Mechanical Engineering Department Seminar

The Tribology of Slip and Fall Accidents: Seeking Effective Interventions



Synopsis: Slip and fall accidents cause millions of adults to seek medical care each year and have an economic impact on the order of tens of billions of dollars. An understanding of the mechanics of slipping, specifically the tribology of the shoe-floor-contaminant interface, can inform new footwear and flooring designs and safety interventions. This seminar will describe our research efforts to quantify the tribology mechanisms relevant to slip events. Furthermore, the footwear and flooring design features that can leverage these relevant mechanisms will be discussed. In particular, two mechanisms will be discussed: hydrodynamic lubrication between the shoe and floor surface; and friction developed by the contacting shoe and floor asperities. Our research has indicated that improved traction can be accomplished through footwear that has the geometry and material properties to achieve high contact area and continuous tread channels. Furthermore, our research informs when worn shoes should be replaced. Lastly, flooring roughness on the micron and sub-micron scale contribute to shoe-floor friction. Implementation of these research findings is expected to lead to reduced injury burden and healthcare cost savings.


Bio: Kurt Beschorner is an Associate Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh. His research mission is to apply core competencies in tribology, biomechanics and ergonomics to prevent falling accidents. His research is currently supported by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (CDC) and the National Institute on Aging (NIH). He received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and his Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the University of Pittsburgh. He was previously an Assistant Professor of Industrial Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.


Friday, March 15 at 10:00am

Palmer Engineering, 105

Event Type

Lectures and Seminars


College of Engineering, Mechanical Engineering

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