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June 15, 2015

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Exhibitor spotlight: GRIP scheme

0204121_03Rob Shaw, technical team lead for the Health and Safety Laboratory’s Falls Prevention Team, explains the GRIP scheme, which has been designed to help reduce slips, trips and falls in the workplace.

What is the GRIP scheme?
The GRIP scheme is a method of assessing the slip resistance of footwear. Rated footwear will achieve a star rating between one and five, with one star being the rated footwear with the lowest slip resistance and five star the highest slip resistance.

Why is the scheme needed?
Slips, trips and falls are the leading cause of major injuries in the workplace. These injuries can be devastating for the individual involved and they generate a huge financial burden on industry. In 2013/14 slips, trips and falls accounted for over a third (35 per cent) of all employee injuries, they accounted for more than half of all reported major injuries and almost a third (29 per cent) of over-seven-day injuries to employees.[1] GRIP enables buyers to choose footwear that will help them to minimise the risk of workplace accidents, thereby reducing costs, claims and employee absences.

Is there not already a standard for the slip resistance of footwear?
The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) directive recognises the need for slip resistance as a protective property of footwear, and this is typically addressed through the use of mechanical footwear tests in a laboratory. One such mechanical test (BS EN ISO 13287: 2012) forms the basis of the commonly used standards BS EN ISO 20345:2011, BS EN ISO 20346:2004 + A1: 2007 and BS EN ISO 20347:2012, giving you slip resistance classifications SRA, SRB & SRC. The standards can be thought of as minimum requirements for footwear to be sold.

What does GRIP add?
The GRIP scheme provides a greater depth of information around the abilities of different types of footwear to resist slipping, enabling purchasers to select the footwear which offers the best performance for the particular work environment in which it will be worn.

How does the GRIP scheme work?
The GRIP is a voluntary scheme for footwear manufacturers who want to be able to demonstrate slip resistance beyond the minimum information provided by the standard. Testing is conducted on a ramp test, where an operator in a fall arrest harness walks repeatedly on a surface which is inclined until an angle is reached where a slip occurs. This test replicates pedestrian slipping much more closely than the mechanical test used in the standard. Footwear is tested on a slippery ceramic tile in order to find out what happens when you really push the limits of grip.

One to three star ratings represent increasing levels of slip resistance with water contamination. Four and five star footwear has to achieve the highest level of friction on the wet surface and an increasing level of slip resistance on the ceramic tile when contaminated with glycerol, a more viscous contaminant

Should everyone be looking for a five star boot?
No, a risk assessment should always be carried out. For most environments where water is the only contaminant two or three star footwear should be sufficient to prevent slips. In more challenging environments with more viscous contaminants, such as food manufacturing, four or five star footwear may be required to control the risk.

Where can the GRIP ratings be found?
More details on the GRIP scheme, including the handbook and the 2015/2016 GRIP ratings can be found at

Rob’s team of scientists and engineers undertake incident investigation, research and consultancy to find bespoke solutions to slip, trip and fall problems. HSL’s stand number is R2475.

1. HSE Statistics – Kind of Accident:

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