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|We are an independent consultancy and aim to provide unbiased information on the different slip test methods available. We use the Taylor Hobson Surtronic Duo Rz surface roughness meter in our assessments to provide supporting information alongside BS 7976 Pendulum tests. We would recommend the use of an Rz meter, of which there are many commercially available, alongside all Pendulum tests as part of a holistic slip risk assessment. The
Surtronic Duo surface roughness meter produces Rz measurements compatible
with the HSE's Slips Assessment
We do not recommend the use of an Rz meter to determine the slip risk of floor surfaces.
There is an on going debate regarding the Rz parameter between those academically involved in furthering the science of slip resistance testing. Some argue that the Rz parameter has no bearing on slip resistance and is a poor indicator of wear or contamination, others argue that the Rz parameter in conjunction with the HSE's SAT provides a good indicative measure of wet slip risk.
"Rz measurements should not be used in isolation, or as the basis of floor specification." - www.hse.gov.uk.
We are an independent body with significant experience conducting Rz measurement alongside accurate BS 7976 Pendulum tests. In our experience the Rz parameter has an unreliable correlation with expected Pendulum Test Value (PTV), often producing wildly varying results across a localised test area. Occasionally the Rz parameter correlates very well with expected PTV's, typically on macro-smooth ceramic, porcelain or stone surfaces. The Rz parameter has been found, more reliably, to indicate areas where wear or ingrained dirt will affect slip resistance, but only when Rz and PTV values have already been assessed and can be used as a benchmark.
We would never recommend a method of testing to our clients which produced less than reliable results. We would not recommend that any measurement of slip risk is based on Rz values alone given their unreliable correlation with measured PTV's. The BS 7976 Pendulum test is the only slip test method expressly recommended by the HSE. It has been argued, and indeed is promoted by the HSE themselves, that the Rz parameter and SAT provides a good indication of slip risk. We are of the opinion that unless the measurement is wholly accurate, and reliably so, it is of little use. There would be considerable expense involved in replacing/treating an erroneously classified 'high slip risk' floor, or possibly severe consequences of exposing pedestrians to an erroneously classified 'low slip risk' floor. A slip risk assessment based on the Rz parameter indicating that a surface probably presents a safe level of grip has no value in the inevitable legal proceedings following a slip and fall injury.
It is rare that the purchase of test equipment is cheaper than employing our services as independent experts, even for large or repeated projects. Of course there are also are further costs beyond the initial purchase of equipment, such as calibration, maintenance, time/effort/pay of an operator during preparation/testing/reporting, travel time/expense, training time/fees and costs of consumables. There are rare cases where in-house testing is cheaper than employing our services, though we find clients are normally happy to cover the small excess to ensure an expert independent assessment with the benefit of our considerable experience in the field. You can find more about our slip risk assessment service here or request a quote here.
We are of the firm opinion that inexperienced operators, using even the most user friendly test method, cannot be relied upon to produce and correctly interpret results to the extent that they would provide sound evidence in court. We would not recommend that responsible parties rely on an inexperienced operator's measurements, even if it is possible to save considerable sums. In our experience of forensic investigation we have come across 'less than robust' test reports that have ultimately cost their responsible parties the wasted test equipment/assessment fee, court fees (including our own assessment and expert witness fee) and compensation to the injured party.
Further discussion of the Rz parameter and its role in slip resistance testing can be found here.
If you require any further information please don't hesitate to get in touch.