What Does Anti-Slip Tape Mean?
Anti-slip tape is a type of adhesive tape that is affixed to working surfaces (e.g., floors, stairs, ladders) to prevent workers from slipping and falling on those surfaces. It features a “grippable” surface that increases the coefficient of friction between the working surface and the sole of the worker’s footwear, which decreases the chance of slipping.
Anti-slip tape is primarily used in situations in which the risk of a slip or fall is significantly elevated or where a fall would be likely to cause a serious injury.
Anti-slip tape is often used on surfaces that are exposed to water, oil, or other substances that reduce friction. Different types of tape may be necessary depending on which substances (if any) are responsible for making the floor slipperier or what kind of work surface it will be adhered to.
Safeopedia Explains Anti-Slip Tape
Anti-slip tape is available in a variety of colors and patterns, which can serve different functions. For instance, brightly colored tape can help workers find a consistent foothold in a poorly lit stairwell.
Colored anti-slip tape can also be used by employers to help meet their floor marking and hazard identification obligations. Employers at warehouses and many other work settings are legally obligated to use color-coded floor markings to warn employees of specific hazards. For example, black and yellow striped anti-slip tape is commonly used to warn employees that an area presents a physical or health risk.
OSHA Slip Standards
In the United States, OSHA requirements that pertain to preventing slips and falls are covered by standard 1910.22 - Walking-Working Surfaces, as well as various fall protection standards.
The specific line that addresses the need for anti-slip provisions is 1910.22(d)(2): “Hazardous conditions on walkingworking [sic] surfaces are corrected or repaired before an employee uses the walking-working surface again.”
OSHA’s anti-slip standards are actively maintained and updated due to the significant risk associated with workplace falls. In 2016 these standards received a significant update via the publication of a new final rule titled “Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Protective Equipment (Fall Protection Surfaces).”
The new final rule, as well as the documentation surrounding it, clearly describes the need for employers to implement anti-slip surfaces wherever a hazard exists. OSHA estimates that 202,066 serious injuries (injuries resulting in lost work days) and 345 fatalities are caused by slips and falls each year in the United States. While some of these accidents happen solely due to human error, many occur due to the presence of what are collectively known as “slip, trip, and fall hazards.”
In addition to OSHA’s safety requirements, the use of anti-slip tape may be necessary for employers to adhere to other legal standards. For instance, the Americans with Disabilities Act requires that “Ground and floor surfaces along accessible routes and in accessible rooms and spaces including floors, walks, ramps, stairs, and curb ramps, shall be stable, firm, slip-resistant.” This rule also references OSHA’s own guidelines, which state that walking surfaces used by able-bodied persons should maintain a coefficient of friction of at least 0.5.
Anti-Slip Performance Standards
Requirements for the use of anti-slip tape and other anti-slip measures are set by what are known as “performance standards.” Performance standards are standards that do not explicitly outline what steps employers need to take in order to protect employees, but instead outline specifically what safe workplace conditions employers are expected to maintain.
The use of performance standards to enforce the use of anti-slip equipment is important due to the fact that the level of slip hazards can vary significantly depending on the setting. For example, a retail store located in an area that sees significant winter snows would have to deal with increased wet floor slip hazards every winter, and would thus face increased anti-slip obligations as a result.
The performance-based nature of anti-slip standards also means that most OHS standards do not specifically require the use of anti-slip tape so long as the slip hazard is addressed. For example, the Government of Ontario, Canada, refers to the need for “slip-resistant flooring and slip-resistant mats” and personal protective equipment (PPE); however, additional guidance documentation makes it clear that anti-slip tape can be used to meet this requirement.