Spotlight On – The HSL’s GRIP Scheme

The HSL’s GRIP Scheme

We come across slips, trips, and falls more often than we’d like to. Infact, they remain the most common cause of major injuries to employees. This got us looking at the HSL’s GRIP Scheme, and how this might help reduce the number of incidents. We thought we’d share what we found about it in this week’s Spotlight On article.

GRIP Scheme

The HSL’s GRIP Scheme is a system for rating the level of slip resistance provided by footwear in the workplace. It has been developed by HSL as a proactive step towards reducing slips in the workplace. If a manufacturer choses to participate in the scheme, their footwear is given a GRIP rating from 1 – 5 Stars, following rigorous testing.

Why is the GRIP Scheme important?

According to the HSE, slips and trips remain the most common cause of major injury to employees. Recent HSE findings show that:

  • 37% of reported employee injuries were caused by a slip, trip or fall from height.
  • 56% of all major injuries were the result of a slip, trip or fall.
  • 31% of over 7-day injuries resulted from a slip, trip or fall.
  • On average, 2 million working days are lost to such incidents.

Therefore, slips represent a major financial burden to businesses as well as a major source of injury to employees. By bringing greater control to the slip resistant properties of footwear, and providing better information to purchasers of workplace footwear, the HSL hope that the task of reducing the number slips in the workplace can be tackled.

Who does the GRIP Scheme help?

The GRIP Scheme helps businesses to choose the right level of slip resistance for their employees. In its effect, this will reduce business costs of related workplace injuries.

The scheme will also help to improve the quality of a workplace by reducing slipping accidents and ensuring staff are working in conditions which allow them the maximum protection against slips.

Footwear manufacturers can also benefit from the scheme as it allows them to clearly demonstrate the level of slip resistance to potential buyers. It is hoped that the testing system for GRIP rating will enable and encourage footwear manufacturers to improve the slip resistance of their footwear during the design and development process. Being able to quantifiably show their GRIP rating will give manufacturers a competitive advantage over non-rated footwear.

What does the GRIP Scheme mean for manufacturers?

For manufacturers, participation in the GRIP Scheme is a voluntary. The HSL will recover the costs of administration and footwear testing by charging manufacturers a fee for their rating. One of the benefits of participation in the scheme is that by having a GRIP rating for their product, the manufacturer will have a competitive advantage over unrated footwear.

It is hoped that, as well as reducing the incidence of workplace slips, the occurrence of GRIP testing will encourage manufacturers to improve the slip resistant properties of their footwear in a measurable manner.

By allowing manufacturers to demonstrate the slip resistant properties of their footwear in a quantifiable way to potential buyers, it is easier for manufacturers to manage the needs and expectations of their clients.

HSL will publish details of all rated footwear on the website. This will include the details of the make, model and soling identifier, as well as a photograph showing the soling unit tested.

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How is slip resistance measured?

In Gröngvist’s 1995 study, it was stated that:

“Pedestrian slip resistance is determined by the Coefficient of Friction (CoF) between two interacting surfaces, specifically the frictional properties or slipperiness of floors and footwear in actual conditions during locomotion” (Grönqvist, 1995).

It is therefore understood that friction is a direct indicator of slip risk, and it is suggested by further studies that any test to measure slip resistance should replicate the parameters of slipping. By closely replicating the critical point in pedestrian gait at which traction is lost, and recording when the friction required just exceeds the friction available, a valid test can be conducted.

Because the European PPE Directive recognises that slip resistance is a necessary protective property of footwear, manufacturers have previously wanted to demonstrate their compliance. Therefore other tests to GRIP testing are in use, but concerns have been raised that these tests are not always reliable or accurate enough. The HSL claim that the new GRIP tests have tackled these issues and therefore give more reliable results.

An HSL ramp test has been designed in order to create a rating, and footwear will be tested under different conditions, including different floor types, at different inclines.

The ratings are associated with a soling unit, regardless of the upper portion of the footwear it is attached to. In order to maintain their rating, soling materials must be retested annually.

Ratings and Prices:

The HSL have outlined four different levels of testing that manufacturers can choose from:

  1. Full Rating
    Manufacturers submit three pairs of footwear with identical soling units for testing. Footwear satisfying the rating criteria will receive the appropriate GRIP rating.
    Price: £2,900.00 (excluding VAT)
  2. Re-Rating
    Manufacturers submit one pair of footwear with identical soling units to that previously rated. Footwear satisfying the rating criteria will be able to extend their rating for a further year.
    Price: £1,490.00 (excluding VAT)
  3. Indicative Rating
    Manufacturers are able to submit one pair of footwear to receive an indicative rating
    Price: £970.00 (excluding VAT)
  4. Indicative to Full Rating
    Manufacturers are able to submit two additional pairs of footwear identical to that which received an indicative rating in order to be awarded the full rating.
    Price: £1,930.00 (excluding VAT)

You can find the ratings for 2015 here.


Following a risk assessment determining the likelihood of slips, the HSL recommend that businesses use the following ratings guidance when purchasing footwear:

  • One or Two Stars: For low hazard environments
  • Three or Four Stars: For businesses where slips are known to occur
  • Five Stars: For more challenging workplaces

By reviewing risk assessments, businesses should be able to monitor whether the right footwear is being worn. For example, if slips are still occurring in a business using Two Star GRIP rated footwear, an upgrade to Three Star may be necessary. If no slips are being recorded in businesses using Five Star GRIP rated footwear, a reduction of level may be deemed appropriate.


Whilst the scheme is being managed by the HSL, a manufacturer’s participation in the scheme, and subsequent rating, doesn’t constitute the footwear’s approval by the HSE.

The GRIP scheme only deals with the slip resistance of footwear and doesn’t deal with other safety requirements of workplace footwear, such as adequate toe protection. Therefore, further considerations do need to be taken into account when choosing the appropriate footwear for a workforce.


Further information on the scheme can be found here and here

Grönqvist R., (1995): A Dynamic Method for Assessing Pedestrian Slip Resistance, People and Work, Research Reports, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH), Helsinki.
Strandberg L., and Lanshammar H., (1981), The Dynamics of Slipping Accidents, Journal of Occupational Accidents, 3: 153-162.
Grönqvist R., Roine J., and Järvinen E., (1989), An Apparatus and a Method for Determining the Slip Resistance of Shoes and Floors by Simulation of Human Foot Motions, Ergonomics, Vol 32, No. 8, 979-995, Taylor & Francis Ltd., London.


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