A study of the effect of modifying the European Standard mechanical slip resistance test for footwear

Employers use a range of control measures to reduce the risk of slips injuries, but if a significant slip risk remains, introducing footwear with slip-resistant properties may be necessary.

The Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL) uses a human-based ramp test to assess the slip resistance of footwear. The human-based principle ensures that the parameters of a slip are closely replicated, therefore establishing confidence in the results generated. The current European Standard for footwear slip resistance is a mechanical friction test that attempts to replicate the action of a slipping foot. However, the slip resistances given by this test do not always agree with those given by the HSL ramp test for the same footwear.

This work studied the effects of modifying two parameters of the mechanical test, in order to establish closer agreement with the HSL Ramp Test. By improving this agreement, the mechanical test could be developed as a convenient alternative to the ramp test for HSL assessments of the slip resistance of footwear, both in research and slips investigations.

Modification of two parameters (slip velocity and vertical force) controlling the mechanical test in the heel slip mode resulted in improved agreement between the two tests for the limited number of samples tested. Further confirmation of the effect of optimising these parameters is necessary. Modification of further mechanical test parameters is also necessary, since the modified mechanical test currently underestimates the available slip resistance compared to the ramp test.

This report and the work it describes were funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Its contents, including any opinions and/or conclusions expressed, are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect HSE policy.

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Updated 2021-04-23