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Understanding slip ratings

Is SRC the best slip rating for the work place?

The key part of this question is ‘best for the work place’. SRC is currently the top rating for slip resistance under the EN ISO 20345:2011 standard and requires passing both the SRA and SRB test for it to achieve the rating. These tests are carried out on a testing rig under laboratory conditions using two specified surfaces: SRA uses a ceramic floor tile wetted with soapy solution and SRB a smooth stainless steel with glycerol. To pass SRC soles tend to have a lot of surface contact and many small cleats for water dispersal.

If we take for instance a job that involves working outdoors in loose mud or gravel, a typical SRC sole may certainly not be the best as they are much more prone to clog, thereby reducing slip resistance when in contact with natural loose surface, rather like a racing slick tyre. In this instance a large cleated sole would provide much better performance. However it may only be able to get an SRA pass on a test due to the smooth surfaces being tested on and less surface contact generally than an SRC.

These tests provide useful comparative data but do not tell you how the shoes will perform in your particular workplace on your work surfaces with any contaminants that may be encountered.

So how to get the best footwear for the work place?

The only way to really qualify footwear performance for a specific workplace application is through means of a wearer trial. Through our trial process we are able to get feedback from the wearers on how the sole performs in the real environment whilst going through the human gait cycle. The current test only tests on smooth surfaces and does not replicate a human gait cycle.

HSE make the following recommendation:

‘Consider asking your supplier to provide trial pairs to help you make the right choice, and do not select footwear on the basis of brochure descriptions or laboratory test results alone.’

‘Footwear trials should involve a representative sample of the workforce and last long enough to produce meaningful results. Remember – workers may not wear footwear if it is uncomfortable or impractical, no matter how effective it is.’

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