The right slip-resistant shoes are an essential purchase for many workers. From warehouses to restaurants, and manufacturing plants to hospitals, slip-resistant shoes are necessary to keep people on their feet no matter what hazards they encounter.
Simply wearing slip-resistant shoes can cut the chances of a slip in restaurants in half. But not enough people are wearing the right shoes: according to the National Floor Safety Institute, slips and falls are the primary cause of lost work days. Plus, by 2020, researchers anticipate 17 million slip and falls will occur in the U.S. annually, costing billions in health care.
Finding the right slip-resistant shoe isn’t always easy, though. For one, the slip-resistant label used by manufacturers doesn’t indicate the degree to which they’re slip resistant. Instead, it just means that the shoes meet the federal standard for slip resistance (which places the bar relatively low). Boot World is here to change that: we’ve developed our own rating system to offer our customers better guidance for slip-resistant footwear.
Why is this important? Actual slip resistance isn’t as simple as meeting a single standard. Not only do different materials and shoe construction affect slippage, but water, oil, and other contaminants influence the grip of slip-resistant shoes differently.
To stay as safe as possible in the workplace, it’s important to choose the right shoe for your needs. Here are some tips.
The Science of Slipping
A shoe slips because it loses friction. In other words, the shoe is unable to stop moving. To illustrate, think about how friction works with tires: High-performance tires are often much wider than their commuter counterparts because the larger surface area provides more friction for high-speed maneuvers.
The amount of friction available, which determines the slip resistance of a shoe (or a tire), is determined by many factors, including the flooring being walked upon, the sole’s composition and tread—even the internal sole affects the slip resistance of a shoe.
Let’s get one common myth out of the way: the feel of the sole doesn’t always correspond to the slip resistance of a shoe. Soles made of polyurethane feel slick and slippery to the touch but are actually ideal for slippery environments like a kitchen. The tread patterns, manufacturer’s slip-resistant label, or sole material won’t tell you the whole story.
Lab testing, while useful to establish a baseline, fails to capture the real-life slip resistance of shoes. Many tests utilize a small 2”x2” patch of a sole to test their resistance, but they don’t account for all of the factors that can occur in the real world.
We’ve gone a step further at Boot World to offer slip-resistance guidance to our customers.
Finding Professional Grade Slip-Resistant Shoes
Real-world experience with shoes in a variety of scenarios is key to getting the right amount of slip resistance for your needs. That’s where buying from an experienced store like Boot World can make all the difference. With over 40 years of experience, the staff at Boot World has the knowledge to help you pick out the appropriate sole and shoe for your particular needs so you stay safe and pleased with your footwear. We’ve rated all of our shoes to help you work confidently in your specific work conditions.
Granted, most workplaces won’t require Professional Grade slip resistance. Manufacturer labels indicating general slip resistance are enough for some workers. But, if your job requires the highest level of slip-resistant shoes, we’ve got you covered. You know what we’re talking about: Wet environments like kitchens, bathrooms, machine shops, etc., demand Professional Grade slip-resistance.
That’s why we created the Slip-Resistant PRO label to indicate the highest level of slip resistance possible. Just check the product descriptions for our wide selection of slip-resistant shoes online or ask a Boot World team member at one of our convenient locations for our Slip-Resistant PRO footwear.
A Final Boot World Advantage Tip: In the real world, no shoe is 100% slip resistant. Besides finding the most slip-resistant shoe possible, the key to staying on your feet is keeping the floor (and your soles) free of contaminants. Water and oil spilled on the floor is an obvious threat, but so are small rocks, glass and food contaminants that can embed in your soles—turning even the most slip-resistant shoe into a slip-and-slide.