Introduction Foot Protection Select PPE offers a wide variety of footwear from our network of premium suppliers, contributing to the level of quality and requirements needed to perform the task at hand, putting your safety first. What is safety footwear? Safety boots and safety footwear has various levels of protection. It is essential to ensure the correct level of protection depending on the potential hazards involved, to ensure maximum protection. Injury risks could include: • Impact by heavy objects, resulting in injuries • Sharp objects – risk of puncturing the sole • Absorption of elements – such as water or oil • Build-up of static electricity • Extreme temperatures When choosing safety footwear, consider the following: • Ensure Footwear Complies to the South African Standards • Material – leather or synthetic • Indoor or outdoor use • Temperature – hot or cold environments • Climate – weather conditions • Hazards – oil or chemical use. Footwear categories Safety footwear is available in a range of type/style, including: Safety boots: the most common type of safety footwear, incorporating protective toe-caps with many other safety features including slipresistant soles, penetration-resistant mid-soles and insulation against extremes of heat and cold. Safety shoes: like safety boots, these usually have protective steel toecaps although, as with safety boots, are available ‘metal free’ – so called composite footwear – which are lighter. Safety trainers: perhaps considered more aesthetically appealing by wearers, these look more casual. Some have steel toe caps while others are plastic – referred to as composite toe caps (as above). Riggers: these have been described as ‘a real stalwart of industrial footwear’4. A rigger boot is a particular type of pull-on safety boot; the name “rigger” comes from the fact that they were standard issue for workers on the offshore oil rigs in the North Sea, but are nowadays worn by most types of manual worker as a general purpose work boot. Concerns with this type of safety footwear have been raised, including a lack of ankle support. Clogs: these may also be used as safety footwear. They are traditionally made from beech wood and may be fitted with steel toe-caps and thin rubber soles for quieter tread. Anti-static protection Clothing, seating materials, and climate factors can cause a build up a static charge of electricity in the body. Some materials in footwear can over insulate the body causing the charge to be held. When you then touch something the charge can rush from your body quickly causing a spark and a small uncomfortable shock. Anti-static footwear will significantly reduce this effect but does not offer full protection for exposure to electronics and explosives work. You will need Electro-Static Protection (ESD) for this. Midsole penetration protection Sharp objects where we walk and stand are a significant risk not only in the workplace but also outdoors and at home. Midsole protection will guard against nails and other objects. To meet this standard the footwear must be able to resist a penetration force of 1100N. Midsole protection is provided in one of these methods: a stainless steel insert in the sole, aluminum insert in the sole, or by Kevlar insole. The Aluminum and Kevlar solutions are the most flexible and lightest and cover the greatest area of the foot. Kevlar insoles also offer much higher thermal insulation. Energy Absorption Energy Absorption in the heel region Water Resistant Upper Water resistant upper; not used on all rubber or polymeric footwear. Heat Resistant Heat resistant outsole: to resist 300°C for 60 seconds Non-metallic footwear Safety footwear containing no metal parts is ideal for workplaces with metal detectors like airports, eliminating the trouble of removing them. Slip Resistance However, as indicated in the PPE Directive, slip resistance is considered a ‘basic requirement’ of all PPE footwear. All safety footwear can have more features than are listed above but these are the minimum requirements to meet each of the safety ratings. Selecting the correct footwear for the hazard/risk Knowing the specific needs of your workplace environment is a key consideration. Is there a potential risk from falling objects, sharp surfaces or metals, or are chemicals or electrical hazards another potential risk? Footwear Descriptions Toe protection Your toes are a very vulnerable part of your body, especially in a workplace. Toe protection must withstand a 200 joule impact. Joule is the unit of energy and this standard is purposefully specific. Something heavy falling from a low height could have a lot less energy than something lighter from a much higher height. As well as impacts, the toe area must withstand a resting mass of well over 1000kg. Most people have heard of steel toe cap boots but the protection doesn’t have to be steel. In fact there are advantages to alternatives. Non-metallic protection can be equally as strong but lighter. 110 Select PPE Protecting People Everyday
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