Simon Ash, UK Sales Manager at HAIX traces the steps you need to take in selecting the right footwear
The Health and Safety Executive reports that between 2016/17, there were an estimated 111,000 slips, trips and falls across UK workplaces. This type of accident could increase in the winter months as conditions are particularly cold, wet and slippery. Wearing compliant and protective footwear is essential for protecting individual safety.
Slips, trips and falls were the highest cause of non-fatal injuries in the workplace in 2016/17, accounting for 29 per cent of all cases. Injuries caused by such accidents may mean an individual struggles to complete day-to-day tasks, resulting in a loss of earnings and they could also lead to more serious long term health problems.
To identify the relevant safety features needed for a particular task and environment, a risk assessment should be conducted, revealing potential workplace hazards. By conducting a risk assessment and having a complete understanding of all the potential hazards, the likelihood of workers suffering from slips, trips and falls, could be reduced.
To ensure footwear is anti-slip, it is tested according to the main safety standard, EN ISO20345:2011, with specific codes for certain conditions:
• SRA – tested on ceramic tile wetted with dilute soap solution
• SRB – tested on smooth steel with glycerol
• SRC – tested under both the above conditions.
If an individual is suffering from wet feet, it may cause concentration levels to drop as the wearer becomes more concerned about their comfort than the job in hand. This could lead to an accident, so providing waterproof footwear could reduce this risk. To be labelled as waterproof, boots should adhere to the EN ISO standard: 20345/20347. This is the minimum European standard manufacturers should achieve. HAIX boots exceed this standard, using a Gore-Tex membrane whose microscopic pores are 20,000 times smaller than a drop of water, ensuring the boot is completely and durably waterproof.
Breathing, Ventilating, Insulating
Other key footwear features to consider includes the incorporation of breathable and insulating materials into the boot. To keep feet ventilated when working hard, uppers (the part of the shoe covering the top, sides, back and toes of the foot) should be made from the appropriate leather or breathable material. This will ensure workers aren’t thinking about their feet and lack of comfort or feeling inadequately insulated.
Invest this winter
Footwear selection should be part of an ongoing assessment and monitoring process, ensuring employees understand the features they should be looking for. The importance of footwear as a core element of protection should never be underestimated. An investment in protective footwear is an investment in health.