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ALARP means reducing a risk to ‘As Low as Reasonably Practical’ and if you are a manager, owner or health and safety official, then you have a legal duty of care* to ensure your floors are safe to a value which is As Low As Reasonably Practical (ALARP)
But what if the value is 33 or 34; is it still a failure? Has the floor been laid to offer a slip resistance which is As Low As Reasonably Practical? Also known as ALARP. The text below discusses the ALARP principal and how when it is applied can be used as a substantive argument where required.
Many industries, and the HSE, use the ALARP principal, which means reducing a slip risk to ‘As Low as Reasonably Practical’ and involves assessing the statistics and weighing the risks against the trouble, time and money needed to control them.
Statistical figures are available for such topics as car and plane crashes but the science of determining what is safe in respect to slips on floors is not so straight forward; statistics are poor, people slip every day but unless they are hurt or die, then the incident is not ‘glamorous’, rarely even grazing the pages of a local newspaper and often left unrecorded. Statistical estimates that have been have evolved from scientific research and sometimes best judgement, using the published papers of doctors, scientists and Tribologists (the study of the science and engineering of interacting surfaces in relative motion).
Through research and study over decades the HSE and the HSL (UK Health and Safety Laboratories) and in conjunction with experts in tribology (study of slips on floors) has recommended that a slip risk figure of 1 in 1 million is an ALARP value that should be aimed at; and this value has been translated to Pendulum Test Value of 36 PTV (also known as SRV or Slip Resistance Value).
The slip risk table has evolved over time and is accepted and used by the HSE and UKSRG as a realistic determination of the probability of slip, The values were devised by Pye and Harrison; googling these names will turn up a plethora of information on the subject.
1 in 1,000,000 footfalls = Values between 0.36 & 0.40 COF (36 to 40 PTV)
1 in 100,000 footfalls = Values between 0.34 & 0.38 COF (34 to 38 PTV)
1 in 10,000 footfalls = Values between 0.29 & 0.34 COF (29 to 34 PTV)
1 in 200 footfalls = Values between 0.27 & 0.32 COF (27 to 32 PTV)
1 in 20 = Values between 0.24 & 0.29 COF (24 to 29 PTV)
Less than 1 in 20 footfalls = Values less than 0.24 COF (24 PTV)
Translating ALARP into a worked example
Take the example of an Airport where it’s determined 1 million people tread its floors every year.
The floor PTV (when Wet) is only 29PTV, which the HSE has determined relates to a chance of slip when wet of 1 in 10,000
In theory 1,000,000 divided by 10,000 means 100 people are likely to slip (and probably fall) every year. However, the floor has an excellent PTV of 80 when dry; the airport know their floor has possible issues but can’t afford the cost of new flooring but does makes every ‘reasonable and practical effort’ to prevent the floor becoming wet and clear up spills immediately thereby reducing the number of slips to a number which is ‘As Low As Reasonably Practical’ – i.e. ALARP.
However, If the floor is constantly getting wet through rain, snow, spilled drinks etc. and little effort is made to prevent this (such as entrance mats and good and prompt housekeeping) then 100 slips every year is likely to occur and would be wholly unacceptable.
Additional information on ALARP and Slip Probability
ALARP and slip risk probability is covered in various publications and further information can be found at the relevant Links below – Please be aware that hyperlinks have a tendency to change on the net and not work but Googling the relevant term should find you what you seek
Google ‘CIRIA (652) publication’
‘Safer Surfaces To Walk On – Reducing the Risk of Slipping’ ISBN 13: 978-
Google ‘HSE ALARP’
Google ‘FLOOR SLIP PROBABILITY’
Google ‘SAFER SURFACES TO WALK ON – REDUCING THE RISK OF SLIPPING’