Wooden steps are an aesthetically pleasing addition to buildings both inside and out. However, in an instant, wood can become a dangerous slipping hazard particularly when smooth and/or wet. Inside, non-tactile shoes and smooth wood surfaces are a risky combination. And for external steps, rain, algae and ice can make them particularly treacherous, especially when people haven’t prepared themselves for it.
Your employees’ and/or the public’s safety is paramount, so ensuring wooden steps are safe should be a top priority to prevent slips and falls. Fortunately, there are a variety of options to make your steps safer and prevent any injuries from occurring on-site. We explore them below.
Cost-Effective Ways to Fix Your Slippery Wooden Steps
The usual remedy you will see being attempted to prevent slipping on wooden steps is very often the cheapest methods that don’t last. In fact, often these solutions end up being a contributing factor to tripping and slipping.
People often choose cheaper methods such as chicken wire which breaks up, goes rusty, cuts ankles and causes people to trip. It’s rarely a successful method. Sand and salt treatments are very temporary, no more than a few days go by and then you will be reapplying more. Self-adhesive tape will stick when it’s dry but as soon as the rain comes this will creep beneath the tape and delaminate in no time. Plus it will rip easily by shoe grit and debris. Gravel and chippings get kicked away and eventually need reapplying. Another common solution is to cut grooves into timber steps thinking that this would offer up adequate traction, unfortunately, it doesn't.
The only long term sure way to solve slippery surface on wooden steps is using GRIPCLAD ® GRP Composite Anti-Slip Sheeting. Our PTV Test Dry is 76 and PTV Wet is 70. This means that the risk of slipping when using this sheeting is very low.
The pendulum test for outdoor wooden steps
This test measures the dynamic coefficient of friction (CoF). It's designed to replicate a pedestrian heel strike - the point at which most slips occur. When a pedestrian heel strikes a wet floor, a fluid film is created between them which can cause a slip.
The test works in wet conditions because it generates a similar fluid film between the slider and the floor. It can be used to accurately test the slip potential on clean and dry or contaminated floors. The test also works with dry contaminants.
This is HSE's preferred method of testing because it is portable and works in the conditions that slip accidents happen. Pendulum results are referred to as Pendulum Test Values (PTV) or Slip Resistance Values (SRV). When the test is operated properly, the PTV should be interpreted as shown in the table.
Another solution to fix slippery wooden steps are GRP stair tread covers and nosings. Stair tread covers give you complete anti-slip protection as the entire step is covered with a tactile grit surface.
No matter your requirements, treads can be made to measure for any wooden steps up to a width of 3660mm and depth of 345mm. With a highlighted colour edge, you can ensure your steps are visible to everyone, including those with visual impairments. Unlike paint, which requires consistent retouching, GRP stair tread edges’ colour will not wear off and will not corrode.
The difference between stair tread covers and nosings is that nosings fit seamlessly on the edge of your steps to provide anti-slip protection where necessary. Available up to a width of 3660mm and depth of 55mm, these provide protection to the edge of your wooden steps, preventing chips and making your steps safer.
Both covers and nosings are suitable for internal and external use and are extremely durable. For more specialist applications, they are the perfect option as they are chemical resistant and fire retardant.
- Minimal downtime
- No regular maintenance necessary
- Available in a range of colours
- Enhanced for visibility
- Made to measure
- Chemical resistant