Every year, thousands of people in North America are injured as a result of a slip and fall accident when entering a commercial building? While high-quality entrance matting can play a significant role in preventing accidental slips by removing moisture from pedestrian footwear, undersized or poor-quality matting often contributes to trips and falls when it buckles, curls, or is flipped over.
In 2012, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) B101 committee on Slip, Trip and Fall Prevention released an updated set of walkway safety standards: the ANSI/NFSI B101.6-2012 “Standard Guide For Commercial Entrance Matting In Reducing Slips, Trips And Falls.” This standard provides criteria for the selection, installation, inspection, care and maintenance of entrance mats and runners in commercial facilities, with the goal of reducing slips, trips and falls. Many of these accidents can be attributed to slip, trip and fall hazards such as loose soil and sand, puddled moisture, un-flush edges, and the misapplication of entrance mats and floor runners.
The development of ANSI/NFSI B101.6 Standard is a direct result of the need to reduce the growing number of easily-preventable slips and falls due to improper use of mats and runners in commercial establishments. The Chairman of the ANSI B101.6 sub-committee has this to say: “This standard not only covers where and how mats should be deployed, but also identifies the hazards associated with improper mat placement and use. We also believe that the standard will soon be adopted by the insurance industry and will serve as an important tool in preventing their insured’s growing mat related trip-and-fall problem.”
As trip-and-fall lawsuits continue to be brought to court, this new standard has helped to define a commercial operator’s responsibilities for the safety and well-being of the general public. The ANSI/NFSI B101.6 Standard clearly explains the industry standard of care for the proper use, maintenance, and frequency of inspection for entrance matting and will affect the way building owners should maintain, inspect, and select entrance way floor mats.
What’s in the Standard?
ANSI/NFSI B101.6-2012 describes the “criteria for the selection, installation, inspection, care and maintenance of entrance mats and runners in commercial facilities in reducing slips, trips and falls and pertains to the safe usage and applications, design, construction, and quality criteria of floor mats and runners.”
Section 3 of the standard addresses mat backings and their ability to prevent movement while placed on the floor. It is recommended that mats have a “High-Traction Backing”, such as a heavy-duty textured vinyl or a non-slip rubberized backing. Mats that do not have a high-traction backing are less stable and more susceptible to moving while in service, which increases the risk of buckling and edge curling which can greatly contribute to a slip, trip and fall event.
Section 5 of the standard discusses the proper selection of matting as it relates to their placement and its intended purpose and defines four distinct areas including: outdoor areas, vestibules, indoor areas, and other areas. When matting is located outside a building, mats should either be a recessed mat, a scraper mat, or a wiper-scraper mat which can either be loose-laid or permanently installed within a recessed well. Its also important to note that the standard states that matting selection for interior vestibules is based on the use of outdoor matting and that when a scraper mat is used outdoors, then the matting in the vestibule shall be a wiper-scraper or drying mat. However, when a scraper mat is not used outdoors, the vestibule matting shall be either scraper only or wiper-scraper.When a scraper is used outdoors, the matting indoors shall be a wiper-scraper or a wiper mat. When no scraper mat is used outdoors, the indoor matting shall both scrape and dry. Wiper mats shall be the second mat at the entrance.
The standard further discusses the responsibility of the property owner or manager to “identify areas within their 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 COF measurements.” The NFSI has published a series of test methods whereby the property owner can test their floors to ensure they are appropriate for use with floor matting. Many slip and fall events occur as the result of “surfboarding” across a wet floor therefore making it important to ensure that the floor underneath the entrance matting is clean and dry. The standard states that is important that property owners and managers provide “careful review of measurement results indicates a hazard potential, specifically due to the involuntary presence of grit, moisture, or dust, management shall place mats in those areas.”
Section 6 states that “[t]he facility management shall both select the proper matting and have sufficient matting in place”. This section defines the “Adequacy of Matting” as “[t]he governing factor in determining the adequacy of matting shall be the amount of soil removal. The flooring immediately following the matting shall be examined to confirm that the soil and moisture has been removed. If it hasn’t, either more matting or the proper selection of matting needs to be employed.”
According to a recent white paper prepared by the Windsor Company, a typical 6 foot long entrance mat will only remove 40% of soil and moisture and that it takes approximately 36 feet of matting to remove 99% of soil and moisture.
Sections 7 and 8 address the proper care and maintenance of entrance matting, while also providing guidelines to reduce new hazards created by improper entrance matting deployment. These sections specify that “[m]ats shall not be used in any manner other than their intended purpose” and that “[w]hen mats ripple, curl or have torn edges the mats shall be removed from service and replaced with mats that lay flat and that if a mat buckles, either the condition that caused the mat to buckle shall be corrected or the mat shall be secured or removed from service and replaced.” The standard further requires that “Mats shall be installed on a clean, dry floor and that they shall be placed as to not overlap each other. Where mats do not lie flat, the mat shall be secured to the floor so that it lies flat or removed from service. Areas where mat migration may take place shall be monitored and the hazard corrected.” As most commercial buildings have entrances larger than standard 3×10 or 4×6 mats can cover adequately, it’s easy to see why customized mats are a necessity, not a luxury.
The amount of matting to remove the soil is not static or fixed. During inclement weather, additional matting should be utilized to supplement the dry weather matting, or the frequency of maintenance should be increased in proportion to the weather conditions (i.e. frequent wet/dry vacuuming to restore the matting to full absorptive capacity.) The use of larger mats whenever possible decreases the likelihood of mat migration due to the greater mass of the larger mats.
Property owners, facility managers, and business owners are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the new ANSI/NFSI B101.6-2012 standard. For more information or to download a copy, please visit the National Floor Safety Institute’s website at: www.nfsi.org/ansi_b101_6.php