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Slip resistant footwear reduces slips, while other footwear can increase risk. To assess shoes, you need to check that they suit the tasks and the flooring or ground surfaces, providing adequate friction between the footwear and the surface.

Assess the risk

Signs that shoes are placing wearers at risk of slips, trips and falls include shoes with:

  • treads that are regularly clogged with contaminants (tread not suited to the contaminant)
  • soles that are very smooth, but tasks and environment require moving across smooth, polished floors that may have contaminants
  • high heels with small contact areas when tasks require walking over uneven ground, sloped surfaces, handling heavy loads or rapid movements on contaminated floors
  • loose fittings such as sandals or rubber thongs that are not well fastened around the foot
  • worn out treads or soles that no longer provide grip.

Decide on control measures

Ensure the shoes you choose for work suit the environment, the tasks, and the types of potential contaminants. Some jobs may require a few different types of shoes. To encourage workers and others at the workplace to avoid slips, trips and falls, the following strategies can help:

  • have a Footwear Policy, e.g. for 'sensible' and/or 'slip resistant' footwear and the requirement to clean and maintain the footwear
  • provide clear advice to workers about design features to look for in their footwear suited to their work environments and tasks
  • provide cleaning stations where contaminants can be removed from the tread
  • remind workers to repair or dispose of footwear when the sole or tread is worn or damaged
  • provide footwear guidance or requirements for workplace visitors, contractors etc.

The best footwear for work

'Sensible' footwear for most work tasks has these features:

  • flat shoes and enclosed shoes
  • well fastened and firmly grip the foot
  • flexible, cushioned sole
  • support and grip around the heel
  • comfortable to wear all shift
  • sole tread suited to likely 'contaminants' without the tread becoming clogged
  • tread kept clean and in good condition.

'Slip-resistant' footwear for workers more exposed to slips has these additional features:

  • specifically chosen to suit the workplace and tasks ('try before you buy' if possible)
  • non-slip performance on both wet and dry if required – they may differ
  • well-defined tread pattern – the more edges, the firmer the grip
  • bevelled or rounded heel edge
  • rubber soles offer more slip resistance on wet floors than polyurethane soles
  • tread patterns suited to the size and type of contaminants (e.g. indoor work on smooth floors with thin liquid contaminants may have flexible soles with fine tread, while shoes used in rough outdoor areas require deeper, larger treads, and/or the addition of special cleats or studs to provide extra traction).