Editorial | 01 December 2021

The Importance of Slip Resistant Footwear

With almost one in three injuries due to people losing their footing, slip resistance is one of the most important risks that PPE can help to mitigate.

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According to the 2019/20 HSE Workplace Health and Safety Report, slips, trips or falls accounted for 29% of all reported workplace injuries. With almost one in three injuries due to people losing their footing, slip resistance is one of the most important risks that PPE can help to mitigate, so when Blackrock are designing footwear it features highly in our priorities during the product development process.

Staying on your feet when it matters most is particularly crucial for the emergency services, who on a daily basis find themselves in high pressure situations where every second counts. When we were developing our Tactical footwear range, we knew that we needed something that delivered slip resistance above and beyond standard EN20347 slip ratings, so we focussed our R&D team on the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) GRIP scheme, an elite rating system reserved for soles that deliver ultra-high slip resistance. Our team designed HexaGrip: a sole unique to Blackrock tactical footwear that has a GRIP rating of 4 stars - the highest rating of any tactical footwear range in the market - that won’t let you down at the crucial moment.


How did we achieve our 4 star GRIP rating? Blackrock’s HexaGrip sole features hundreds of small hexagons, which engineers have long known to be the strongest geometric shape and which presents a large surface area which is vital for effective grip to reduce the chance of slips. Combined with the high friction rubber used in the sole’s construction, it makes for outstanding grip performance in dry conditions. The hexagons are divided into six segments, giving a network of micro drainage channels which, together with carefully positioned wider channels, disperses water away from the sole’s surface incredibly quickly and efficiently, maintaining superb grip in the wet.

We also identified the heel of the shoe as the area that causes the highest number of slips. By reprofiling the sole and angling the spine to mitigate the risk, we engineered it to ensure maximum contact area with the surface.

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Durability Testing

Slip resistance is obviously important, but durability is as essential a performance characteristic for footwear that you depend on to keep you on your feet. To ensure our footwear stood up to real world use beyond simple laboratory conditions, we tested it using a pedatron, a machine developed by accredited body SATRA which reproduces the motion of walking. A typical pedatron test is 10,000 steps but, we wanted HexaGrip’s durability to go way beyond standard performance, so it was tested to one million steps - that’s 100 times further which saw the pedatron walking 24 hours a day for over three weeks! After the test was complete, the sole was fully intact with no signs of breaking down. Satisfied that the structure had stood up to the test, it was tested for slip resistance against the EN20347 standard to gauge what toll the wear and tear of a million steps had taken. HexaGrip still achieved a rating of SRC - the highest level of slip resistance awarded to occupational and safety footwear standards.

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Tactical Footwear was engineered specifically to instil confidence in the emergency services: the confidence that it was well designed, comfortable and that crucially it would perform when it matters most. By developing a sole with the highest level of slip resistance on the market, Blackrock aims to make those people feel more secure when on duty, safe in the knowledge that they can focus on their jobs with one less thing to worry about.