IRSST - Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail

Facteurs de risque associés aux glissades chez les policiers et les brigadiers scolaires – Étude exploratoire


Between 2005 and 2007, work-related accidents involving slips, trips and falls (STFs) on the same level represented 12.6% of all injuries compensated by the Commission de la santé et de la sécurité du travail du Québec (CSST) and resulted in payouts of $90 million. Two occupational groups?police officers and school crossing guards?approached the Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail (IRSST) for its assistance in reducing and/or preventing slipping incidents, which overall represent nearly half of all STF accidents. An exploratory study was carried out to document the problem and ultimately to better target preventive measures. The main objective was to identify the risk factors associated with slipping incidents/accidents in order to propose possible future avenues of research that will help meet these workers’ needs. The research activity was carried out in collaboration with organizations working to prevent accidents and preserve occupational safety.

This activity was carried out in three steps: 1) a review of the scientific literature, which led to the production of a knowledge inventory on the slip problem for the purpose of identifying the risk factors in general terms, understanding the mechanics of human movements on slippery and inclined surfaces, and establishing the relationships between footwear and accidents; 2) an examination of descriptive statistics on slip accidents/incidents among police officers and school crossing guards for the 2007-2009 period, in order to determine the circumstances under which these events occur and to assess the relative importance of the various risk factors in the two target populations; and 3) focus groups with police officers, school crossing guards and highway controllers, in order to gain insight into possible relationships between the various risk factors and to tackle the issue of worker footwear.

The results obtained in this study led to a proposed model that provides an overview of the risk factors for the target populations, the interaction among these factors, and their level of impact on the risk of slip accidents. This comprehensive approach to the problem allows for better targeting of preventive measures. The model shows slip accidents as the result of interactions among various risk factors. Friction at the footwear/ground interface is immediately associated with these accidents as it constitutes the primary risk factor. Then come secondary risk factors, which have a direct impact on these slips and characterize the friction at the footwear/ground interface. These secondary factors may be intrinsic, in this case physiological or behavioural, or extrinsic, that is, related to the physical work environment or the work activity. Lastly, the third category of risk factors includes work organization aspects that have a broader impact on the presence of secondary risk factors or their level of impact.

Recommendations for workplaces and for future research were put forward following this activity. Proposals were also made about possible research avenues to be pursued in order to meet prevention needs more effectively and address problems for which no solutions are offered in the scientific literature. These concern mainly outdoor surfaces, particularly under winter conditions, and stairs. The proposed research avenues include more in-depth study of the role of the risk factors, study of the mechanisms of human movement on slippery surfaces with a view to developing postural control and accident prevention strategies, and furthering knowledge on the relationship between footwear characteristics and slip accidents in snowy, icy conditions.

Additional Information

Category: Research Report
  • Chantal Gauvin
  • David Pearsall
  • Mohsen Damavandi
  • Yannick Michaud-Paquette
  • Bruno Farbos
  • Daniel Imbeau
Research Project: 0099-8760
Online since: December 10, 2014
Format: Text