The role of friction in the measurement of slipperiness, Part 1: friction mechanisms and definition of test conditions

Ergonomics. 2001 Oct 20;44(13):1217-32. doi: 10.1080/00140130110085574.


Friction has been widely used as a measure of slipperiness. However, controversies around friction measurements remain. The purposes of this paper are to summarize understanding about friction measurement related to slipperiness assessment of shoe and floor interface and to define test conditions based on biomechanical observations. In addition, friction mechanisms at shoe and floor interface on dry, liquid and solid contaminated, and on icy surfaces are discussed. It is concluded that static friction measurement, by the traditional use of a drag-type device, is only suitable for dry and clean surfaces, and dynamic and transition friction methods are needed to properly estimate the potential risk on contaminated surfaces. Furthermore, at least some of the conditions at the shoe/floor interface during actual slip accidents should be replicated as test conditions for friction measurements, such as sliding speed, contact pressure and normal force build-up rate.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control*
  • Biophysics / instrumentation
  • Biophysics / methods
  • Floors and Floorcoverings / instrumentation*
  • Floors and Floorcoverings / statistics & numerical data*
  • Friction*
  • Gait / physiology
  • Humans
  • Shoes
  • Surface Properties