Batteries Might Prevent Workplace Injury

Batteries Might Prevent Workplace Injury

An associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh leads a study to show AA batteries can measure shoe tread wear, leading to slips and falls.

Workplace injuries and deaths have a huge economic impact on the U.S. costing billions of dollars. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), work injury costs totaled $170.8 billion in 2018. One of the top causes was slip-and-fall injuries – an accident that can be completely prevented with proper footwear.

A research study was conducted by The University of Pittsburgh’s Kurt Beschorner and others to predict the risk of a slip-and-fall injury based on shoe tread. They examined the impact of worn shoes on slipping and are working with the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) Traumatic Injury Prevention Council to develop safety signage.

“Our research focuses on understanding the underlying causes of slippery shoes, and we have been working to identify the tread thresholds where shoes become unsafe,” said Beschorner, associate professor of bioengineering at Pitt and a member of the Human Movement & Balance Laboratory. “Slip-resistant shoes are designed with train channels that help drain fluid, but as shoes wear down, the channels disappear and become ineffective. This can create a slipping effect similar to tires hydroplaning on a wet road.”

The risk of slipping depends on the size of the worn patch of shoe. According to an article, they developed a test that uses a universal device and battery to determine when it’s time to replace your footwear.

“The strength of our test is in its simplicity,” Beschorner said. “Use the base of a AA battery to measure the worn region of your slip-resistant shoe. When the worn region becomes larger than the base of a battery, the shoe should be replaced. As the worn patch grows larger, there is a steady decline in function, and the base of the battery is the size where it becomes meaningful.”

The team considered pens or coins for the test, but most objects varied in size regarding brand or country. Batteries, however, are the same universally. Beschorner suggests to keep an eye on your shoes and replace them before the worn patch becomes too large. His research also shows that people will "wear through their shoes at different rates."

“The rate of wear was predicted by the walking style of the individual. Particularly, participants who utilized more friction during dry walking wore through shoes at a faster rate,” he said.“Thus, individuals may require different replacement schedules based on their unique walking style.”

In addition to monitoring the shoes, Beschorner suggests that workers examine the tread before purchasing new ones.

About the Author

Shereen Hashem is the Associate Content Editor for Occupational Health & Safety magazine.

Download Center

  • OSHA Recordkeeping Guide

    In case you missed it, OSHA recently initiated an enforcement program to identify employers who fail to electronically submit Form 300A recordkeeping data to the agency. When it comes to OSHA recordkeeping, there are always questions regarding the requirements and ins and outs. This guide is here to help! We’ll explain reporting, recording, and online reporting requirements in detail.

  • Incident Investigations Guide

    If your organization has experienced an incident resulting in a fatality, injury, illness, environmental exposure, property damage, or even a quality issue, it’s important to perform an incident investigation to determine how this happened and learn what you can do to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps of performing an incident investigation.

  • Lone Worker Guide

    Lone workers exist in every industry and include individuals such as contractors, self-employed people, and those who work off-site or outside normal hours. These employees are at increased risk for unaddressed workplace accidents or emergencies, inadequate rest and breaks, physical violence, and more. To learn more about lone worker risks and solutions, download this informative guide.

  • Job Hazard Analysis Guide

    This guide includes details on how to conduct a thorough Job Hazard Analysis, and it's based directly on an OSHA publication for conducting JHAs. Download the guide to learn how to identify potential hazards associated with each task of a job and set controls to mitigate hazard risks.

  • The Basics of Incident Investigations Webinar

    Without a proper incident investigation, it becomes difficult to take preventative measures and implement corrective actions. Watch this on-demand webinar for a step-by-step process of a basic incident investigation, how to document your incident investigation findings and analyze incident data, and more. 

  • Vector Solutions

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - November December 2022

    November December 2022

    Featuring:

    • IH: GAS DETECTION
      The Evolution of Gas Detection
    • OSHA TOP 10
      OSHA's Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards for FY 2022
    • FALL PROTECTION
      Enhance Your Fall Protection Program with Technology
    • 90TH ANNIVERSARY
      The Future: How Safety WIll Continue to Evolve
    View This Issue