What's on Your Feet This Winter?

In a recent blog, I discussed strategies for slip and fall prevention.  In this article, we will look more closely at avoiding slip fall incidents through footwear choice rather than surface maintenance.

Slips happen when there is too little friction between what’s on your feet and the surface you’re traversing.  That friction is dependent upon the texture and amount of contact of the two surfaces moving across one another as well as the force applied.  Like car tires, your shoes keep you firmly attached to the surface.  There are many different tread types designed for specific surfaces and environmental conditions you may encounter.

The deeper and more widely spaced the tread pattern, the more loose material (i.e.: gravel or snow) it can accommodate and still contact the stable surface below.  Because there are fewer contact points with the surface this tread pattern isn’t great for hard wet/oily surfaces like tile or concrete.

A deeply scored, but closely spaced tread pattern can readily squeeze out liquids and provide more surface area for contact with the surface underneath.  There is little room for bulky materials in the tread, allowing clogging and limiting friction.

Some manufactures try to combine the two using a moderately deep tread and varying the size and spacing of the lugs.

Consider the surface you may encounter.  Is it wet or oily concrete or tile, outside on gravel and pavement, or outside in a wintry frozen environment?  Or will you be exposed to multiple surface types?

One type of shoe/boot may not suffice due to exposures.  An alternative to multiple shoes are traction enhancers that can be put on and taken off as the demands of the environment change.  They come in many styles and types from spikes and screw corks to chains and overshoes with media embedded in the soles.

Here are some links for more information: 

Try searching:  “Slip Resistant Footwear”, “Microspikes”, “Yaktrax”, or “Stabilicers"

Since we don’t always have control of the condition of the surface we work on our footwear choices play a big part in keeping us upright as we work.