Extract from the Human Rights Commission website: © Australian Human Rights Commission

ISSUE 12:
Floor surfaces

Importance of the feature

Often floor surfaces do not meet the slip resistant requirements making them hazardous for pedestrians to walk on, particularly people with mobility disabilities. Highly polished surfaces can indicate that the slip resistance rating has not been achieved, especially when people entering a building have wet feet.

 

Managers of buildings usually resort to the provision of a strip of carpet or a mat immediately inside the entry to dry soles of shoes before coming in contact with the floor surface. These mats can themselves become an access problem if not secure, particularly for people who are blind or vision impaired.

Often overhead concentrated down lighting will reflect upwards from a shiny floor surface into the eyes of people travelling across the floor. For a person with certain types of vision impairment this can have the effect of causing physical pain, in some cases a migraine headache.

Code requirements

The Building Code of Australia (BCA) does not specifically refer to slip resistance of flooring surfaces but under clause D3.3(a)(iii) generally refers to and requires compliance with AS1428.1.

AS 1428.1 sets out the criteria for types of surfaces traversable by people with disabilities and references AS4586 and HB197 for guidance on slip resistant surfaces.

Shopping centre floor
Photo 1

Achieving best results

To be effective flooring surface finishes must be within the testing criteria set out in AS4586 and HB197.

This is achieved by ensuring:

  • Materials used meet the slip resistance rating set down for each type of flooring material used.

While not addressed in the BCA good results are also achieved by ensuring finishes do not induce glare from overhead lighting.

Common problems and misinterpretations

1. Shining floor surfaces that do not meet the required slip resistance ratings

High shine floor surface

Photo 2

Shiny floor surface with mat

Photo 3

Shiny surface with strong glare

Photo 4

Shiny floor surface with mat

Photo 5

Photos 2 – 5 all show floors that may not meet the “R” ratings as required by AS4586 and HB197. Photos 3 and 5 both show mats placed inside the entrances to dry off wet soles of shoes before encountering the “Slippery” floor surface. These mats can themselves become trip hazards for people with mobility disabilities, blind people and people with vision impairment if not secure.

Photos 2, 3 and 4 show the glare arising from the overhead lighting. In the case of photo 4 the overhead lighting is quartz halogen that causes even worse glare.

Floor surface without excessive glare or slipperiness
Photo 6

Floor surface without glare or slipperiness
Photo 7

Photos 6 and 7 show floor coverings that are likely to meet the slip resistance requirements and do not produce excessive glare from overhead lighting.