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Accid Anal Prev. 2003 Mar;35(2):211-25.

The validity and reliability of a portable slip meter for determining floor slipperiness during simulated heel strike.

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Liberty Mutual Research Center for Safety and Health, Hopkinton, MA 01748, USA. raoul.gronqvist@occuphealth


A previously developed test rig was used as starting point for designing a portable slip meter with two new features. First, an inflatable pneumatic test wheel, consisting of six slider units, was introduced as the impacting contact element relative to floor surface. Second, an inductive trigger was built into the system to facilitate a precise timing of the slider-floor contact during the test. This new test rig was designed to measure transitional friction properties of contaminated floor surfaces during simulated heel strike, which is considered the most critical phase of gait from the slip and fall point of view. Another objective was to quantify the validity and reliability of this test method in the laboratory, but not yet in the field. The measurement process was evaluated on eight wet and oily floor surfaces (vinyl and ceramic tile floorings) using two slider materials (plain, profiled), two normal loads (100, 200 N), and two sliding velocities (0.15, 0.30 m/s) as independent variables. The outputs of the portable slip meter, in terms of transitional friction coefficients, were compared to force platform-based friction values and to slip resistance values obtained with a slip simulator apparatus for laboratory testing of shoes and floor surfaces. The outputs were also evaluated against slipperiness ratings made by three male subjects in paired comparison trials, in which the subjects walked over eight wet floor surfaces wearing shoes with the plain soling material. The results showed that test option 200 N and 0.15m/s led to optimum validity despite its tendency to promote frictional vibrations (stick-slip) in the contact surface. Compared to the lower sliding speed, the higher speed reduced both stick-slip and measurement bias. Test option 200 N and 0.30 m/s was the most reliable one in this experiment. It yielded lower friction coefficients than any other test option and reduced the likelihood of underestimating slip and fall hazards. The results implied that the minimum friction coefficient was 0.25 for preventing a fall on wet floor surfaces, whereas the limit for preventing a slip was in the range 0.30-0.35. Transitional friction measurement was found to be a valid and reliable indicator for slip resistance. A more accurate control of the normal force during testing is needed for actual field use of the test method.

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