Study: Better shoes, flooring can reduce slips, trips and falls
Researchers recruited 475 workers from 36 limited-service restaurants in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Wisconsin from 2007 to 2008. The results were published in the April issue of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
- The use of slip-resistant shoes was associated with a 54 percent reduction in the reported rate of slipping.
- The rate of slipping decreased by 21 percent for each 0.1 increase in the mean kitchen coefficient of friction.
Coefficient of friction and floor surface roughness are widely used measures of the slip-resistance property of a floor, according to the authors. The role of friction is "crucial in understanding the causation of slips. When the available friction at the floor surface/shoe sole interface is not able to counteract shear forces generated by a foot during walking, a slip is likely to occur."
Slips and falls are a leading cause of work-related injuries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently projected a "significant increase from 2004 to 2014 in the number of injuries due to falls," according to the study.
The authors also cited figures from the Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index saying the direct cost of slips, trips and fall-related injuries in 2007 was $7.7 billion, and the inflation-adjusted cost of injuries at work due to same-level falls increased 47 percent from 1998 to 2007.
The authors say more research is needed in the area of slip-resistant shoes. "Although we found slip-resistant shoes to be effective in reducing the rate of slipping, there are no definite criteria for labeling shoes as slip-resistant, and all shoes marketed as 'slip resistant' may not provide similar slip resistance."
The study also indicated more research is needed to understand the role of floor cleaning. "We found that increasing floor-cleaning frequency was associated with a reduced rate of slipping in the unadjusted analysis. However, this association was not significant in the multivariable analysis. Although effective floor cleaning is important for maintaining the slip resistance of the floor surface, ineffective floor cleaning and wet floor surfaces after mopping may increase the risk of slipping."
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April 14, 2011
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