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Slips, Trips and Falls

Reduce the risk of injury with slip-resistant shoes and boots

Slips, trips and falls are one of the most common types of injury in the UK workplace. In 2020/21, there were three fatalities and over 16,5001 reported non-fatal injuries in Great Britain alone.

If there's a risk of slipping in your workplace which can't be removed following the principles of the hierarchy of control, it is your responsibility as the employer to provide PPE and safety footwear to protect your employees against the risk of accident and injury.

If you do not have an existing risk assessment to refer to, you should carry one out to ensure that you select the appropriate footwear for any work environment. Here, we'll look at some of the most common hazards, what your responsibilities are as an employer and how to mitigate the risk of falls at work.

Slipping Hazards

The difficulty with slipping hazards is that there are so many causes. Leaks as a result of bad weather can create a hazard overnight. Accidental spillages and uneven wear of workplace flooring are just some of the other potential causes of slipping hazards.

Your legal responsibilities as an employer are clearly laid out in The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992. Flooring and routes must be properly maintained and where possible, kept free from obstructions to reduce the risk of injury. Holes, obstacles, uneven areas, slopes and slippery areas are all potential hazards which are identified in the regulations.

Someone wearing black shoes slipping on a spilt drink

As part of an integrated health and safety plan, such as regular flooring maintenance, slip-resistant shoes and boots with specially designed soles and tread patterns are an effective way to mitigate the risk of slips, trips and falls.


Slips, Trips and Falls in the Workplace

Slips, trips and falls are the most common cause of workplace injury and account for 33% of all reported non-fatal injuries in UK workplace2. 95% of major slips result in broken bones3.

This risk is widespread in UK factories, warehouses and workplaces. On average slips, trips and falls are responsible for3:

  • Over a third of all reported major injuries
  • 2 fatalities a year
  • Yearly cost to employers of over £500 million
  • 20% of over-3-day injuries to employees
Person wearing safety boots caught up in plastic wrapping on the floor in a warehouse workplace

Slip-Resistant Shoes and Boots

Choosing slip-resistant footwear from the array of products on the market can be difficult. Sole descriptions are varied, and often, footwear is just described as ‘slip-resistant’ with no description of the conditions for which the footwear is most suitable. Comfort, durability and other safety features required, such as toe protection, often mean that the final choice may have to be a compromise.

The first thing you should do is carry out a risk assessment to identify the potential slip risks. Are you dealing with water, oil or other contaminants? Is the floor wet occasionally or regularly? What surface or terrain are you working with? All of these factors will determine which type of slip-resistant shoe is best suited to the job.

EN Test for Slip-Resistance

Safety footwear must be tested in accordance with EN ISO 20345:2011 and must meet the requirements laid out within the standard.

In addition, all safety boots and shoes – except those with spikes and studs – must be tested for slip-resistance, in accordance with EN ISO 13287:2012.

A slip-resistance test measures the slip-resistance between the sole of the footwear and the floor. A normal walking step begins when the heel touches a surface and ends as the toe is lifted. Slip is most likely to occur shortly after the heel touches and just before the toe lift when reduced body weight is being applied. The test can show the resistance of a piece of footwear on the surfaces specified in the standard or measure how alternative flooring materials affect slip-resistance by comparing their performance when a particular shoe is used.

Lab supervisor looking at a safety shoe in the slip resistance tester

Distinctive codes make it easy to identify footwear which has passed the EN test for slip-resistance. This shows the footwear has been formally approved. The official codes are:


Footwear has been successfully tested on ceramic tiles with sodium lauryl solution.


Footwear has been successfully tested on a steel floor with glycerol.


This means the footwear has passed both of the above tests.

It is important to refer closely to your risk assessment when choosing the most appropriate safety footwear. Take into consideration the difference between the surfaces used in testing and those in your workplace. It may be necessary to source additional information about safety footwear to evaluate if it will effectively mitigate the unique risks you are dealing with.

Slip Rating Test Method Test Coefficient Friction Requirement
SRA Footwear tested on ceramic tile floor with sodium lauryl Forward heel slip
Forward flat slip
Not less than 0.28
Not less than 0.32
SRB Footwear tested on steel floor with glycerol Forward heel slip
Forward flat slip
Not less than 0.13
Not less than 0.18
SRC Tested and conforms to both of the above methods Product meets all of the requirements of SRA and SRB

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