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SAFETY FOOTWEAR Can Safety Footwear Be Comfortable And Effective?

When we plan ahead, we wear our most comfortable shoes to make sure our feet don’t ache, there are no blisters at the end of the day and our enjoyment isn’t spoiled.

W Supposing the job you do every day, seven

days a week requires you to be on your feet much of the time, possibly working in tough conditions, on slippery surfaces or uneven terrain, how do you choose your footwear then? Well, you certainly wouldn’t be able to wear those comfortable flip-flops that you wore walking the beaches this summer, or the sensible shoes you know won’t let you down on a long shopping trip. At work, your employer has a legal obligation to make sure that you aren’t at risk of any injury and that includes protecting your feet and preventing you from slipping and tripping.

Slips and trips in the workplace were the cause of over

10,000 accidents during 2008/9 and a third of all reported major injuries. These accidents not only cause suffering to the victim through pain, days off work and possible permanent disability but they cost the health service around £133m per year. These types of accident are preventable through the correct specification and wearing of safety footwear.

Now, that we know the facts and the importance of safety

e all know what it’s like to be on our feet all day, exploring a new city on holiday, trawling round the shops at Christmas, standing on the sidelines supporting our team.

comfortable and affordable safety footwear. Arco has lead the way in dramatically improving the shape and style of its safety footwear, paying particular attention to the design of the footbed and the last to produce footwear that imitates the shape and tread of the foot.

Let’s look at the selection process and the important criteria that the specifier must adhere to. Employers have a legal duty to safeguard their employees and remove or reduce any risks to their health or safety, as regulated by the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Firstly, he or she must complete a proper risk assessment which will consider the hazards in the work area including the type of surfaces and the possible contaminants that may be present. These could be solvents, oils or sharp objects or there could be a danger from heavy, falling objects onto the feet.

footwear in the workplace, let’s just go back to the important issue of comfort. As we’ve established, at home you can change your footwear to suit your activity, slippers in the morning when you get out of bed, trainers when you are venturing down to the gym and something fashionable for a night out on the town. At work, you will probably be issued with one pair of shoes or boots that you have to wear all day, each and every working day. It’s absolutely vital that this footwear is comfortable, so that you are happy wearing it all day, you aren’t tempted to change to your own shoes when nobody’s looking and then expose yourself to serious risk of slipping or falling and causing injury.

Arco, the UK’s leading safety specialist, has recently

completed an extensive piece of research to determine the concerns and priorities of both the specifiers and users of safety footwear. Specifiers are quite rightly concerned with compliance and ensuring that they provide employees with footwear that meets the right standards, are fit for purpose and fit the budget. The number one priority for users is comfort. Employees want shoes and boots that will keep them safe but that are comfortable to wear.

In the old days, safety footwear had a reputation for being

clumsy, inflexible, uncomfortable and definitely not ‘user friendly’. Respondents to the Arco survey recalled incidents in the past when they were expected to wear boots and shoes that were uncomfortable and looked clumsy. However, this is all changing as companies like Arco have invested heavily in research and product development in order to provide the very best in safe,

Slips and trips in the workplace were the cause of over 10,000 accidents during 2008/9 and a third of all reported major injuries. These types of accident are preventable through the correct specification and wearing of safety footwear.

The assessment will then consider the characteristics required of the safety footwear to protect against those hazards. Of course, the employer should first try to eliminate or reduce the hazard by keeping floor surfaces clean, looking at ways to prevent spills, keeping walkways clear of any obstructions and ensuring that adequate lighting is available.

Like any other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), safety footwear should only be used as a last resort.

If, as a result, a

risk has been identified and cannot be eliminated any other way, then protective equipment must be provided free of charge to the employee.

To speed up and ease the burden of the PPE selection

process and ensure compliance with legislation, it is always beneficial to seek the knowledge and experience of a specialist supplier. With years of experience, expert knowledge of legal

requirements and in-depth knowledge of a vast range of products, an unbiased safety equipment supplier can collaborate with specialist manufacturers, assess the situation on site and advise on a suitable and compatible range or brand of product. Partnering with a specialist supplier like Arco, can be beneficial in terms of expert advice, particularly for employers that require a range of PPE types across different applications or sites. In these circumstances, a rationalisation of core products

can save money and many man-hours each year. Arco can advise on the most appropriate safety footwear according to the working conditions.


• JANUARY 2011

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