Outdoor workers can be plagued by foot problems during winter months. Clair Weston, Marketing Manager at uvex offers some advice for keeping feet fit whatever the weather
Problem: Wet feet
Wet feet are a major concern in winter as they can quickly lead to discomfort and cold-related health issues. For example, the friction from wet feet can lead to rubbing, sores and blisters. Prolonged code and wetness can also Dampness within footwear can also create a breeding ground for bacteria, leading to rashes, fungus and athlete’s foot.
Solution: Preventing water from entering the footwear is vital. uvex waterstop technology – as featured in the new uvex 2 construction – protects against water penetration four times longer than required by the European standard. It keeps feet protected and dry throughout the day without compromising breathability. Choosing models with fewer seams on the upper and the design of the tongue also help keep water and dirt out.
Problem: Smelly feet
Bacteria naturally live on your skin, including your feet. In a moist and warm environment like the inside of your shoes, these bacteria can thrive and multiply rapidly. As they break down sweat and skin cells, they produce odour-causing compounds. Moisture can also encourage the growth of bacterial and fungal skin infections, such as athlete’s foot. These infections can cause itching, burning, and contribute to foul smelling feet.
Solution: Not cleaning your feet regularly, not changing your socks, or wearing shoes without socks can exacerbate foot odour. Also, dirty feet provide more nutrients for bacteria to feed on so practicing good hygiene is key. It’s a good idea to get into the habit of airing boots to help ensure they dry properly and prevent them from becoming a breeding ground for smelly bacteria. Changing insoles regularly is also good practice, though it’s essential to make sure any new insoles are compatible with your footwear – bear this in mind before purchasing so you don’t compromise your protection.
Problem: Cold feet
Cold feet can cause physical discomfort and numbness. You may feel a tingling or pins-and-needles sensation in your feet. In extreme cases, prolonged exposure to cold can lead to frostbite, which can cause pain, tissue damage, and even long-term complications. Cold feet can affect your ability to move your toes and feet effectively. You may find it challenging to walk or perform fine motor tasks due to the reduced sensitivity and mobility caused by the cold.
Solution: Look for safety footwear with effective insulation – ideally boots that provide warmth while allowing your feet to breathe. The uvex quatro pro zip-up safety boot, for example, contains a fleece lining for extra warmth and an easy on-and-off zip, which comes in handy when wearing gloves. Climate control systems draw moisture away, leaving feet dry and creating a breathable and comfortable climate.
Problem: Not enough traction
Slippery surfaces are a major concern during winter with slips, trips and falls still a leading cause of workplace accidents. Preventing slips, trips & falls can be a particular difficulty for construction workers who may face additional challenges negotiating uneven terrain, slippery ladder treads or smooth surfaces.
Solution: Look for footwear with non-slip outsoles to provide excellent traction on snow and ice. uvex’s winter safety footwear, for example, is equipped with non-slip outsoles that excel on snowy and icy surfaces. Their specialised rubber compounds provide superior grip in cold conditions, reducing the risk of slips and falls. A rough, self-cleaning tread can provide good grip on uneven terrain and even on ladders or smooth surfaces.
Problem: Laces snapping
In colder weather, materials like plastic and certain types of fabric might become more brittle, which could make shoelaces more susceptible to breaking if they are subjected to excessive force or wear. Additionally, if shoelaces are frozen due to moisture, they might become more rigid and prone to snapping when bent or tied tightly.
Solution: Avoid overtightening your shoelaces, as this can put excessive stress on them. Make sure your knots are secure but not too tight. Moisture can weaken shoelaces, so try to keep laces dry, especially in cold weather when they might freeze. Regularly check your shoelaces for signs of wear and tear. If you notice fraying or damage, it’s best to replace them before they break. Alternatively look for no-tie lace systems such as the uvex quick-lace system which allows laces to be adjusted easily and adapts throughout the day keeping feet comfortable.
For more advice on safety footwear visit How to look after your footwear | Knowledge | uvex safety (uvex-safety.co.uk).