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Product Focus: Foot Protection

Trends in ... foot protection

Advice and tips

May 23, 2014

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Determining proper fit for safety footwear can be daunting. In a joint email to Safety+Health, Candace Metzgar, communications and events coordinator, and Katherine Tersigni, marketing manager for Cambridge, Ontario-based Kodiak Group Holdings Co. (an affiliate of Williamson-Dickie Mfg. Co.), recommended several tips for achieving the proper fit for work boots.

Metzgar and Tersigni wrote that safety footwear should fit snugly around the ankle and foot, and a worker’s heels should not slip, as slipping can cause blisters and decrease stability. They also advised keeping a half-inch distance between the toes and the front of the shoe’s protective cap.

Chris Heffernan, general manager, industrial footwear at Smithfield, RI-based Honeywell Safety Products, believes safety managers should take the lead when determining the proper footwear for a job. “It’s best for safety managers to assess the environment and hazard each worker will be exposed to, and to work with their PPE dealer to fit their workers with the best solution,” Heffernan said.

Advancements

“I think one of the most exciting new technologies is the impact protection of PORON XRD for workers that are required to wear metatarsal protection,” Heffernan continued. Calling this technology a game changer, he praised the cushion’s soft and flexible material, and said its best quality is that “it can be struck over and over – and each time it returns to its original soft, pliable state, for long-time use and wearer comfort.”

However, he noted that people mistakenly believe PORON XRD provides protection from compression. “The standard test method for metatarsal protection involves an impact measurement only, not a compression test,” he cautioned.

Advice

When asked about purchasing footwear for chemical protection, Brandon Barker, brand manager for Fort Worth, TX-based Justin Original Workboots, said wearers must pay close attention to the outsole construction. “Anything that uses lightweight EVA seems to be the biggest issue,” he said. “I highly recommend the consumer look for PU or rubber in the outsoles if they work in chemical environments.”

Heffernan believes employers and workers need to know which protective elements are necessary for specific jobs. “Seek training, information and guidance from your PPE dealer; ask if they can bring in the manufacturer representative [and] collect as much information as you can when making safety decisions,” he said.

Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association

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