters worse, most flooring manufacturers give no slip resistance guidelines or recommendations whatsoever on their packaging or websites.
The latest version of the test, ANSI A326.3, adds additional disclaimers. One of them states “The coefficient of friction (COF) measurement provided in this standard is an evaluation of hard surface flooring materials under known conditions using a standardized sensor material prepared according to a specific protocol. As such it can provide a useful comparison of surfaces, but does not predict the likelihood a person will or will not slip on a hard surface flooring material.” So therefore this test is designed to tell people if the polished version of a stone tile is more slippery than the rough-honed version of the same stone, for example, but this test is NOT intended to be an assessment of slip risk. The 0.42 DCOF number, therefore, does not in any way mean your flooring will be “safe” from slips.
There is no guidance as to how to consider any or all of the above “disclaimers” when you buy flooring. So this leaves you, the purchaser or specifier of the flooring and the builder owner/manager/etc. vulnerable to accusations of negligence. Negligence is the key word in personal injury lawsuits.
How can people know that their flooring is appropriate for its intended use? For a swimming pool deck, for instance, should it be 0.42, 0.60, 0.80? SCOF or DCOF? There are no guidelines at this time to apply to ANSI A137.1/A326.3 DCOF data.
What we suggest is using pendulum test data and well-proven (Australian) standards that apply to more than 30 specific situations. This is discussed in some detail on Safety Direct America‘s blog entry about “Situation-Specific Floor Slip Resistance Testing Standards.”