Should Flooring Come with a Safety Warning?

The National Floor Safety Institute in America has petitioned the Consumer Product Safety Commission in order to make it mandatory for flooring manufacturers to label their products where there is a possibility of slips, falls and any injuries that could occur as a result.

Because of the dangers posed by floors, the NFSI feel that labels warning customers of the dangers are appropriate. Russ Kendizor, president of the NSFI said that “Slips and falls are one of the leading causes of injuries, of which 55 percent are caused by unsafe floors, however, when it comes to buying a floor, most consumers are in the dark and assume all floors are safe, only to find out that they are not once they are injured,”

Flawed Reasoning

Most injuries are not caused by well manufactured, fitted and maintained floors, but by damaged, uneven, poorly installed and wet floors, or floors that have cables or other foreign objects left unattended. A spokesperson for Mohawk Industries, a leading US flooring manufacturer resisted the notion of putting labels on their packaging. They said that wet and dry traction was “self evident” to consumers simply by running a hand over or walking on the floor. Eric Astrachan of the Tile Council of North America elaborated on that theme by stating that keeping the floor clean and dry would be quite sufficient to maintain an acceptable safety level.

Research has shown that flooring is distributed along three ranges, from high traction to low, and consumers are perfectly able to identify the difference when making their purchase and no amount of labelling would have an appreciable impact in buying habits.

Kendizor rebutted these arguments against labelling saying that “Running your fingers across a floor’s surface is not an accurate measurement of the product’s safety as it will be walked on. What we are asking is they make that information available via an easy-to-understand product label,”

However, what is not clear is how ‘easy to understand product labels’ will inform consumers about traction levels in a variety of wet, greasy, dusty, worn or damaged floors. Plus, any information given on packaging may lead to a false sense of safety given the almost infinite circumstances that you could find yourself in where a trip or slip was the result.

IB Flooring offer expert advice and professional service throughout the buying and fitting process. We will advise you on the best product for your needs and give you aftercare instructions to keep your floor at its best, and you safe, for years to come.