SLIPS, TRIPS, AND FALLS. HOW ANSI B101.1 CAN SAVE YOU.
Founder and President, National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI)
In a recent interview by Jim Vlcek, Editor-In-Chief of Concrete News, Russell Kendzior, Founder and President of the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI), spoke out on behalf of the new ANSI/NFSI B101.1 floor safety certification. Kendzior is also the secretary for the ANSI B-101 committee on the prevention of slips, trips, and falls. He stressed that all floor planning people should understand and effectively use this new certification when talking to floor owners, architects, designers, spec writers, facilities directors, planners and especially the FGS installers.
Kendzior explained just how important the "safety" issue is now...and will continue to grow in importance in the future by saying; "I think it's essential for all individuals connected to the FGS floor system to realize that, for the first time in American history, there actually is a uniform, national standard (ANSI/NFSI B-101.1) that defines three individual risk categories or "traction ranges" for all floors....including polished concrete FGS floors. This has never happened before.
JV: In the past, there never was a uniform way to measure the slip resistance of a walkway which allowed the property owner to determine the safety of their floors...why is this so important now?
RK: "The ANSI/NFSI B101.1 standard is relatively new and in the first stages of being specified by architects, designers, and property owners. Forward thinking flooring contractors, such as FGS installers, can really benefit by informing their customers the standard and should make safety a part of their sales presentation. In fact, if ANYONE should be carrying that banner of walkway safety, it should be the FGS installers. Why?...for the sheer reason that the FGS PERMASHINE floor product has been NFSI Certified as "High-Traction." The FGS installer has 'bragging rights' when it comes to meeting the high-traction range per the ANSI/NFSI B101.1 standard. They have three reasons to carry this "safety banner" to their customers! First, the flooring contractor has an obligation to educate clients about those standards which impact the safe operation of their business. Second, FGS installers are often required by contract to provide a "slip resistant" proof of this. such is based on the ANSI/NFSI B101.1 standard and NFSI product certification. Finally, FGS installers and their clients can defend themselves in the event of a slip-and-fall claim and lawsuit. (most FGS installers architects, engineers and planners have clients who are very concerned about the safety of their floors and want them in compliance with the industry standard for safety).
If the FGS client is the target of a lawsuit, they can claim in court that they (the end-user of the FGS system), have purchased a floor system that has been independently tested and is in compliance with the ANSI/NFSI B101.1 standards high-traction rating. For the FGS installer, this is a selling point and gives him 'edge' on the competition."
JV: Explain the issue of floor safety and how NFSI is approaching the floor systems and floor coverings industries.
RK: "When you ask a business owner about their slip and fall problem they will often respond by saying, ‘of course we have a problem with customer and employee slips and falls...that is why we have insurance!' Unfortunately, given the current recession and increasing insurance costs, such an answer is unacceptable. Safety is a profit center and products that prevent slips and falls are a key buying factor when it comes to selection of flooring materials. I believe that in the months and years to come a growing number of flooring manufacturers, architects, designers, and property owners will be embracing polished concrete floors, in part, because of its enhanced safety benefit."
The ANSI B101 committee is currently in the final stages of approving a new product labeling standard entitled ANSI/NFS B101.5. Once approved, product manufacturers will be encouraged to label their floor covering product(s) with this new, uniform labeling method to better inform the consumer. The proposed ANSI/NFSI B101.5 label will look similar to the gas gauge in your car and will have three distinct ranges... "HIGH", MODERATE", and "LOW" traction. The arrow will point to one of the three traction ranges, which are color coded as green (high-traction), yellow (moderate-traction), and red (low traction). This simple labeling standard will be an important step in educating consumers as to the safety benefit of all the floors they seek to purchase, which, in the end, will serve to reduce slip and fall events.
I believe that in today's economy, floor care is being elevated to include safety. Many people clean their floors because they look dirty, assuming they are making them safer, only to find that the cleaning product left a slippery film. Several years ago the NFSI conducted a study on household floor cleaners and their effect on slip resistance. The study revealed that most household floor cleaners actually made floors more slippery after use which is believed to directly contribute to the growing number of falls in the home. The growing number of slip and fall claims taking place over the past couple of decades have put a lot of pressure on both floor owners, insurance companies and floor maintenance companies to really come up with better solutions for prevention techniques for slips and falls. This, of course, is being driven primarily by the aging of our society.
The most likely slip-and-fall victim is an elderly individual (defined as someone over 60 according to the ADA). The baby boomer generation has now reached that age and thirty-seven-and-a-half million Americans over the age of sixty are going to double to more that seventy-seven-million by the end of this decade. They are the most 'likely' victims of slip-and-fall accidents happening outside of the home in the business environment. When we do the math, it is estimated that falls cost the country more than $80- billion annually. That number could go to over $100- billion, witch includes everything in the mix—litigation, hospital care, insurance company pay-outs, Medicare and Medicaid payments, etc."
"NFSI's standards are in the process of being developed into ANSI standards. ANSI carries the distinction of being one of the world's most respected standards developing organizations.
JV: Keeping insurance premiums down makes good sense for all of us. How have insurance companies responded to this new rating system?
RK: "We anticipate that the insurance industry will, in the years to come, begin to require that their policy holders have their floors tested per the new ANSI standards. Choosing a floor like FGS may help in reducing insurance premiums. On the flip side, property owners whose floors are not certified as high-traction have to deal with higher insurance premiums. Once again, it all starts with the architects and spec writers...and travels downstream to the floor owners and FGS installers.
In an effort to reduce slip-and-fall claims and their related costs, many insurance companies have recommended that their customers use NFSI certified floor products and to have their floors audited at least once a year by an NFSI Certified walkway auditor. High-traction floors have been clinically proven to reduce slip-and-fall claims by as much as 90%."
JV: Russ, how does all of this effect the concrete industry and the people involved in building, design, and construction?
The BOT-3000 Universal Walkway Tester is the most advanced, easiest, and accurate traction testing machine.
RK: "The engineers, architects, specifiers, and FGS installers should be able to capitalize on this emerging safety trend. The insurance industry now has a clear measurement 'tool' and they have all kinds of actuarial charts for determining their rates. If you have a pit bull or trampoline or swimming pool in your back yard, your insurance rates will go up. The insurance industry actuarials understand how to Measure risks to raise or lower rates. This ANSI B-101.1standard can be used to reduce slip-and-fall claims and their related costs.
I would recommend that everyone responsible for specifying or installing floors consider taking the NFSI's certified walkway auditor training class. This four-day program will provide critical information about types of floor coverings, proper maintenance techniques and detailed information on the growing slip-and-fall problem.
The attendees will learn the step-by-step process of auditing a floor and will get a full day of hands-on training as it relates to using different slip meters. To attend a NFSI walkway auditor training class, FGS installers and other interested individuals can sign up at www.nfsi.org.
I believe that insurance underwriters will soon require that floors be audited per the ANSI/NFSI B101.1 standard BEFORE a floor owner's insurance premium is determined.
Testing a floor has never been easier. The BOT 3000 is the only device approved by the NFSI and is the most advanced floor testing device on the market. This robotic device is about the size of a shoebox and is easily portable. It does not require a high level of user training and is extremely accurate. After each test, the user has the option of recording the result from the devices LCD display or print it out. If the FGS installer chooses not to do the testing for themselves, they can recommend that their clients hire an NFSI Certified walkway auditor to do the test and a list of auditors is available on the NFSI's website. In the months and years to come, we'll see that trend in the insurance industry. It is why your FGS installers need to embrace this segment of the industry...they should be using it to their benefit with EVERY floor owner they make presentations to.
Your FGS installers, architects, specifiers and floor owners need to understand that the safety of floor systems and floor coverings has never been more important than it is today! Polished concrete is a great alternative to 'other' flooring materials that may not possess that high-traction capability. Professional concrete floor installers should communicate this concept to their prospective clients as they promote FGS/PermaShine floors. It holds true, not only in the architectural or design genre, but all the other segments like retail, restaurants, offices, manufacturing, industrial, schools, etc.
Safety will be a key buying factor when it comes to the selection of flooring materials. Those FGS installers who understand and embrace this concept will ultimately see their business grow, while those who don't will miss a tremendous opportunity ."
For more information about floor safety, go to www.nfsi.org
© 2011 L&M Construction Chemicals, Inc. | ConcreteNews Summer 2011.