The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) B101 committee on Slip, Trip and Fall Prevention has released the nation's first-ever, floor safety standard designed to prevent pedestrian slips and falls, according to a press statement from the National Floor Safety Institute.

The ANSI B101.1 standard provides property owners, insurers, and flooring manufacturers with an important tool by which they can measure the risk of a slip and fall and, in-turn, prevent such accidents from occurring.

"This new standard reflects more than a decade of research by the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI) and is the first step in reducing unintentional slip-and-fall related injuries," says Russell Kendzior, secretary of the ANSI B101 committee and founder of the NFSI.

In 2007, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimated that 2.2 million Americans sought emergency room treatment for an accidental fall making falls the leading cause of emergency room visits in America. The National Safety Council's 2008 edition of "Injury Facts", lists falls as the leading cause of accidental death for people over the age of 85. In 2006, 21,200 people died as the result of an accidental fall.

Individuals over the age of 60 are the most likely victim of a fall. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that the number of Americans age 60+ will more than double over the next decade as the "baby-boomers" begin to retire. The CDC has declared elderly falls a national epidemic and estimates the annual cost to be $40 billion.

Under the new ANSI B101.1 standard, the slip-resistance of a walkway can be measured and categorized into one of three "Traction" ranges: High Traction, Moderate Traction or Low Traction. Floors categorized as High Traction present a low risk of a slip and fall while Moderate Traction and Low Traction floors present an elevated risk. Business owners are encouraged to have their floors tested to determine into which Traction range their floors fall. The NFSI recommends that ANSI B101.1 compliance testing be performed by an NFSI Certified Walkway Auditor, a listing of which can be found at the NFSI's website

Kendzior adds that, "The goal of the standard is to reduce the nation's growing number of slip-and-fall related injuries by increasing the traction of walkways." According to the NFSI, High Traction floors have been clinically proven to reduce slip-and-fall claims by as much as 90%. Once identified, the slip-resistance of Moderate and Low Traction floors can often be elevated into the High Traction range through improved floor maintenance.

The NFSI is a 501(c)-3 not-for-profit charitable foundation whose mission is "to aid in the prevention of slips, trips, and falls through education, research, and standards development." The NFSI is an ANSI Accredited Standards Developing Organization and established the ANSI B101 committee.