Very few footwear and flooring suppliers decribed the environments for which their products are suitable, HSE said.

British Study Finds Slip Resistance Data Fall Short

The Health and Safety Executive examined what footwear and flooring suppliers offer to end users in sales literature and online. No indication of slip resistance was given for 47 percent of the 1,304 footwear styles surveyed, and another 36 percent claimed to be slip resistant but provided no test data.

Britain's OSHA agency, the Health and Safety Executive, issued a report Thursday based on a study of what footwear and flooring suppliers tell about those products' slip resistance. After examining suppliers' literature and online materials, the agency found no indication of slip resistance was given for 47 percent of the 1,304 footwear styles surveyed, and another 36 percent claimed to be slip resistant but provided no test data. And very few footwear and flooring suppliers offered advice on their products' suitability for various environments, HSE said.

"The information provided by footwear and flooring manufacturers was not satisfactory," the report's conclusion states. "Generally flooring suppliers were better than footwear suppliers at providing data to support their claims regarding the slip resistance of their products. However, due to the broad range of test methods used and, in many cases, the obscure data provided, e.g., the German DIN 'R' classifications, which have very broad acceptance criteria, it is very difficult to gain a clear understanding of how well a floor surface will perform in a particular environment."

HSE checked the offerings against slip resistance data generated or maintained by the Health and Safety Laboratory. As the agency tries to raise awareness of slip-and-fall injuries -- according to HSE, nearly 11,000 workers suffered serious injuries from a slip-and-fall incident in 2007 -- a key element is explaining how risks can be controlled by using suitable flooring and footwear.

HSE found some suppliers state their footwear complies with BS EN ISO 20346:2004 in a way that may suggest slip resistance testing had been carried out, but that version of the standard refers only to cleat design and does not specify any slip resistance requirement, HSE said.

HSE included 1,003 floor surfaces in its study, including cement, stone, wood, rubber, vinyl, and linoleum floors, resins, and coatings. Of the 1,003, 269 (27 percent) claimed to be slip resistant. Most of those who made the claim (237, 88 percent of this group) provided test data to support the claim.

Page 13 of the Health and Safety Laboratory's 2008/2009 annual report describes testing that helped BP tailor its list of acceptable footwear to be worn by production workers on offshore and onshore sites and reduced their slip hazards.

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