Building sites are more often than not soggy underfoot, but how can builders ensure that their footwear doesn’t let in water? John Dabb, Sales and Marketing Director at Hyde, distributor safety boot brand Base, looks at some remedies.
When it comes to suitable footwear for site work, much emphasis is placed on the need for safety boots with protective toe caps to ensure your feet end the day in the same state as they started.
While this is of course an unarguably important safety measure for builders, working in conditions that are wet underfoot presents just as much of a risk to health and safety as dropping heavy objects on to our feet.
By their very nature building sites are wet and boggy places, becoming even more so during the winter months. With the UK not renowned for its ‘dry season’, British builders are regularly exposed to damp and often water-logged conditions.
Regular safety boots may adhere to the site’s health and safety regulations, but they do little to prevent your feet getting soaked. Add to this cold and icy conditions and the water within the boot often freezes, making feet incredibly uncomfortable, incredibly quickly.
Water-logged or water-tight?
The problem goes beyond having to put up with working in soggy socks though; being exposed to such conditions can actually have quite serious consequences on the state of your feet. It doesn’t take prolonged exposure to wet footwear for this to be the case either.
In a very short space of time, foot immersion can cause problems, with one of the most common, and troublesome of complaints being trench foot (and that’s not a term you hear often these days!).
One of the most treated issues at the Glastonbury Festival during its muddiest years, foot immersion is a problem among builders too, and if not treated effectively can have potentially serious consequences.
Life in the trenches
Caused by exposure to damp, cold conditions, the condition is essentially the blood vessels constricting in an attempt to keep warm, by reducing blood flow to the extremities.
This reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients to the feet, which can result in tissue and nerve damage. The foot become numbs, changes colour, swells and starts to smell due to damage to the skin, blood vessels and nerves in the feet.
Left untreated, tissue and nerve damage occur, swelling increases and a constant pins and needles sensation begins. In extreme cases, blisters and ulcers develop, skin starts to peel off and tissues begin to die, resulting in gangrene.
Best foot forward
Unlike with frostbite, Trench Foot doesn’t require freezing temperatures, in fact it can develop in temperatures up to 16°C. Any wet environment, be it from excessive sweating to wearing damp socks and shoes can cause the condition.
Worryingly, it can take less than a day of exposure to poor conditions for Trench Foot, also known as Immersion Foot, to develop and it can take up to six months to fully recover.
The best way to avoid such a painful and potentially career limiting condition, is for builders to choose suitable footwear that puts safety first while also ensuring feet are dry and comfortable, regardless of how wet and cold conditions may become underfoot. BASE Be-Dry safety shoes, for example, feature advanced technology that keeps feet as dry as a bone, without compromising on safety or comfort.
A waterproof and light-weight breathable barrier keeps feet dry, cool and comfortable in all weathers. Fitted with a slim metal-free toe cap, composite midsole and microfiber thermal insulation, the boot’s double-density sole maximises comfort in all terrains too.
Providing stability underfoot when working on construction sites where there is a constant presence of water, the slip-resistant sole is thin, flexible and ultra-light, with a superior shock absorption that makes light work of rough and uneven surfaces.
Such solutions ensure that no matter how wet the conditions, builders can always put their best foot forward and make conditions such as trench foot a thing of the past.
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