Supplying slip-resistant footwear
This page provides information for suppliers and manufacturers on Supplying slip-resistant footwear
Key role of manufacturers and suppliers
For many employers slip-resistant footwear plays an important role. Employers may have put in several control measures to reduce the risk of slips, but if a slip risk still remains, introducing footwear with slip-resistant properties may be the only effective way they can further reduce the risk of slips. For them, making the right choice of footwear for their employees and the work environment is vital if slips are to be reduced.
As a manufacturer or supplier you have a key role in ensuring that suitable products are available and that procurers have the information to enable them to make the right choices.
It is essential that procurers can be sure that the chosen footwear type will live up to the product description. Furthermore, you have a legal duty to provide accurate descriptions of your products. An HSE study in 2008 showed that in many cases suppliers provided limited information on slip resistance, which made it difficult for procurers to select the right footwear.
You can view several case studies - footwear which show how slip-resistant footwear has been of use in different environments.
Slip resistance test methods
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). The performance specifications are given in an associated set of personal protective equipment (PPE) standards, namely:
- EN ISO 20345:2004 (A1:2007) for safety footwear
- EN ISO 20346:2004 (A1:2007) for protective footwear
- EN ISO 20347:2004 (A1:2007) for occupational footwear
The manufacturer has to prove slip resistance performance through testing. This is normally done using European standard BS EN ISO 13287:2007 - Personal protective equipment – Footwear – Test method for slip resistance.
Standards can be purchased from BSI.
The test surfaces are not wholly representative of all underfoot conditions so you may wish to consider having additional testing done 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:
RR801 - A study of the effect of modifying the European Standard mechanical slip resistance test for footwear
Information to be provided
Depending on the test conditions chosen, footwear tested according to the EN standards is now marked with one of the following codes, SRA, SRB, SRC.
The codes indicate that the footwear has met the specified requirements when tested as follows:
- SRA – tested on ceramic tile wetted with dilute soap solution
- SRB – tested on smooth steel with glycerol
- SRC – tested under both the above conditions
Footwear products once tested and certified are stamped with the CE mark. The manufacturer also provides user information indicating the applications for which the footwear is suitable.
The test house will provide you, the supplier, with coefficient of friction (CoF) test values for the footwear. You must include this data in the technical file associated with the footwear, and procurers can request the CoF values from you. Some suppliers now include CoF data in their catalogues.