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Making the Workplace Non-Slip Safe

Mar 1, 2008
There are a few safety standards for in the American workplace that are set by various safety and administration groups. Stairways in industrial settings are one location that is checked for any safety hazards by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) for instance.

So if you have any work location or foot traffic where workers are climbing stairs where there are slip hazards there needs to be some form of friction. What OSHA recommends is to have what they call a "static coefficient" of 0.5 or greater. This is done by creating steps with material that range from adhesive non slip stair treads, to corrugated metals or applied coatings.

Types of Friction Materials

There are differing types of material to create friction on stairs, but it depends on the aesthetic taste, foot traffic and stair materials among other things.

If the stairs are made out of concrete coating-type paint, it is usually used to create grip. The coatings are typically made of a type of acrylic polymer and bonds well with porous concrete. The coefficient of friction can rate quite high depending on what is used. It's not unusual to get a coefficient of 1 or greater, even when the surface gets wet.

It's often quite comparable to non slip stair tread strips in the grip department, but you can apply it like paint with different colors to choose from. Since most of the material is non porous, it wont have dirt or grime bringing the friction factor down. In addition, the material can be made without harmful vapors, called VOCs, which is good for indoor use among sensitive areas (i.e. high spark, hospitals, food preparation locations etc).

The most common of all friction material line are the non slip stair treads, most known as the grip tape strips found on many pedestrian stairways. These have hard abrasives fused into the base strip, which is usually a strip of high strength aluminum allow. The adhesive material is often made from some epoxy material that has grit to it. The manufacturer will often supply a hardness and grit rating for the material. The higher the non slip stair tread grit is, the more foot traffic is expected.

The friction strength for most indoor buildings with non slip stair treads is often around the coefficient of 1.

Some neat features that have come out for strips are the glow-in-the-dark feature. The front edge of the grips will absorb the light during the day and if there is any sudden loss of light, say from a power outage, a green glow will emanate from it.
About the Author
Art Gib writes for Amstep (http://www.amstep.com), a leader in the fabrication and design of non-slip stair treads for over 85 years. Their technology is positively recognized worldwide and used by the U.S. Navy on aircraft carrier landing decks.
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