Slippery when wet - How to manage the risks

by Ken Buckley on 25-4-2017

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Some floors are always going to be a problem when they get wet. A polished marble entrance floor in a luxury hotel, for instance, is always going to be "High risk" when wet.

What can you do to manage the risks?

How do you know if your floor is "High Slip Potential"?

The Pendulum slip test is recognised as the most reliable method of assessing an installed floor. This gives you a pendulum test value (PTV) with the below classification:

Classification   PTV
High slip potential 0-24
Moderate slip potential  25-35
Low slip potential  36+


You may feel you need to have  Pendulum slip testing carried out and get a written report. However if the test is going to show a high slip potential, and many flooring types will, then there is not much point in carrying out this expensive test to prove what you already know.  See video of a Pendulum slip test. 

 The foot test 

One very simple test you can do yourself is as follows;

You will need a trigger spray bottle. Make sure the floor has been cleaned prior to testing, you will also need to be wearing a shoe type typical of the footwear likely to be used on this floor. 

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Use your foot as the pendulum, move you foot in a scuffing action across the surface of the floor, do this a few times to get the feel of the floor. 

Now spray a fine mist of water onto the same bit of the floor. (Take care not to slip over!) Now do the same swinging scuff against the floor with your foot. 



You can quickly feel what is a "High Slip potential" floor. If the floor is a lot more slippery when wet, it is a "High Slip potential". 

Obviously, this test won't carry too much weight in a court of law, however it will give you a really good idea of any problems. 


So now you know your floor is high slip potential, what can you do?

Well you could try and treat the floor depending on what floor type it is, you might be able to alter the finish of the surface to improve the roughness of the floor. 

You might be able to replace the floor covering with a type that is more slip retardant when wet. 

Either of the above two options are often not possible. If you have a lovely polished marble entrance hall, they probably won't be options. 

So if this is the case you need to be able to manage the risk, below are some ideas as to how this could be done.

Managing the risks of a High slip potential floor

A smooth clean & dry floor is rarely a slip risk. Ensure the floor is cleaned regularly enough to keep it free of dirt. Make sure that the right cleaning chemical is being using, very importantly, at the right dilution. (if used too strong a solution can leave a residue and make the floor more slippery).

If it is an entrance floor and it is subject to people bringing water in on their shoes during rainy weather, you need to have some special measures in place to manage this risk.

If practical have a procedure in place that during wet weather someone puts out extra matting to help dry feet coming into the building. They also should put out Caution wet floor signs. (Word of warning here: don't cry wolf, if signs are left out all the time, no one will take any notice of them when it rains)

Have something like the Pulse Mop to hand, to quickly mop up any spills and water that makes it onto the floor.

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Make sure a written risk assessment has been carried out. Make sure you have these steps in place and everyone knows what to do to manage the risks. 

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