Ramp Test vs Pendulum

It is not uncommon to find slip ratings on flooring products such as tiles and laminate. These are usually represented as R-values or Pendulum Test Values (PTV). Whilst many flooring professionals rely on R-values or PTV as a measure of slip resistance, these are commonly misunderstood. Following guidance by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and UK Slip Resistance Group (UKSRG), use of the Pendulum Tester is becoming increasingly prevalent due to its portability, cost-effectiveness and suitability on a wider range of flooring surfaces.

In this post we take a closer look at the Ramp test and Pendulum testing procedures, applications, benefits and disadvantages.

What is a Ramp Test?

The Ramp test involves an operator who is protected by a fall restraint harness. The operator, wearing standard footwear or barefoot (depending on the standard), walks backwards and forwards over a sample of a flooring material that has been evenly coated with a contaminant, Oil or soapy water depending on the standard. The Test starts with the ramp in a horizontal position; the operator gradually increases the angle of inclination until the limit of safe walking is reached and the test person “slips”. The acceptance angle obtained is used to express the degree of slip resistance (“R” value). The German ramp Test method is recognised worldwide (Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and the Ceramic Tile Institute of America (CTIOA)).

3 types of Test methods:

DIN 51130: A German standard that uses a cleated work boot and oil. A common problem is interpreting the data produced. It is presented as a scale running from R9 (the most slippery) to R13 (the least slippery). It is a common misconception that the scale starts at R1.

DIN 51097: A German standard that tests slip resistance of flooring in barefoot conditions using soapy water as a contaminant. Results are presented in a scale running from A (most slippery) to C (least slippery).

HSL ramp test: The HSL ramp test forms the basis for the British Standard (BS 4592) and uses footwear soled with slider 96 rubber and clean water as a contaminant. Results are presented as CoF (co-efficient of friction). A version of this test can be used to test footwear.

What is Pendulum Skid Resistance Testing?

Also known as the British Pendulum Tester, the Portable Skid Resistance Tester was originally designed in the 1940s to measure the slip resistance of floors in government buildings. During the late 1950s, the instrument was adopted and redesigned to study problems in the design and maintenance of public highways, and to test the frictional resistance of new roads, road markings and iron works.

Today, the Portable Skid Resistance Tester is regularly used to test the slip resistance of roads, pedestrian walkways, office surfaces, shopping malls floors, factories, airports and sports facilities – both at the design stage, after installation and to investigate accidents.

Test Methods:

Tests are carried out in accordance with a variety of different standards. These include: BS EN 13036-4, BS 7976-2, BS EN 1097-8, BS 812-114, ASTM E303, AS 4586 and AS 4663. The contaminant is commonly water and tests can be carried out In-situ.

Benefits of R Numbers:

Disadvantages of R values and ramp testing:

  • Ramp testing uses oil or soap as the contaminant, whereas water is more commonly implicated in slip accidents
  • Is mainly used when evaluating wet surfaces
  • Ramp tests are unsuitable for assessing the effectiveness of cleaning regimes or changes in the performance of the floor that may take place over time
  • The Ramp Test is laboratory based and cannot be carried out in-situ on flooring that has already been installed.
  • Interpretation of the R values isn’t straightforward. Each ‘R’ value contains a range of possible results making it difficult to ascertain how slippery a floor is.
  • Tests are expensive and must be carried out by a third party
  • German Ramp Test standard uses a cleated work boot and oil as the contaminant. If this is not representative of the area where the floor will be installed, the results may be misleading.

Benefits of Pendulum Skid Resistance tester and PTV (Pendulum tester Values):

  • The preferred test method of the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), the UK Slip Resistance Group (UKSRG) and the Tile Association in the UK.
  • Used extensively for Commercial projects
  • Provides results in both wet and dry conditions
  • Can be operated by one person
  • Can be used on already installed floors to assess the slip risk in situ and on small samples.
  • Can be used to assess the effects cleaning regimes have on surfaces
  • Contaminant doesn’t only have to be water – Can be any potential real-life contaminants
  • Instruments can be used by businesses internally.
  • Straight forward to use instrument after training has been completed.
  • Pendulum Testing is recognised in UK courts.
  • Depending on the type of rubber used, the pendulum tester can simulate a slipping shoe or foot sole.
  • The Pendulum Skid Tester is recognised worldwide.

Disadvantages of PTV and Pendulum Skid Testing:

  • Although the equipment is portable, it is on the heavy-side (12.5 kg).
  • Testing process can be time consuming – Long conditioning and verifying processes
  • Standards are not streamlined worldwide, there are various verification and test methods
  • Not widely recognised in United States of America
  • Instrument is an investment

Which is more cost effective?

The ramp test is a large fixed piece of equipment, used in a laboratory. It is a great piece of equipment that can be used to provide scientific information regarding how different types of flooring surfaces could perform with different types of footwear. ramp testing requires a sample of the flooring material to be tested in a laboratory setting. Therefore, ramp testing can typically only be used before a floor is laid,

Meanwhile, the Pendulum Tester is portable, and can be transported to carry out tests on-site with little disruption. This means pendulum slip tests are ideal for testing a variety of your premises’ existing flooring without the need to remove a sample to send it off for testing. The Pendulum can also be used to carry out internal product sample testing which can assist with R&D and offering better customer recommendations.

Overall the Pendulum tends to be much more cost effective. Due to the Ramp Test size, controlled laboratory conditions, and needed trained operators, the ramp test can often cost considerably more. Pendulum tests can also be the quicker option meaning they are ideal in legal situations where you need the results delivered promptly. Also, the HSE, UKSRG and TTA support, and recommend the Pendulum test method.

Munro instruments is a manufacturer of the Pendulum. If you would like further information on the Portable Skid Resistance Tester or Training, please get in touch: email (met@munro-group.co.uk) phone (+44 (0) 20 8551 7000).

Topps Tiles Case Study

Topps Tiles is one of UK’s leading tile specialist. For more than 50 years they have been supplying an outstanding range of tiles and associated products to create practical, affordable and timeless spaces.

To further improve services offered to customers, Topps Tiles has begun Pendulum slip testing their tiles in-house. This is to provide more accurate and reliable slip ratings on tiles highlighted as slip resistant. As a result, customers can be offered better recommendations, as it was reported they had become more “savvy” about slip resistance. Whilst tile aesthetics is a major consideration, customers also want to know the tiles’ slip ratings for safety reasons, especially when tiles are to be installed in wet rooms or outdoors.

Originally, Topps Tiles rated tiles using Ramp test values that were generated by their factory suppliers. Ramp Testing has two test methods: one barefoot and the contaminant is soapy water, and the other rubber soled boots and the contaminant is engine oil. The ramp test involves a ramp covered with the sample surface being inclined a degree at a time until the operator walking on the ramp slips. Based on the angle of slip, an “ABC” rating is given for the tile. The ramp test method is a recognised method of testing slip resistance, but, it is not suitable for evaluating dry surfaces, assessing the effectiveness of cleaning regimes, and it cannot be used to test already installed floor tiling. Topps Tiles considered the Pendulum Skid Resistance tester as an alternative test method, because it can record results for test surfaces in wet and dry environments and simulate both footwear and barefoot heel strikes. The Pendulum can use any contaminant, most commonly water, replicating the conditions most often found in customer’s homes. Using “R” values and “ABC” ratings is also at odds with the fact that the Pendulum Tester is the instrument of choice of the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and UK Slip Resistance Group (UKSRG).

After contacting Munro Instruments, through our website, Topps Tiles purchased an Intelligent Pendulum, Accessories (rubber sliders, verification and conditioning surfaces, Aluminium Sample Holder and Flight case) and full training for 5 people. Thanks to the informative training and after-sales support from Munro Instruments, Topps Tiles now tests tiles in-house without having to rely on suppliers’ test reports. This gives them peace of mind and confidence when marking tiles as slip resistant, helping to reassure customers, reduce accident rates, comply with health and safety regulations, improve claims defensibility and monitor supplier product quality.

This has resulted in Topps Tiles removing “R” ratings from their product descriptions and relying instead on Pendulum Test Values (PTV). Being able to carry out their own testing has led to an improved service to their commercial clients, who often specifically request tile test certificates. Topps Tiles can also now investigate improving and re-engineering their products to make them more slip resistant.

Topps Tiles new approach on their website and in stores involves explicitly marking which tiles are slip resistant. This makes it easier for customers to make an informed choice. All ratings are based on traceable test results, and clear, easy-to-understand icons are used to identify tiles: Low Slip Resistance PTV 0-24, Moderate Slip resistance PTV 25-35, High Slip resistance PTV 36+. Tiles for a wet barefoot area have a “Suitable for Wet Areas” icon and are classified as High Slip Resistance Barefoot PTV 36+.

Munro Instruments has supported Topps Tiles in understanding how the Pendulum works, assisted with any practical issues and gladly share our expert knowledge of the slip industry. Topps Tiles’ goal of understanding slip resistance and offering better recommendations to savvy customers has been achieved. As well as the classification icons, in-depth knowledge of slip resistance has been spread throughout Topps Tiles’ staff so much so that every store colleague across their retail business can explain to customers what Pendulum testing is, how the results can be interpreted and why they moved away from “R” Values.

If you would like further information on what a Portable Skid Resistance Tester is, or Training, please get in touch: E (met@munro-group.co.uk) or T (+44 (0) 20 8551 7000).