Insufficient friction at the shoe-floor interface causes a large number of slip and falling accidents each year. Developing solutions for enhancing shoe-floor-contaminant friction requires understanding the mechanisms that contribute to slippery surfaces. Over the past several years, our research group has conducted several experimental and modeling studies to reveal the critical tribological mechanisms contributing to shoe-floor-contaminant friction. This extended abstract will discuss the findings of these studies to: 1) determine the lubrication regime(s) that is/are most relevant to under-shoe conditions during slipping; 2) quantify how under-shoe conditions, shoes and flooring affect the two main contributions to boundary lubrication: adhesion and hysteresis; and 3) describe how this information can be used to design slip-resistant shoes and flooring. To identify the lubrication regime, interfacial pressures at the shoe-floor-contaminant interface were measured and coefficient of friction was monitored. Low viscous fluids and shoes with at least 2mm of tread were found to have negligible interfacial pressures and moderate friction coefficients (0.07–0.40). Untreaded shoes combined with high viscous fluids led to high interfacial pressures that supported up to 40% of the normal load and low friction coefficients (<0.01). These results suggest that mixed/elasto-hydrodynamic lubrication is relevant in some untreaded conditions but that boundary lubrication is relevant for most other conditions. In boundary lubrication, the primary factors contributing to friction are adhesion and hysteresis. Experimental data and finite element models demonstrate that hysteresis friction increases with floor roughness and the ratio of shoe to floor hardness. Adhesion friction is dependent on real area of contact and the shear stress required to break junctions. Experimental data suggests that adhesion is dependent on the fluid lubricant, sliding speed, floor roughness and shoe material. Finite element models confirm that a reduction in the real area of contact occurs with increasing floor roughness and sliding speed, consistent with the experimental adhesion effects. Ensuring that the shoe-floor-fluid interface is operating in the boundary lubrication regime requires establishing minimum tread threshold for fluid lubricants that are likely to be found in a given environment. Designing a high hysteresis shoe-floor combination is preferred because it is relatively unaffected by fluid contaminants or under-shoe conditions (i.e. sliding speed). Therefore, ensuring a minimum tread depth is used along with increasing floor roughness and shoe to floor hardness may be effective in addition to minimum tread thresholds.

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