Warning: This post contains technical information. It is informative and factual while seeking to communicate a complicated subject in a more easy-to-understand format. If any of this is confusing or doesn’t make sense, or you have questions, feel free to leave comments or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
So how do you know if a pair of shoes is up to the challenge of your workplace? First you need to understand what slip resistance is and how it is measured.
What Does “Slip Resistant” Mean?
In terms of footwear, slip resistance is the amount of resistance the sole of the shoe exerts while moving over the walking surface. Slip resistance is measured in Coefficient of Friction (COF), which is equal to the ratio between the maximal frictional force that the sole of the shoe exerts and the force pushing the sole across the surface.
That’s a lot of five-dollar words to explain that slip resistance is all about traction and grip between a shoe sole and the floor, which you probably already knew. What you may not have known is that there is an entire system for measuring slip resistance, both in flooring and in footwear.
How Is Slip Resistance Measured?
Some people think that a shoe is either slip resistant or not slip resistant, but slip resistance is actually measured on a scale based on the COF. The scale runs from 0.00, equivalent to an ice skating rink or another extremely slippery condition, up to 1.00, which is like walking on dry carpet. So basically, the higher the number, the greater the slip resistance.
So rather than ask whether or not a pair of shoes is slip resistant, it is more imperative that you discover HOW slip resistant a pair of shoes is. There are several methods of testing slip resistance in shoes, which we will go into a little later, but know that shoe’s slip resistance rating depends on its ability to resist sliding in a given set of conditions. The better the shoe grips, the higher the rating.
What Slip Resistance Standards Exist?
Unfortunately, there are currently no national standards for slip resistant footwear in the workplace. Unlike safety toe footwear, which is required to perform at a certain level and clearly document the safety performance, slip resistant footwear comes in a wide variety of performance levels. If there is one thing that you need to remember when researching slip resistant shoes, it is this:
NOT ALL SLIP RESISTANT FOOTWEAR PERFORMS EQUALLY.
A variety of factors affect the performance of a shoe including tread pattern, contact between outsole surface and flooring, and outsole compound technology. When choosing a pair of slip resistant work shoes, it’s important for you to find out how that shoe is going to perform in your environment. If that information isn’t readily available in the shoebox or at the store, go online to the manufacturing company’s website or call the company and ask for a copy of their slip resistant test results.
At SR Max, we require a minimum Coefficient of Friction of 0.40 from all of our shoe brands. If a shoe doesn’t meet that standard, we won’t sell it to our customers. Our own brand of shoes performs much higher than that, reaching into the mid 0.7’s in the worst conditions. However, some of the shoes you find cheaply in mall shoe stores will only test at 0.2 or even worse! This means that you can’t count on these shoes to provide traction in oil, grease or other hazardous work conditions.
Be sure to come back next week, when we’ll look into the types of slip resistance test and how to understand what the results of those tests mean.
In the meantime, if you have questions about slip resistance testing or about our line of industry leading slip resistant shoes, we’d love to hear from you. You can give us a call or find us on Facebook and Twitter to ask your question, it would be our pleasure to educate you about slip resistant shoe testing.