Are the anti-slip safety products YOU are buying the real deal that will actually prevent injury accidents, or are they clever Chinese look-alikes?
How can YOU tell the difference and should YOU really care?
Low priced, low quality Chinese made anti-slip products are increasingly being offered in Australia under a number of local brand names and sometimes even blatantly promoted as Australian made.
Do you know what you are buying, or selling to your clients? Does it really make a difference?
In this article we will help you to quickly identify a serious anti-slip safety product from useless, money wasting and dangerous copies. We will help you to better understand exactly what the differences are, based on facts and knowledge, not clever marketing speak.
You know the products we refer to, the rough textured, bright yellow anti-slip nosings (edges) that fit to stairs and the equivalent flat plates for floors, and ‘U’ covers for ladders.
Texture Does The Work. It may seem obvious but the rough surface texture on the anti-slip products does the work in stopping slip. Texture increases friction – so decreases slip. The effectiveness, the durability and the life expectancy of the anti-slip product is entirely dependent on how tough that texture is, so if the texture is weak, soft and thin and wears out quickly then the anti-slip product is useless, but if the texture is extremely hard and well bonded, then the product will remain highly effective for a long time.
Base Material Does Little. Commonly galvanized/stainless steel or pre-formed fiberglass (FRP) are used as a rigid base, over which the paint and grit texture coating is applied. The rigid base of the product has absolutely no input into creating anti-slip, it is simply needed to carry the paint coating.
Let’s call this type of product ‘Coated Products’ and we know that the anti-slip feature is limited to a very thin, surface applied paint and grit coating. Same sort of thing as people do on their steps at home, only these products are mass produced in a factory some place – wet paint, sprinkle the grit, more paint.
- The anti-slip is only a thin surface layer.
- Poor impact and abrasion resistance.
- Colour fades with UV.
- Low grade chip (sand/crushed glass) and low grade paint.
- Fast to wear, chip falls out.
Typical Chinese Made Product are all Coated Products and use either a fiberglass (FRP) or galvanized steel base.
You can tell Chinese made FRP by turning the product over and the bottom will be a light yellow colour and you will see a ‘weave’ pattern that is the glass reinforcing cloth. Another feature is that the base material will be quite thick, maybe 4mm or more, thickened up to offset the lack of resin used in the base (cost saving). The texture will be very obviously thin and sitting on top, and the grit is likely to be shiny (crushed glass or quartz) and quite fine textured. Do the ‘rub test’, use a piece of Safety Step product rubbed face to face against the import item for 5 or 6 seconds, blow off the dust and you will see that Safety Step is unmarked but the coating on the import will be almost gone.
You can tell Chinese made FRP by turning the product over and the bottom will be a light yellow colour and you will see a ‘weave’ pattern that is the glass reinforcing cloth. Another feature is that the base material will be quite thick, maybe 4mm or more, thickened up to offset the lack of resin used in the base (cost saving).
The texture will be very obviously thin and sitting on top, and the grit is likely to be shiny (crushed glass or quartz) and quite fine textured. Do the ‘rub test’, use a piece of Safety Step product rubbed face to face against the import item for 5 or 6 seconds, blow off the dust and you will see that Safety Step is unmarked but the coating on the import will be almost gone.
To lower cost the import products use weak, solvent thinned paint and cheap, low strength chip to make the coating. To the average Joe these products look very similar to high durability types, but within days of being used the texture will start to fall out and wear down, leaving just the smooth base material – and we know that it has no anti-slip safety capability.
After spending good money and thinking you have protected against serious slip and fall injuries, you will quickly find that all anti-slip protection is gone and you have to do the job over again. Looking the business is simply not good enough in this instance.
Coating Vs Composite. This is the very heart of knowing the difference between the serious, high performance safety product and the look-alike throw away item.
Safety Step are the only anti-slip manufacturers to make a product that does not use the base and a top coating method, and instead the entire material is a seamless, composite anti-slip material where ALL of the parts are bonded together in one wet process. This means that the colour is mixed through the fire retardant resin, layered with heavy weight glass fibre reinforcing, and then the diamond hard refractory grit is forced under pressure right into the wet mix and the entire thing is cured.
The result is an indestructible, one piece, composite anti-slip material that simply cannot fall apart, will not wear down and will last for many, many years, even under extreme traffic and the most hostile environments.
Once you see Safety Step next to a coated product you will always instantly recognize the difference. The colour is uniform right through to the bottom. The material is thinner yet significantly stronger. On any cut edge you can see the refractory grit forced right down into the material, not just sitting on top. Rub it against any other similar material (the Rub Test) and see the difference in abrasion and toughness.