Concreate, Inc. delivers concrete polishing and custom staining for both commercial and residential projects primarily in Virginia and Maryland (but also up and down the East Coast). We work hand in hand with with designers, architects, project managers, general contractors, tradesmen, and home owners alike from start to finish. We welcome the opportunity to serve your polished concrete needs in every way possible.

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Stepping Up Your Safety: An Expert Guide to Measuring Traction in Concrete Surfaces

Stepping Up Your Safety: An Expert Guide to Measuring Traction in Concrete Surfaces

A representation of a slip-and-fall accident due to lack of traction in concrete.

Traction is a vital concern with any floor. Nobody wants to slip and fall on any surface, especially not concrete! But how do you calculate these numbers? Here’s how to do it like a pro!

Key Takeaways:

  • Traction can only be accurately measured under specific test conditions
  • OSHA, the ADA, and ASTM specifications all have standards for traction and slip resistance
  • Traction can be improved on concrete floors through processes like polishing or exposed aggregates

When it comes to traction and safety on concrete floors, you want to ensure that your surfaces measure up. The traction properties of concrete slabs in your property must be up to code for safety reasons and compliance with OSHA and ADA regulations. 

Slipping and falling on any surface, especially concrete, is never ideal and can cause serious harm or damage. Lawsuits, insurance claims, and injuries are risks that can be avoided if you measure the traction properties in your property correctly.

While measuring traction in concrete may seem like a technical concept, it’s relatively straightforward. The traction properties of concrete slabs are measured by calculating their traction force and slip resistance. They can be defined as the coefficient of direct contact. 

The good news? It’s an easy process for the pros, and we’re here to provide a simplified guide on how it’s done. Continue reading for a list of all the relevant numbers that must be considered.

Why traction matters

Safety is the primary priority when it comes to traction in concrete. Traction protects against slips, trips, falls, and other safety hazards on the property. It provides a firm grip on the surface and makes workers, visitors, and customers feel secure while walking on or around concrete floors. It also helps prevent damage since traction can reduce the risk of marking and scuffing on concrete floors.

From a legal standpoint, traction in concrete is determined by OSHA and ADA regulations. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets standards for traction in public places, requiring traction in wet and dry conditions to meet specific criteria. 

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) also requires traction on concrete surfaces, especially ramps, to ensure that those with disabilities have easy access to public areas. Noncompliance with traction standards can lead to hefty fines, lawsuits, and other legal repercussions.

Traction in polished concrete also enhances aesthetics since traction can reduce staining and markings on the floors. This keeps polished concrete looking pristine for longer and maintains its ultra-sleek appearance. Dust and dirt also have fewer chances to stick on traction-boosted surfaces. 

How to measure traction in concrete

To measure traction in concrete, you’ll need to check your concrete slabs’ traction force and resistance. Traction (or tractive) force is the force required to overcome friction and cause movement on the surface. It’s measured as a coefficient of traction, with OSHA requiring at least a 0.5 COF rating under both wet and dry conditions. 

ADA recommends 0.6 for level surfaces and 0.8 for ramps. You can measure traction with a traction tester, which uses a spring-loaded footplate to measure traction on a scale of 0 to 1. It has a built-in indicator that displays traction ratings in real-time.

Slip resistance measures how slippery a surface is and is denoted as the static coefficient of friction (SCOF). This is done by examining the properties of the materials used to treat concrete, such as traction-increasing additives like quartz or ceramic beads, and the traction-enhancing effects of surface treatments such as hydroblasting, steel shot blasting, and grinding.

Tribometers are the most widely used slip resistance-testing devices and work by rubbing a sole against the treated surface. However, the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI) recommends the BOT-3000, as it can easily measure the SCOF and DCOF (dynamic friction) in both wet and dry conditions. The passing slip resistance criteria are 0.5 SCOF. Polished concrete floors have a COF of 0.65, which surpasses OSHA standards, ensuring safety, durability, and aesthetics.

When measuring traction in concrete, consider factors such as the composition of the concrete itself, the type of traction treatment used and its wear resistance (especially for polished concrete), the accessories that come with traction treatments, and the humidity levels in your environment. 

Regularly inspect traction

Over time, traction in concrete can wear out due to heavy foot traffic, equipment, dropping objects, and other abrasive activities. Regular traction inspections ensure your concrete slabs meet the necessary safety standards. Inspect your traction every 3–6 months. 

Check for any signs of wear and tear, such as abrasions, cracks, and dents. These can compromise traction and should be addressed promptly. If traction is slipping below the floor’s traction rating, you should consider re-treating the floors with traction-enhancing additives or surface treatments. 

Aluminum oxide, polymer grit, and silica dust have excellent traction-enhancing properties. You can sprinkle the enhancers directly onto the floor or mix them with sealants and primers. Concrete polishing and grinding are also effective traction-boosting treatments. The exposed aggregates offer better traction than un-ground concrete surfaces.

Common sense safety tips for maintaining traction

While traction-enhancing treatments and traction tests are necessary, basic common sense can go a long way in keeping traction levels high. Here are some simple tips you can use to maintain traction:

  • Keep walkways clear of debris and clutter: Slippery surfaces can develop anywhere. Ensure walkways and other areas are free of leaves, dirt, mud, oil, and other materials to reduce the risk of slip-and-fall accidents.
  • Provide traction mats at entrances, hallways, and other high-traffic areas: Traction mats add an extra safety layer and help keep walkways clean, dry, and safe. Choose from vinyl or rubber mats to complement any décor.
  • Regularly inspect traction levels: Tractive force can wear down over time, so regular traction inspections are necessary to ensure the levels remain high.

Following these expert tips can help create a safer working environment and reduce the risk of slip-and-fall accidents. With traction-enhancing treatments, traction tests, and common sense, you can easily step up your traction levels and ensure a safer concrete floor for everyone. 

Calculate your traction levels with the pros

While you can calculate traction levels independently, it’s best to leave it to the pros. Professional traction tests are accurate and reliable and can help identify traction-related problems before they become an issue.

The concrete pros at Concreate know their craft and can easily measure traction levels onsite using highly accurate traction testing equipment, ensuring the levels are up to OSHA and ADA standards. 

With our expertise, we will assess your traction levels, develop traction-enhancing treatments, and provide regular traction inspections to ensure your concrete floors are safe and comply with regulations. Visit thisisconcrete.com today, and let the experts step up your traction levels for better safety.