Getting a Grip on Slip Resistance
Evaluating the coefficient of friction of PPE footwear.
- By Christopher Cooper
- Feb 01, 2021
Hectic restaurant kitchens, busy hospital hallways, the debris-strewn floors of food manufacturing plants—all are undeniably hazardous work environments that multiply the chance of slip and fall accidents and injuries.
Slip-resistant footwear can help protect workers, but how is slip resistance properly evaluated?
Slip-resistant footwear has been proven to reduce slip and fall occurrence, most recently in a NIOSH study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health, but all slip-resistant shoes are not created equal. Even now, there is no standard definition of the term. What does it really mean when a shoe is labelled non-slip, anti-slip or slip resistant?
There are agreed-upon standards and best practices overseeing industrial safety toe footwear. However, and importantly, there is no consensus on an approved and enforced standard of slip- resistant protection for the general workforce. Contrast that with safety toe standards, where ASTM F2413 is the universally recognized and accepted industry standard that covers footwear for a wide range of jobs, from truck driving to warehousing to construction and manufacturing.
Servers, bartenders, janitors, chefs, grocery store clerks, clinical medical staff—all are professions that involve dangerous floor conditions. In these slick and slippery environments with contaminants ranging from grease and oil to soap, water and chemicals, safety professionals need the proper data to define and qualify “slip-resistant footwear” for employee use in their company safety programs across all industries.
The goal: approved testing methods that approximate accurate measurements of the footwear's slip-resistant safety in real-world environments.
The Coefficient of Friction (COF)
The standard method for evaluating the slip resistance of footwear is by determining its dynamic coefficient of friction (COF).
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2021 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.