Choosing Slip-Resistant Footwear

Jan 11, 2022
by Julie East

Recently, my daughter accepted a position at a local veterinary clinic.  Besides having to order scrubs as part of her uniform, she needed slip-resistant shoes. My thought…aren’t all shoes slip-resistant? Apparently, there is a host of slip-resistant footwear on the market, and choosing the right one for the conditions can be very difficult.

Choosing the right footwear has to take into account a number of factors in addition to slip resistance, such as comfort, durability and any other safety features required, like toe protection. The safety features of footwear are tested according to a set of European test standards and will be marked with one of the following codes:  SRA, SRB or SRC.

The codes indicate that the footwear has met the specified requirements when tested as follows:

  • SRA – tested on ceramic tile wetted with dilute soap solution;
  • SRB – tested on smooth steel with glycerol;
  • SRC – tested under both the above conditions.

The final choice on your footwear may have to be a compromise. Consider these when choosing slip-resistant shoes:


When selecting the right footwear for the job, it’s important to know what the floor environment will be. Shoes designed to be slip-resistant in wet, outdoor conditions may not be effective on a shop floor coated with oily overspray or chemicals. Likewise, shoes designed for hospital or restaurant workers dealing with water or food-based oils may quickly degrade in industrial cutting oils.

Fortunately, the slip-resistant footwear market has grown significantly over the past decade giving consumers many different options for different work environments.  Generally, a softer sole and close-packed tread pattern works well with fluid contaminants and indoor environments. A more open pattern works better outdoors or with solid contaminants. The only sure way to tell is to test footwear in your environment. A label of ‘Oil-resistant’ on a shoe does not mean ‘slip-resistant’.  Oil-resistant is just a statement that the soles will not be damaged by oil.


No single tread pattern is necessarily better than another. Although shoe manufacturers have a lot of material to explain how features of their tread patterns help improve safety, it’s important to understand how those features actually help with slip resistance.

  • Super-deep treads or patterns with a lot of voids can feel unstable. Choose a shoe with a grip that hits the ground firmly.
  • The more channels, the better. Tread tunnels channel water or oil away from the shoe. When you step in a liquid, it will choose the path of least resistance. If the tread has lots of channels or pathways to facilitate flow, it will provide a safer step.
  • Circular grips help prevent hydroplaning better than square or triangular-shaped grips.
  • Tread patterns can become clogged with waste or debris. Soles should be cleaned regularly. If your soles clog up frequently, look for an alternative design of tread with a wider space between the cleats and a deeper tread pattern.

No shoe is slip-proof. Just like with safety earplugs, glasses, gloves and other PPE, slip-resistant shoes help to reduce hazards and improve safety. And like those other PPEs, shoes don’t last forever. Safety footwear should be replaced from time to time. Establishing a regular change-out schedule helps ensure that shoes aren’t worn past their prime.


Workers have a right to a safe workplace. If you have questions regarding safety issues or training, contact Lofton Safety Services at 337-330-2642 or For other valuable worker protection information, such as Workers’ Rights, Employer Responsibilities, and other services OSHA offers, visit

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