According to the Accident Fund Insurance Company of America, winter-related slips and falls “have a significant negative impact on American businesses each year, resulting in time off work, temporary-employee costs, overtime for existing employees and increased insurance costs.”
It doesn’t help that most winter boots are too slippery to walk safely on icy surfaces. This was proven by a team of Canadian researchers who have developed the first test of its kind in the world – the Maximum Achievable Angle (MAA) Testing Method – to validate slip resistant footwear on icy surfaces.
A new way to measure boot tread
Using real people in a simulated winter environment, researchers from iDAPT labs at Toronto’s Rehabilitation Institute-University Health Network tested the slip resistance of 98 winter boots, including both safety and casual footwear. Boots were tested by having participants walk back and forth on an icy floor, while team members slowly raised the angle of the floor. Participants walked on bare ice and melting ice, both uphill and downhill. The results, published on ratemytreads.com, show that only 8% of the boots tested met the minimum MAA slip resistance requirements.
The MAA rating system works this way: if a boot passes an angle of 7 degrees (which means it will have a score of 7), then it passes the MAA test and is on the list with one snowflake. If the boot has a score of 11 then it will get 2 snowflakes and if it reaches 15 or above, it will receive 3 snowflakes.
None of the boots tested received more than 1 snowflake, and 90 received none at all. Of the ones that successfully met the MAA standards, two technologies stood out – Green
Diamond and Arctic Grip. Shoes outfitted with Green Diamond or Arctic Grip soles have special outsole materials designed to provide better traction on wet ice, which may reduce the risk of slips and falls on slippery icy surfaces.
Here are the top four in both safety and casual footwear (the score they received is in brackets):
Dakota Women’s CTCP Transitional Boots (8.0)
Dakota “Transit” CTCP Transitional with Green Diamond (8.0)
Wolverine 19303 Glacier CSA Boot (8.0)
Dakota Men’s 9800 CTCP PU Boot with Green Diamond (7.0)
Sperry Men’s Cold Bay Vibram Arctic Grip Boot (10.0)
Caterpillar Stiction Hiker Ice+ Waterproof TX Boot (9.0)
Sperry Women’s Powder Valley Arctic Grip Winter Boots (9.0)
Windriver Men’s Yukon XL Winter Boot (9.0)
Check out ratemytreads.com for a full list of all the boots that were tested.
In the meantime…
We can’t change the weather, but we can practice caution and common sense to keep ourselves safe.
5 common-sense tips to avoid falling (and hurting yourself)*
1. Walk slowly and deliberately and wear boots or other slip-resistant footwear.
2. Be prepared for black-ice formation after melting occurs.
3. Exercise caution when getting in and out of vehicles.
4. Watch for slippery floors when entering buildings.
5. Avoid carrying items. Keep hands empty so arms are free to move for stabilization. Use backpacks if possible.
*From Accident Fund and United Heartland.