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Footwear

Introduction

Choosing slip-resistant footwear from the whole host of products on the market can be difficult. Sole descriptions are varied, from ‘improving the grip performance’ to ‘excellent multi-directional slip-resistance’. Often, footwear is just described as ‘slip-resistant’ and the brochure does not describe the conditions for which the footwear is most suitable.

Footwear selection has to take account of a number of factors in addition to slip resistance, such as comfort, durability and any other safety features required, such as toe protection. The final choice may have to be a compromise.

Top tips

Key points on soles and walking surfaces

Testing for slip resistance

Check with your supplier whether the footwear you are interested in has actually been tested for slip resistance – older models might not have been. Where footwear has been tested, coefficient of friction (CoF) test values must be available. CoF data can be requested from the supplier. Some suppliers now publish it in their catalogues. The higher the CoF, the better the slip resistance. Look for CoF results higher than the minimum requirements set out in annex A of EN ISO 20345/6/7: 2004 (A1:2007) - the standards for safety, protective and occupational footwear.

The safety features of footwear, including slip resistance, are tested according to a set of European test standards written into EN ISO 20344:2004 (A1: 2007). Footwear which has passed the EN test for slip resistance will be marked with one of the following codes, SRA, SRB or SRC.

The codes indicate that the footwear has met the specified requirements when tested as follows:

It should be noted that these test surfaces are not wholly representative of all underfoot surfaces, so additional information may be needed to help to identify the best slip-resistant shoes for your particular environment.

The Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL) carries out research on footwear testing for HSE, and they have developed an in-house test which they have used for testing many footwear types. See:

Further information

If footwear has helped you in preventing slips accidents, HSE would like to hear about it and to publicise it as a case study. Contact us.

Updated 2013-09-19