Product Focus: Foot protection

Trends in ... foot protection

Here, industry insiders discuss what’s new in foot protection and the importance of traction.

Something new

“Oversized cushioning that doesn’t come at the cost of stability is one of the most promising overall protection technologies,” said Stuart Jenkins, CEO and chief innovation officer for West Palm Beach, FL-based SHOES FOR CREWS. “The increase in cushioning protects your whole body from impact, which is very important for workers.”

Don’t underestimate traction

A hallmark of a good work shoe is good traction, said John Milburn, president of STABIL, a 32north Inc. company based in Biddeford, ME. The first consideration before picking a shoe is understanding the work environment.

“There are … some exceptional ice cleat accessory products that fit over shoes and boots,” Milburn said. “Because metal cleats provide the best traction in ice and snow, having the ability to take them off when the user transitions inside is very helpful.”

For indoor nonslip considerations, Milburn pointed to traction devices. “For indoor traction, 75 percent of effectiveness is the footwear tread, which makes removable products much more effective because they are not worn outside where the tread tends to get filled up with dirt,” he said.

One potential problem with traction devices is not being able to get the device properly secured to the footwear. To help prevent this, do your research. “There are good applications and bad, so make sure you find products that have been successful in the market,” Milburn said.

Jenkins warns of the dangers of using a slip-resistant outsole in the wrong environment. “Slippery floors require a specifically formulated outsole, while environments with large particulate matter (cornmeal, candy, flour) require a clog-resistant outsole, for example,” Jenkins said. “Using regular athletic shoes in work environments with any kind of liquid hazard is a recipe for injury,” he said, adding that it would be like walking onto a jobsite with a hair net instead of a hard hat.

Ultimately, finding the right shoe is critical. “Shoes can be expensive, but life is priceless, and if the leadership doesn’t invest in safety, you’re likely working in an environment that can be unsafe,” Jenkins said.

Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association

Coming next month:
Hand protection

Post a comment to this article

Safety+Health welcomes comments that promote respectful dialogue. Please stay on topic. Comments that contain personal attacks, profanity or abusive language – or those aggressively promoting products or services – will be removed. We reserve the right to determine which comments violate our comment policy. (Anonymous comments are welcome; merely skip the “name” field in the comment box. An email address is required but will not be included with your comment.)