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May/June 2011

Slip Properties

Tribometers are used to assess the potential of humans to slip while walking on various surfaces. A new ASTM International test method will be used to provide a reference standard against which to validate and calibrate the performance of tribometers.

F2508, Practice for Validation and Calibration of Walkway Tribometers Using Reference Surfaces, has been developed by Subcommittee F13.10 on Traction, part of ASTM International Committee F13 on Pedestrian/Walkway Safety and Footwear.

“The impetus for the development of F2508 was the realization that the building, flooring, footwear and safety industries were using multiple types of walkway tribometers to evaluate walkway and shoe slip resistance, and obtaining dissimilar results with no way of assessing tribometer performance characteristics,” says John Brault, biomechanics consultant and president, Semper Scientific, and a member of F13.

According to Brault, F2508 defines four reference surfaces, from very slippery to not slippery, that offer a continuum of slip potential while walking. A tribometer manufacturer can use the test method, along with reference materials available as adjuncts to the standard, to validate that its tribometer properly ranks the slip resistance of the reference surfaces from most to least slippery, with significantly different values for each surface.

“F2508 will provide the foundation for the development of test methods to establish basic requirements for accuracy, reproducibility and reporting of different classifications of tribometers under various environmental and experimental conditions, including field calibration,” says Brault. “Harmonization with other types of tribometers that measure roadway slip resistance, for example, might make sense.”

All interested parties are welcome to join in the activities of F13.10.


Technical Information: John Brault, Semper Scientific, Mission Viejo, Calif.

Phone: 949-291-4015

ASTM Staff: Leonard Morrissey

Phone: 610-832-9719