The UK’s independent authority on slip resistance

Slips, Trips and Falls 2017

The 2-day international conference was hosted by iDAPT Centre for Rehabilitation Research, Toronto and the University of Toronto; iDAPT’s Alison Novak and Yue Li put the agenda together ensuring a highly informative and entertaining couple of days. As in London, the main event also benefited from the attendance of a range of suppliers in the space around the main auditorium.

The key themes of the conference included:

  • Measurement Principles and Technology
  • Human & Behavioural Factors
  • The role of Architectural Design
  • Cleaning
  • Footwear
  • National and International Safety Standards

There were a series of presentations, workshops and panel discussions, aimed at informing Risk and Safety Managers, Architects, Designers and Specifiers as well as ergonomists and Safety Professionals, about the importance of slip-resistance and design in reducing the risk of falls.

As in London 2016, this conference also focused on perennial issues of environmental factors, bathtubs and handrails etc, but placed a greater emphasis on the emerging impact of age-related issues, particularly dementia.

Research was presented on a wide range of related topics, including the following:

  • Measuring the seriousness of injuries following falls
  • Increased risk of fall due to age, particularly in women due to reduction in bone density
  • Changes in the balance-response due to age
  • Growing impact of dementia

During several sessions on ergonomics, the importance of design was made apparent.  Examples included the extent to which pedestrians were provided with visual signals of increased risk and how these signals reduced the accident numbers below that which the Pye Harrison research might have predicted.  Transition points, problem tenancies such as florists, fishmongers and fruit and veg stalls continue to lead to higher accident rates; confounding factors identified included cleaning-loop times, leaks, wet weather and fraud.

Steve Thorpe ran a session focusing on what the UKSRG was doing to reduce risk of falls.  He talked about ensuring specifications were appropriate for new-builds but also on ensuring surfaces were kept clean and dry in existing buildings.  He spoke about the new UKSRG website with the additional content on cleaning, stair-safety, footwear and barrier matting and the emerging subject of due-diligence; recording slip-test data and control measures deployed etc, to aid defensibility in the event of claims.

Steve referred to the importance we place on the Pendulum Skid Tester, which was timely given that other presented their work different testing devices, mainly tribometers, in various jurisdictions.  Steve championing of the Pendulum was supported by other UKSRG members in the room, such as Carl Strautins and Richard Bowman.

Presentation, Steve Thorpe (link to PDF)

At the end of the first day, the delegates visited iDAPT’s impressive Challenging Environment Assessment Lab (CEAL).  CEAL consists of a large (6 metre x 6 metre), 6-degree-of-freedom motion platform that can be configured with various portable, self-contained laboratory spaces (also referred to as interchangeable payloads).

One is WinterLab, which has a real ice floor and can reach sub-zero temperatures and produce winds up to 15 km an hour. StreetLab has a 180-degree field-of-view curved visual projection screen combined with a treadmill interface and a wheelchair simulator.

StairLab has a fully instrumented staircase. All lab spaces are outfitted with state-of-the-art motion capture systems, eye-trackers, surround sound systems and force plates.

CEAL provides unique opportunities for researchers interested in many different research areas, including: perception-action coupling, multisensory integration (visual, auditory, proprioceptive and vestibular), visual and auditory processing, virtual reality, biomechanics, the development of assistive devices and mobility aids, and usability testing of new products, techniques and technologies where state of the art pods allowed reproduced.

The CEAL visit was followed by a memorable course dinner held in the rotating restaurant at the top of the iconic CNN Tower where delegates were able to mingle over drinks, make new connections and take in the sights of one of the worlds’ great cities.


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