17 Jul 2017

Aluminum Bleachers Require Slip Resistance Testing Which Is Critical To Preventing Accidental Slips and Falls

aluminum bleachers slip resistance

Be sure to check the slip resistance rating or SCOF when choosing aluminum bleachers.

By Gerald Dlubula

Aluminum bleachers, like many other structures, contain the potential to cause accidental slips, trips, and falls.

Proper slip resistance testing of the bleacher walking platforms and stair treads will minimize this potential, giving bleacher users the safe, worry-free place to gather and watch the game or event that they deserve.

Every year in the US, over 20,000 deaths are blamed on walking surfaces that are uneven, wet, or covered with unsuitable materials.

That statistic means that slips, trips, and falls are second only to motor vehicle accidents when it comes to accidental deaths.

While aluminum bleachers are the most popular form of outdoor seating for large venues and stadiums, they are also subject to extreme, varied, and changing environmental conditions like rain, snow, and sleet. This causes the flat areas, like walkways and stairways, to get wet, leading to a potentially slick and hazardous condition.

Because of staggering statistics like those stated above, proactive safety standards in slip resistance testing, designed to help identify the potential problem areas are of the utmost importance.

Aluminum Bleachers And The Need For Testing Slip Resistance

Liability and Risk.

They’re common terms in todays world, and if you own, manage, are in-charge or responsible for a stadium, arena, multi-purpose venue or gathering place that includes bleacher seating, you are more than aware of the safety precautions needed when hosting a large number of patrons for events.

Current laws are pretty clear when it comes to public safety. Companies and institutions have a duty to provide reasonably safe premises for their employees, patrons, and visitors to their sites.

aluminum bleachers side view

Be sure to check the slip resistance rating for walkways on aluminum bleachers as these outdoor structures are constantly subject to rain, ice and liquid spills.

Failure to provide this will most certainly end up in a court situation revolving around your civil, or possibly criminal liabilities.

Authorized slip resistant testing is critical for assessment of the potential dangers, risks, and compliance (including ADA), on the stairs, walking areas and platforms of bleachers, and it will ultimately keep you from being negligent in your civil safety duties.

According to the National Floor Safety Institute, a 501(c)(3) non-for-profit organization founded in 1997, slips, trips, and falls cause around 8 million accidents a year, leading to 25000 deaths, and are, in fact, the leading cause of death for the elderly.

A majority of these slips and falls, 55%, are blamed on the conditions of the walking surfaces, leading the NFSI to come up with a scientific based, uniform, measurable way to determine slip resistance of walking surfaces, labeling it the Static Coefficient of Friction, or SCOF.

The SCOF is defined as “the amount of required pressure between two surfaces to prevent slippage”.

We know that the more friction that is present in a given situation, the harder it is for the objects to move or slide against one another. So the higher the SCOF rating of a given walking surface, the more friction there is present, which translates to more grip, traction, and slip resistance.

When applied to aluminum bleacher components, meaning the walkways, stair treads, and seat boards, which tend to get used as walkways themselves, the SCOF will give you the probability of slips, trips and falls. The higher the SCOF rating, the less likely it will be that an accident or injury will occur due to an unexpected slip, leading to a trip or fall.

SCOF testing works using highly technical, scientifically designed and calibrated instruments, which are a long way from the original “throw a bean bag on it and see how far it slides or skids.”

The testing apparatus used by the NFSI performs one of our most basic maneuvers, mimicking the heel strike and position of a person while walking. It’s called a variable incidence tribometer, and is specifically made for testing wet surfaces for slip resistance. The tribometer mimics the precise angle and velocity of the human foot and walking pattern, replicating what happens when the foot and heel hit the wet surface. The tribometer also will replicate a foot slip, and the consequences, should the conditions and foot angle be right to cause one.

NFSI Standards And Ratings

The ratings for the Static Coefficient of Friction (SCOF) measurements have been broken down to fit into three basic categories, in accordance with (ANSI) B101.1-2009 Standard.

  • High Traction SCOF. With measured slip resistance of 0.60 or greater, a walking surface will be classified as High Traction, meaning they will provide the greatest resistance to, or least risk of, accidental slips, trips, and falls. Depending on the rating, you can sometimes reduce the risk up to 90%.
  • Moderate Traction SCOF. Tested results between 0.40 and 0.59 will earn your walking surfaces a rating of Moderate Traction. With a slightly higher risk of accidental slips, trips, or falls, this rating is generally acceptable when considering slip resistant walkways.
  • Low Traction SCOF. When receiving a slip resistant rating below 0.40, it is an immediate red flag, designating the walking surface as Low Traction and at the highest risk for accidental slips, trips, and falls. Any walking area receiving a Low Traction rating requires immediate action to identify and correct the resistance issues. Retesting must, at minimum, raise the SCOF rating to 0.40.

Be sure to purchase aluminum bleachers from a reputable supplier that can provide a SCOF rating and consider “high traction” ratings when choosing a product.

When your bleachers are receiving their annual safety inspection, make a note to have the walking surfaces tested for slip resistance by authorized personnel. Exterior aluminum bleachers are exposed daily to the changing elements. They are then used over and over, sometimes while still wet and potentially slick from rain, dew or snow.

Muddy, wet, or sandy conditions will have these elements transferred onto the bleacher walking areas.

With concessions available, there may be spills to be aware of, or the walking surfaces may have changed or gotten worn in some heavily traveled areas, affecting their SCOF factor and increasing the risk of accidental injury.

By developing and following a proactive inspection plan, including a slip resistance testing, you will have a proven, systematic way to identify, evaluate, and eliminate the potential for slips, trips and falls on your aluminum bleachers.







About the Author

2 Responses to Aluminum Bleachers Require Slip Resistance Testing Which Is Critical To Preventing Accidental Slips and Falls
  1. how do you repair an area that is slippery?

    • Give us a call at 877-960-0568 and we’ll see if we can get you an answer from our crew. It might be smarter just to replace the planks.


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