According to Safe Environments , the use of sealers on floor surfaces enhances the cleaning characteristics and reduces the likelihood of staining. However, the application of sealers may affect the slip resistance of floors. Slip resistance is a functional design issue where inadequate attention may result in injury due to a slip and fall. The generic type and film building properties of a sealer determine the final slip resistance of the floor surface. If a topical sealer is used, the sealer itself determines the slip resistance of the surface, with negligible influence by the substrate. The sealer manufacturer must be consulted to obtain the relevant slip resistance expected and the method of application of the sealer.
Penetrating sealers affect the slip resistance to a lesser degree. However, changes may still occur due to composition or application and film thickness. The sealer intended to be used must be applied and maintained to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Many shopping centres use materials such as terrazzo that use a topical sealer to make the surface easier to clean and reduce potential staining. Topical sealers applied to these floors are generally removed and re-applied on a regular basis. Slip resistance testing of the sealer immediately after application and prior to removal can assist to determine any changes in slip resistance over the life cycle of the sealer as the in service slip resistance is subject to change over time. Slip resistance testing of the surface can also identify slippery floors prior to public access.
The following points can assist to ensure the specification of adequate slip resistance and identify potentially slippery floors prior to public access:
- The users should obtain slip resistance test results of the sealer considered to be used and confirm that the sealer indicates that it will be suitable for use
- The users should confirm that the specified product meets the performance criteria by conducting onsite slip resistance testing upon installation and document the process to provide evidence of due diligence and
- Identify any subsequent reduction in slip resistance by conducting regular onsite slip resistance testing and OHS property risk audits. This may be quarterly, bi-annually or annually depending on the nature of the environment