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Critical product testing for 2021 Uniform Swimming Pool, Spa, and Hot Tub Slip Resistance Code

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Tile Council of North America (TCNA) announced last year the formal approval of specific and measurable walkway safety criteria for swimming pools, spas, and hot tubs by the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO). The 2021 Uniform Swimming Pool, Spa, & Hot Tub Code (USPSHTC) establishes for the first time, measurable criteria (and a required test method) for suitably slip-resistant surfaces around pools, spas, and hot tubs.

The USPSHTC Slip Resistance Task Group led by Bill Griese, TCNA’s Director of Standards Development and Sustainability Initiatives, developed improvements to the code language, which went through a public comment period last fall and has now been approved by IAPMO’s Swimming Pool, Spa, and Hot Tub Technical Committee to be part of the USPSHTC.

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“IAPMO’s decision to incorporate the recommended code language provides code officials, inspectors, and specifiers, among others, with model code criteria they have not had before to appropriately assess walkway surfaces that are intended to be slip-resistant,” stated Griese. “It’s important for owners and specifiers to be aware of these criteria in order to properly specify and maintain flooring, which can help keep people safe.”
The new code for slip-resistant walkway surfaces includes:
The German Ramp Test, a widely-recognized international standard, evaluates product slip resistance with humans on an inclined plane. This test has not been commercially available in the U.S., but the TCNA Product Performance Testing Laboratory now offers it for design professionals.
  • A required wet dynamic coefficient of friction (DCOF) value of no less than 0.42, for level walkway surfaces intended to be walked upon when wet, as determined in accordance with the current ANSI A326.3 standardized test method.
  • A corrected minimum DCOF requirement for inclined/sloped walkways, which require greater available friction to prevent slipping.
  • Guidance for testing on three-dimensionally patterned or profiled walkways.
  • An appendix providing additional information regarding the determination of DCOF values for hard surface walkways intended to be slip-resistant.
For three-dimensional or textured surfaces, the code notes that testing shall be conducted on a nominally flat section of such walkways. Where that is not possible, the code states that the specifier must provide documentation substantiating their product choice.  To address this requirement of the code, TCNA recommends a widely-recognized international standard (DIN 51130) for testing product slip resistance with human subjects on an inclined plane – commonly referred to as the “German Ramp” test. Until now, this testing has not been commercially available in the U.S. “TCNA’s Product Performance Testing Laboratory is a leader in U.S.-based slip resistance testing and research through our work with standards developers, manufacturers, specifiers, distributors, and design professionals,” said TCNA’s Director of Laboratory Services, Katelyn Simpson. “Drawing upon decades of experience with our German Ramp, we are pleased to now offer this testing to others in response to the needs of design professionals. We look forward to working with the IAPMO Technical Committee in future code cycles and will continue to expand testing capabilities as new code language, standards, and methodologies are developed.” To order product testing according to ANSI A326.3, DIN 51130, or other slip resistance test methodologies, or to discuss custom testing and research, contact TCNA or call 864-646-8453.
For more information on the new code, consult the complete USPSHTC Slip Resistance Task Group report at IAPMO.org.