Food services operations where workers received free highly slip-resistant shoes showed a large reduction in workers’ compensation claims for slip injuries compared to food service operations where workers did not receive the shoes, according to research published in the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health.

Slips, trips, and falls are the third-leading cause of U.S. non-fatal work-related injuries involving days away from work across all industries. Almost 80% of these injuries are on the same level, and these injuries are estimated to cost nearly $13 billion in direct workers’ compensation-related costs annually. Laboratory tests have shown that slip-resistant shoes designed with a special tread helped prevent slipping, but studies in actual workplaces were lacking.

To address this research gap, investigators looked at whether a no–cost-to-workers slip-resistant shoe program decreased the risk of slip injuries among food services workers. The shoes provided were 5-star rated for slip-resistance as determined in independent laboratory tests. From August 1, 2009 to December 31, 2013, approximately 17,000 food services workers from 226 school districts, serving students in kindergarten through 12th grade participated in the study. Workers were randomly assigned at the school district level to a group that received no-cost 5-star rated slip-resistant shoes or to a group that did not. Investigators looked specifically at workers’ compensation injury claims caused by slipping on wet or greasy surfaces, the type of incident that the shoes were designed to prevent. School districts filed 67% fewer claims for slip injuries after being provided the slip-resistant shoes, compared to no reduction in claims for slip injuries at the school districts that did not receive the shoes. These results show that providing highly rated slip-resistant shoes can help reduce claims for slip injuries.

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Source: NIOSH