Coefficient of Friction – Why You Need it for Safe Floors

Coefficient of Friction – Why You Need it for Safe Floors

If you own a business that doesn’t involve heavy machinery and specialty training, you probably haven’t thought twice about the safety of your employees in the office. However, contrary to popular belief, even office workers, who work within the confines of a cubicle or desk, are susceptible to injuries in the workplace. 

According to statistics, there are around 3 million non-fatal workplace injuries reported in a single year across the United States. 27% of this daunting statistic was related to slips, falls, and trips. Of that 27%, around 200,000 cases are severe enough to warrant time off of work. Interestingly, office workers are twice as likely to suffer from injuries resulting from a fall than non-office workers.  

As with any other altercation within the confines of your operations, it is your responsibility to keep the office a safe haven for your workers. They are, after all, your biggest and most important investments. 

Maintaining your floors and keeping slips and falls to a minimum should be a priority. Unbeknownst to many, determining how safe a specific surface involves more math and science than you think. Knowing the coefficient of friction in every type of flooring within your designated work area is key to protecting not only your employees but your business as well 

What is Coefficient of Friction?

The coefficient of friction, otherwise known as measurement of COF, is a method regulatory agencies use to gauge the slip resistance of a surface. It is a common measure that determines the ratio between the force that causes things to slide on a specific surface and the load or weight that pushes the two surfaces together. In the case of office flooring, the COF involves the ratio of force between a person’s foot and the floor. 

How to Measure for Coefficient of Friction?

There are portable test meters that measure the coefficient of friction. Nevertheless, it isn’t difficult to compute this measurement manually. 

One popular way to determine the COF of a surface is conducted through a leather shoe and a fifty-pound weight. The weight is placed inside the shoe and is dragged across the flat surface using a spring or a scale to measure its force. The total force is divided by the weight of the shoe. 

The recommended COF depends on your location. However, the OSHA threshold is at 0.5 while the NFSI and ANSI is at 0.6.

Guidelines for Preventing Slips and Falls in the Office 

Making sure the COF of your office floors is within the OSHA guidelines is a good first step in protecting your employees from slips and falls. Nevertheless, regardless if you have clean marble floors or trendy hardwood office flooring, there are supplemental steps that you can take to fortify your office surface. 

Develop a Sustainable Floor Maintenance Routine

Especially during these trying times, it can be easy to forgo the maintenance of your office floors. For one, the pandemic has probably affected your income stream. At this point, we bet your focus is to increase sales. Moreover, there is a good chance most of your employees are working remotely. 

Nevertheless, office cleaning costs pay for themselves. Maintaining your floors and having a housekeeping routine in your workplace can prevent additional expenses in the form of a lawsuit. Daily cleaning doesn’t have to be complex. A small maintenance crew that goes over the entire office twice a day should be enough. 

Reduce Wet Surfaces

Again, 27% of reported workplace injuries are directly related to slippery surfaces. Something as simple as minimizing wet areas within the office can already have a drastic effect on the number of reported incidents. 

Indoors make sure that any spills are mopped off. Provide cleaning materials if necessary. If you have a parking lot, be diligent about treating snow to prevent accidents. 

Keep Walkways Clear

Similar to reducing wet surfaces, ensuring that pathways are clear from obstruction is a relatively simple way to reduce the number of accidents in your office– especially if you allow pets in the office, make sure you always clean up after your pets. It might seem like a no-brainer but more often than not offices are filled to the brim with equipment and files. Being mindful about your operation’s storage option as well as proper cable management can mitigate the number of injuries. 

Provide Ample Lighting 

Poor office lighting can lead to accidents. After all, it can be difficult to navigate through an office if you can’t see the floors. Make sure that all passageways are well-lit and clean. If you have room in your budget, you can also opt to illuminate switches so your employees can locate them easily.  

Best Coatings to Prevent Injuries: Urethane vs Acrylic Flooring 

Truth be told, not all types of flooring are created equal as far as safety is concerned. Fortifying your office flooring with an anti-slip coating can give your employees an extra layer of protection. Arguably, urethane and acrylic are your best options. 

Price Tag 

When it comes to floor coating, acrylic is without a doubt the cheaper option. Depending on your contractor, this option costs around  $.50-$.80/square foot. In comparison, while urethane lasts ten times longer, the upfront cost is almost double at $1 – $1.50 depending on the size of your office. 

Cleaning and Maintenance 

Both acrylic and urethane floor coatings are relatively easy to maintain and clean on a daily basis. Nevertheless, it requires a little bit more elbow grease and specific chemicals to keep acrylic floors in tiptop shape. 

Overall Safety 

Again, urethane floors are expensive but they are expensive for a reason. Choosing an acrylic coating can give your office floors enough traction. However, overall, this type of coating provides better traction and is more anti-slip than acrylic. Moreover, urethane floors can be further fortified with more traction. You may also opt for carpets which have always prevented slips. 

But always remember that accidents happen. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t preventative things that you can put in place in order to mitigate the effect of these unforeseen circumstances. The guidelines above can help you navigate through the coefficient of friction and protecting your employees from the possibility of slips and falls.