Association of subjective ratings of slipperiness to heel displacement following contact with the floor

Appl Ergon. 2007 Sep;38(5):533-9. doi: 10.1016/j.apergo.2006.09.001. Epub 2006 Nov 13.


Falls precipitated by slipping are listed among the leading causes of occupational injuries. Several factors may influence the risk of slips and falls, including perception of surface conditions. The current research examined the relationship between perceptions of slipperiness and slip distance at heel strike. The investigation compared objective and subjective measures for 31 participants ranging in age from 19 to 67 years old. Subjective slipperiness ratings for several floor surface and walking velocity conditions were obtained. Small slips were not generally perceived, but a uniform slip distance threshold could not be identified due to the large variability in ratings. The Pearson correlation coefficient between slip distance and subjective ratings for slides (30-100mm) was r=-0.17. Results indicate that subjective ratings should be used cautiously as a measure of slipperiness, partially due to possible underestimation of slipperiness and the variability in perceptions.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Floors and Floorcoverings*
  • Friction*
  • Gait / physiology*
  • Heel*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • United States