OSHA Research Project on Slip Resistance
by William English
Revised February 16, 2004

The OSHA Construction Safety Standards Development office and the Chairman of the Steel Erection Negotiated Rulemaking Advisory Committee (SENRAC) contacted me to help arrange contracts for research to determine the most feasible method of reducing the incidence of fall-related fatalities and serious injuries in the steel erection industry to be used as a basis for new rule-making for Safety Standards for Steel Erection. Their request was to carry forward the initial research done by English & Marletta in 1995 concerning the availability of slip-resistant paints and the effect that their use would have on the construction industry fatality rate. The prior rulemaking proposal based on the 1995 study has been opposed by the Steel Coalition, and reports prepared by Dr. George Sotter (as a consultant to that consortium of trade associations) were considered as background for this research. Research contracts were subsequently issued to William English, David Underwood and Keith Vidal. Paul Guevin was also selected by OSHA for liaison with paint companies. Members of the Miami Local of the Ironworkers International Union cooperated in our experiments.

Because ironworkers had observed that slipperiness of structural steel components created serious slip/fall hazards at high elevations, OSHA engaged David Underwood, Keith Vidal and me to conduct research in Coral Ridge, Florida on October 24, 1998 for the following purposes:

Following completion of our investigations, we reported to OSHA in Washington, DC on December 1, 1998 concerning our research findings at hearings conducted before a Federal Administrative Law Judge at the Department of Labor auditorium. Although we were opposed by the same entities that had opposed the 1995 English & Marletta findings (and virtually the same issues were raised again), our testimony was said to be persuasive. A week later, George Widas, an independent pedestrian slip resistance expert also testified before the same court in support of our research findings. Reportedly his presentation was devastating to our opposition.

Issues of primary concern to our opponents (The Steel Coalition) were (1) The Precision & Bias of the XL slipmeter, (2) whether the threshold of safety should be .50 and (3) whether somebody who derives income from the sale of the leading-edge English XL slipmeter could possibly do valid research on the subject of pedestrian slip resistance.

The proposed rule-making has been adopted by OSHA for inclusion in the 1926 Construction Safety Standards in OSHA 1926.754, (c), (3). Following are excerpts from the OSHA news release:

Copies of our research report [known within OSHA as "English II"] are available from the OSHA Docket Office in Washington, DC, and it is contained in its entirety in the Second Edition of Pedestrian Slip Resistance, available from William English, Inc. To purchase your copy of the book PSR, send a check for $65.00 pus $5.00 shipping and handling (a total of $70.00) to William English, Inc., P. O. Box 985, Alva, FL 33920. Florida residents add sales tax. For those from outside the US, send a bank draft for $100USD, which includes air shipment. View Table of Contents.

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