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Best foot forward

Published 18th June, 2015 by Neil Nixon

Best foot forward

Workers across all industries are putting themselves at risk by wearing footwear that is not appropriate for their work environment according to a warning from workplace equipment supplier Slingsby. As part of the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992, employers must provide workers with suitable footwear if there is a risk that cannot be eradicated through other controls and precautions.

Common hazards that footwear can help to protect against include injuries from slips, falling objects, electrostatic build-up, chemical splashes, and cuts and punctures. Slingsby supplies more than 35,000 workplace products across all industries including a comprehensive range of protective footwear and continually advises employers about suitable safety footwear for their employees.

Lee Wright, marketing director at Slingsby, said: “Choosing the right footwear is a crucial decision because as well as being comfortable, it must protect against potential hazards and all types of environmental conditions and we regularly visit workplaces where employees could improve both their health and safety simply by changing their footwear. There's a huge range available, from heavy duty wellington and rigger boots through to slip-on shoes and hiker style trainers. Generally rigger boots are best suited to building sites and other extreme outdoor environments. They usually feature steel toecaps and steel midsoles to protect against sharp or falling objects. For boots that also need to be waterproof, or able to withstand acids and chemicals, then safety wellingtons are a great solution. For less rugged safety footwear, leather remains the material of choice because it's durable, water resistant and very robust. However, it can be heavier and less breathable than nubuck or nylon mesh style safety trainers. These are lightweight, comfortable and are particularly popular for indoor job roles that offer dry conditions and minimal risks from puncture wounds. Other key footwear features can include slip-resistant soles, insulation to protect against the cold, and ankle protection, which is often good for people who are on their feet all day. Finally when it comes to size, while regular footwear can soften and expand over time, steel-toe caps make footwear far less flexible, so they need to be a good fit from the beginning. Those wearing insulated footwear in cold temperatures will often wear thicker socks so it's worth buying a slightly bigger boot to accommodate these.”

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