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Accreditation of slip-testing – Surface Performance case study

Surface Performance Ltd is a UKAS accredited laboratory that specialises in the slip resistance testing of sports surfaces, playgrounds, and innovative flooring products. Located in Sunbury and established in 2012, the company offers both field and laboratory testing services to ensure the safety of athletes, employees, and visitors in sports and other facilities. With accreditation to ISO/IEC 17025:2017, Surface Performance is one of only three UK “sports labs” with UKAS certification for slip resistance testing. The company’s testing can help reduce slip and trip claims by 60%, and their product certification of tiles can potentially result in a reduction in insurance premiums.

Surface Performance has emerged as a leading provider of surface testing for the sports sector in the UK and internationally. Initially focused on artificial surfaces, particularly artificial grass and 3G football pitches, the company now also conducts slip testing and product testing.

The role of slip testing in sports

Slip testing is an essential aspect of ensuring safety in sports facilities, particularly in arenas and sports halls. Athletes require a surface that is slip-resistant to prevent injuries and maintain their performance. Slip testing is conducted to determine whether the installed sports hall flooring meets the required slip resistance standards. This testing is crucial as it ensures athletes are safe while practicing or competing.

Slip-resistant surfaces not only protect athletes from injuries, but also offer peace of mind to sports facility owners and coaches concerning safety and also competitiveness. Overall, slip testing is a critical process that ensures the safety and wellbeing of athletes and is therefore of utmost importance in the sports sector.

The significance of accreditation

UKAS accreditation to ISO/IEC 17025:2017 for testing and calibration laboratories provides numerous advantages over unaccredited testing. Accreditation ensures that the laboratory has the technical competence, appropriate equipment, and quality control procedures to produce accurate and reliable results. The accreditation process involves rigorous evaluation against the ISO/IEC 17025:2017 standard, which enhances the credibility and integrity of the laboratory’s results.

Accreditation also establishes the laboratory’s technical competency, which is crucial in the event of any speculation or dispute. Additionally, UKAS accreditation is recognised internationally, which provides global recognition for the laboratory’s technical competence.

Overall, UKAS accredited ISO/IEC 17025:2017 testing provides confidence in the accuracy and reliability of test results, benefiting athletes, sports facility owners, coaches, and any other stakeholders who rely on the laboratory’s services.

Accreditation plays a crucial role in Surface Performance’s ability to operate in the sports sector. To establish credibility and meet the requirements of international sporting organisations such as FIFA, FA and World Rugby, the company sought accreditation to ISO/IEC 17025:2017 from UKAS.

Gaining accreditation

The road to obtaining UKAS accreditation was not without its challenges for Surface Performance (gaining accreditation is not easy, and neither should it be). The process required the company to undergo rigorous assessment and meet stringent criteria. The accreditation process involved showcasing training records, calibration certificates, maintenance regimes, and audit plans. Surface Performance was able to demonstrate its capabilities and gain the confidence of both sports governing bodies and clients and was first granted accreditation in 2013.

In addition to UKAS accreditation, Surface Performance also pursued FIFA accreditation to enable them to participate in FIFA’s annual “round robin” testing. This involved taking technicians and equipment to various sites, primarily in Europe, to test two fields over the course of a week. The accreditation process for FIFA ensures that the pitches meet the required standards and can be used for official matches and training sessions, providing a safe and optimal playing surface for athletes.

Surface Performance views their UKAS accreditation as a valuable asset in showcasing their capabilities and maintaining high standards. The accreditation process requires the company to have all necessary documentation and processes in place, ensuring consistency and reliability in their work. This level of accreditation instils confidence not only in governing bodies but also in clients who may face legal repercussions in the event of slip-related accidents. The rigorous accreditation process acts as a quality assurance mechanism, enabling Surface Performance to provide trusted and dependable surface testing services.


The shift towards proactive slip testing

Surface Performance has observed a shift in the mentality surrounding slip testing in recent years. While historically, slip testing was often conducted after an accident had occurred, there has been an increasing demand for proactive testing as a preventative measure. Health and Safety Managers and Warehouse Managers now recognise the importance of identifying potential slip hazards before accidents happen. This shift has allowed Surface Performance to offer their slip-testing services as a proactive solution, helping companies mitigate risks and maintain safe working environments.

The trickle-down effect of quality testing

One of the challenges Surface Performance faced was differentiating themselves from competitors who offered lower-cost, non-accredited slip testing services. To justify their higher costs and provide added value to their clients, Surface Performance decided to incorporate slip testing into their UKAS scope of accreditation. This decision has been well-received by their customers, especially larger brand organisations with a focus on workplace safety. The UKAS accredited slip-testing reports provided by Surface Performance offer additional protection and can be used as a marketing tool by companies to showcase the quality of their products.

Expanding into product testing

Looking to the future, Surface Performance has recently gained FIFA “accreditation” as a product testing laboratory. This expansion will allow them to test new types of artificial turf and provide valuable insights to manufacturers before the installation of surfaces. By conducting thorough testing in their laboratory, Surface Performance aims to ensure the quality and performance of these products, contributing to the overall improvement of sports surfaces.

Navigating Requirements: The Role of UKAS Assessment Managers

Mark Barraclough, the UKAS Assessment Manager, has played a vital role in Surface Performance’s accreditation journey. From the initial application in 2013 to ongoing communication with FIFA, Mark has been instrumental in navigating any discrepancies between UKAS and FIFA requirements. His understanding of the challenges faced by Surface Performance and proactive approach in addressing them have strengthened the relationship between the company and the sports governing bodies.

Ensuring Safety and Quality in Football

Accreditation and testing are vital in ensuring the safety and quality of football pitches. Surface Performance plays a crucial role in this process, as it is an FA requirement for teams to play on FIFA-certified pitches. Small stadiums with artificial grass need to undergo annual testing to meet league specifications. This ensures that the playing surface is safe and does not impact the results of the games. Surface Performance’s expertise and accreditation provide the necessary assurance that these standards are met consistently.

Surface Performance’s Managing Director, Callum Reid commented on their accreditation:

We mostly use our UKAS accreditation as a means of showcasing our capabilities. It is a great process for forcing you to get everything right in the right place before the assessments go ahead. The whole purpose of accreditation is to provide confidence, which you can then pass onto your customers.

Surface Performance’s journey in accreditation and testing for sports surfaces showcases their commitment to maintaining high standards in the industry. Through their UKAS accreditation, they have established themselves as a trusted provider of surface testing services, not only for the sports sector but also for slip testing in various industries. Their proactive approach to testing and future plans for product testing further emphasise their dedication to safety, quality, and continuous improvement.

With a strong focus on quality and a comprehensive range of services, Surface Performance continues to be a leading player in the field of surface testing and accreditation.