LU Insider

Selecting the Correct Footwear to Prevent Slips, Trips, and Falls

One of the most common and important control measures for slips and trips is footwear.

What are the main causes of slips, trips, and falls at Lawrence University? (When it’s not related to Winter – ice and snow)

  • Uneven surfaces, sidewalks
  • Wet/slippery floors (tracking inside after rain storms)
  • Changes in walking surface; stairs, steps, curbs and ramps

The Right Safety Footwear Makes a Big Difference

Is slip resistant the same as non-slip?

There are two main differences between slip resistance and nonslip. First, nonslip shoes have a very flat surface, while slip-resistant shoes have a large surface area with indents in them. The indents in the shoe help to grip the surfaces that you are walking.

How to Select the Right Footwear to Reduce Tripping

When choosing safety footwear, here are the most important things to consider to avoid tripping.

  • Ensure Proper Fit. The larger the shoe is compared to our foot, the higher our chances of misjudging the clearance over obstacles and, therefore, the higher our chances of tripping.
  • Boots Over Shoes. In an environment where tripping is a concern, a boot is a better choice than a low-cut shoe. Many accidents and injuries happen when we try to readjust our position after tripping, and a boot (provided the laces are tied) will provide additional stability to the ankle, which will minimize the risk of ankle injury when you put pressure on your foot or leg to maintain your position.
  • Look for Certified Slip-Resistance. Make sure the shoe or boot you’re buying is branded as slip-resistant. Specifically, look for brands that are certified ASTM F2913, now up to its 2019 revision. This will ensure that the slip-resistant claim is backed by rigorous testing.
  • Match the Footwear to the Walking Surface. The non-slip properties of safety shoes are expressed in relation to a specific walking surface. Make sure the footwear’s anti-slip properties will actually provide additional traction on the types of surfaces in your workplace.

Tests are most commonly done on three conditions: Dry /Wet / Hi Soil Oily/Wet

Ratings are then given based on a coefficient of friction, varying from 0 to 1.

If you’re considering a safety boot for outdoor work, for example, and it has a coefficient of friction of 1 for Dry conditions but only 0.2 for Hi Soil Oily/Wet, you should look for another boot. The boot may work perfectly well on dry surfaces, but outdoor work means a chance of encountering wet or muddy surfaces.

  • Check the Tread. While no specific tread pattern is better than any other, one that has fairly deep treads will do a better job of channeling out water, oil, or mud, which will generally give it better traction. However, for some wet or oily surfaces multiple narrow channels provides superior traction.

As the tread wears out, the performance declines. So, it is possible for shallower treads to wear out more quickly compared to deep, lug outsoles.

Most slips and falls occur on wet surfaces.