Slip resistance of casual footwear: implications for falls in older adults

Gerontology. 2001 May-Jun;47(3):145-9. doi: 10.1159/000052788.


Background: A large proportion of falls in older people are caused by slipping. Previous occupational safety research suggests that inadequate footwear may contribute to slipping accidents; however, no studies have assessed the slip resistance of casual footwear.

Objective: To evaluate the slip resistance of different types of casual footwear over a range of common household surfaces.

Methods: The slip resistance of men's Oxford shoes and women's fashion shoes with different heel configurations was determined by measuring the dynamic coefficient of friction (DCoF) at heel contact (in both dry and wet conditions) on a bathroom tile, concrete, vinyl flooring and a terra cotta tile using a specially-designed piezoelectric force plate apparatus.

Results: Analysis of variance revealed significant shoe, surface, and shoe-surface interaction effects. Men's Oxford shoes exhibited higher average DCoF values than the women's fashion shoes, however, none of the shoes could be considered safe on wet surfaces. Application of a textured sole material did not improve slip resistance of any of the shoes on wet surfaces.

Conclusion: Heel geometry influences the slip resistance of casual footwear on common household surfaces. The suboptimal performance of all of the test shoes on wet surfaces suggests that a safety standard for casual footwear is required to assist in the development of safe footwear for older people.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accident Prevention*
  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control*
  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data*
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Shoes*