SOUTHLAKE, Texas, July 7, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI) has petitioned the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to require floor covering manufacturers to label their products' traction in accordance with the 2014 ANSI/NFSI B101.5 product label.
NFSI President, Russ Kendzior, states that: "Slips and falls are one of the leading causes injuries, of which 55% are caused by unsafe floors. However, when it comes to buying a floor, most consumers are in the dark and assume all floors are safe only to find out that they are not once they are injured."
The CPSC received more than sixty public comments which many were in support. Deborah A.P. Hersman, President and CEO of the National Safety Council, states that: "Requiring flooring products to include slip resistance safety labeling that is clearly defined in line with the ANSI B101 standard will enable consumers to make better, safer choices." William C. Wallace from Consumers Union publisher of Consumer Reports Magazine states that: "We are pleased that the agency voted to approve publication of this notice and solicit comments on how to help consumers make safe decisions based on meaningful information when selecting flooring product."
However, there is fierce opposition from flooring manufacturers. Mohawk Industries, one of the nation's largest flooring manufacturers stated that: "Providing coefficient of friction (COF) information of product packaging misdirects the consumer and can lead to a false sense of safety. Our decades of experience in the floor covering industry indicates that wet and dry traction are generally self evident to consumers simply by walking on the product, or running a hand over it under the expected conditions (i.e.: wet and dry)."
NFSI research has shown that most floor coverings are evenly distributed along the three traction ranges, making it just as easy for the consumer to select a High-Traction floor as that of a Low-Traction floor. "Safety should not be a crap shoot for the consumer," says Kendzior. "Running your fingers across a floor's surface is not an accurate measurement of the product's safety as it will be walked on. The flooring industry is already testing their products' slip resistance and all we are asking is they make that information available to the consumer via an easy to understand product label."
Lobbyists for the flooring industry who oppose the labeling effort believe that "Safe floors are only insured by keeping floors clean and dry," says Eric Astrachan of the Tile Council of North America (TCNA), the trade association representing the ceramic tile industry. Chuck Muehlbauer from the Marble Institute of America (MIA) claims that the proposed label "will not increase safety only confusion."
Kendzior says that "this is like saying that by telling the consumer how many grams of fat or sugar there is via the food nutrition label would somehow confuse them. Regardless if it's food or floors, the consumer has a right to know how safe the products they purchase are. A bad choice could be a matter of life and death."
"I was surprised to learn of the industry's resistance to the product labeling initiative, given that both the TCNA and the MIA participated as members of the NFSI B101 committee, which authored and approved the ANSI B101.5 labeling standard. No one is suggesting that product labeling will prevent all slips and falls, but it's a good first step in creating awareness as to the risks associated with flooring," states Kendzior.
The CPSC staff is currently reviewing the petition and is expected to present their findings to the full commissioners this fall.
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SOURCE The National Floor Safety Institute