Did you know that the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI) have combined their expertise to formally define safety regulations with respect to commercial entrance matting? To help make the regulations easier to meet, they have also developed standards to simplify processes for facility managers. This ANSI/NFSI B101.6-2012 “Standard Guide For Commercial Entrance Matting In Reducing Slips, Trips And Falls” can be broken down into three areas:
The purpose of the matting safety standard is to exactly define floor safety problems in commercial buildings and “to eliminate slip, trip and fall hazards including but not limited to soil, moisture, contaminant removal, edge treatments and the improper use of floor mats and runners.”
The scope of the standards establishes “the criteria for the selection, installation, inspection, care and maintenance of mats and runners in commercial facilities.”
And finally, the requirements for application of the standards “pertain to the safe usage and applications, design, construction and quality criteria of floor mats and runners.”
Safety regulations are important because they help clearly define what a commercial building operator is responsible for, and how much risk and responsibility can be safely transferred to a building’s users and occupants. That’s why these safety standards define specific terms related to entrance matting such as “buckling”, “curling”, and “rippling.” The different types of entrance matting is also defined in the standard, including “wiper mats”, “wiper-scraper mats”, “scraper mats”, “recessed well mats”, and “foot grilles”.
In addition to defining terms that might not be obvious to the layperson, the safety standard is broken down into sections, with each section focusing on a particular element of floor safety. For example, Section 3 specifically addresses entrance mat backings and their ability to prevent movement while in service on a floor. This standard is important to overall matting safety because mat migration (movement) is a leading cause of trip and fall injuries. Section 3 recommends that entrance mats have a “high-traction backing,” which is referenced in the NFSI 101-C “Test Method for Measuring Dry Transitional Coefficient of Friction (TCOF) of Floor Mat Backing Materials.” This is currently the only nationally recognized standard by which to measure the slip resistant qualities of floor mat backing. It was developed because mats that do not have a high-traction backing are more prone to movement, which in-turn can increase the risk of migration, buckling, and curling.
Section 5 of the standard outlines the criteria involved in the proper selection of matting, specifically in relation to its appropriate placement and intended purpose. This section also defines four distinct areas where mats are recommended: outdoor entrance areas, entrance vestibules, indoor locations throughout the building, and other specialty or transitional areas like pools, kitchens, and garages. When used in building exteriors, safety regulations stress that matting should be installed in a recessed well, or should be a scraper or a wiper-scraper mat.
It’s also important to keep in mind that the matting selection guides for interior vestibules contained within the standard assumes that building operators are also using supplemental outdoor matting.
For example, when a scraper mat is used outdoors, the matting in the vestibule should be a wiper-scraper or wiper only mat. However, when a scraper mat is not used outdoors, the vestibule matting should be either scraper only or wiper-scraper. Wiper mats should then be deployed inside the building itself. A wiper or scraper/wiper should always be the second mat at the entrance.
Once you’ve considered the type of matting, the next order of business is to consider the location of your matting. The standard emphasizes that it is responsibility of the property manager to “identify areas within the facility where there exists a potential hazard for slips, trips, or falls, and validate the level of potential hazard through the use of B101 standardized wet coefficient of friction measurements.” The NFSI has published a series of methods whereby property managers can test their floors to ensure they are appropriate for use with floor matting, and to ensure that they have placed floor matting everywhere that they should for safety purposes. Installing entrance matting on an inappropriate floor can cause more harm than good. Many slip-and-fall events occur as the result of “surfboarding” across a wet floor, therefore emphasizing the importance of ensuring mats are used correctly and the floor underneath the mat is clean and dry.
Testing floors, providing measurements and identifying problem areas is important to comply with safety regulations. The standard states that facility managers must provide “careful review of measurement results indicating a hazard potential — specifically due to the involuntary presence of grit, moisture, or dust.” Management must place mats in those areas.