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Validation of Walkway Tribometers: Establishing a Reference Standard

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Tribometers are mechanical devices used to measure walkway coefficient of friction (COF) for the purpose of assessing slip risk. The purpose of this study was to define a tribometer reference standard and use it to assess the performance of various tribometers. Eighty subjects were randomly assigned to walk across one of four wet walkway surfaces (polished black granite, porcelain, vinyl composition tile, and ceramic tile) to establish the relative slipperiness of each surface. Eleven tribometers were subsequently used to measure and rank the COF of all four surfaces. Our results revealed that only four of the 11 tribometers (Wessex pendulum, Sigler pendulum, Mark II, and Mark III) met our compliance criteria by both correctly ranking all four surfaces and differentiating between surfaces of varying degrees of slipperiness. Our protocol demonstrates that human gait-based measures of slipperiness can be used to create reference standards against which tribometer measurements can be validated.
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Keywords: coefficient of friction; forensic science; reference standard; slips; walkway safety; walkway tribometer

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Musculoskeletal Biomechanics Research Laboratory, Division of Biokinesiology & Physical Therapy, University of Southern California, 1540 E. Alcazar St., CHP-155, Los Angeles, CA 90089. 2: Semper Scientific, 26021 Acero, Mission Viejo, CA 92691. 3: J2 Engineering Inc., 7636 N. Ingram Ave, Suite 108, Fresno, CA 93711. 4: MEA Forensic Engineers & Scientists, 11-11151 Horseshoe Way, Richmond, BC, Canada V7A 4S5.

Publication date: March 1, 2010

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