OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY (OH&S)

Each year more than 13,000 Queensland workers suffer an injury as a result of a slip, trip or fall costing Queensland businesses more than 256,000 lost work days and over $60 million in workers’ compensation payments.

Simple cost effective measures can reduce the number and severity of these injuries. This booklet aims to provide you with a basic understanding of what causes a slip or trip and provide you with some ideas on what you can do to stop these incidents occurring.

SLIP RESISTANCE REQUIREMENTS

In 2006, the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) commissioned a study to identify health and safety risks in buildings. The study found that slips, trips and falls accounted for the greatest risk to health and safety over the lifetime of a building. Recently the ABCB released the findings of a more detailed study that was undertaken by the Monash University of Accident Research Centre (MUARC).

 

One recommendation of the MUARC is for flooring manufactures and retailers to provide comparative information on slip resistance for their products. While building regulations have reduced most societal risk, individual risks have been gaining prominence, particularly in developed countries where the cost of slip and fall public liability claims is high.

 

One question that is often asked is, 'have you caused loss and amenity to others by negligent action or omission that otherwise would not have occurred if reasonable care was taken?' Whether or not we agree with slip resistance requirements, the community at large expects floors to be aesthetically pleasing and be adequately safe for its intended use. Although these may sometimes appear to be competing performance objectives, these can be overcome by using safe design principles.

Safe design employs a risk management approach and evaluating safety in terms of the likelihood and consequence of an incident to occur. As well as providing slip resistant flooring other design features should be considered and include awnings, airlocks and matting to reduce the extent and likelihood of contamination, visual aids (warning signage and contrasting stair nosings), administrative controls (cleaning regimes and maintenance), fall prevention aids (barricades and handrails) and consideration the environmental conditions (lighting and sloping surfaces) along with the footwear to be worn.

BUILDING CODE OF AUSTRALIA (BCA) SLIP RESISTANCE REQUIREMENTS

The Building Code of Australia (BCA) include safety performance requirements for safe design which requires most commercial buildings to provide slip resistive surfaces for safe movement, specifically emergency access and egress. The slip resistance requirements of Clause D2.10, D2.13 & D2.14 of the BCA state that “non-slip” and “non-skid” surfaces must be installed for pedestrian ramps, stair treads and landings. Further, parts of buildings may need to comply with disability access requirements.

STANDARDS AUSTRALIA & CSIRO HANDBOOK HB 197

Standards Australia & CSIRO Handbook HB 197 An Introductory Guide to the Slip Resistance of Pedestrian Surface Materials is seen as best practice for satisfying the slip resistance requirements of new floor surfaces. The handbook provides general commentary on the slip resistance test methods, classification, basis for specification and guidance for designing ramps and sloped areas.

Many people may be aware of Tables 3, 4 & 5 of Standards Australia & CSIRO Handbook HB 197 which provides minimum slip resistance classifications for specific locations.  There is much more information and detail that must be considered beyond simply extracting the classifications from the tables. Additionally, existing surfaces that do not meet the recommendations of HB 197 may not necessarily be unsafe, a risk assessment and possible control measures should be evaluated by a qualified expert.

DISABILITY ACCESS SLIP RESISTANCE REQUIREMENTS

Where disability access is required under Section D3 of the BCA, finishes must comply with Clause 12 of AS1428.1 Design for access and mobility Part 1 general requirements for access- Buildings. This states that all continuous accessible paths of travel shall have a slip-resistant surface. AS 1428.1 does not define the term slip resistance. However, the standard refers to AS 4586 and Standards Australia & CSIRO Handbook HB 197 for guidance on slip-resistant surfaces.

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