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Misconceptions

• More than toes

When choosing footwear, people often think about things dropping on the toe or punctures through the sole. In Europe, slips are the leading cause of accidents, accounting for nearly 30% of all reported accidents. A large number of foot injuries are ankle & metatarsal (front part of the foot) injuries. Sprains & breaks take you off the job too. Here is for instance what injuries occur in the construction trade:

      Toe: 21%      Sole: 13%       Metatarsal: 28%       Ankle: 30%      Heel: 8%

• Electrical hazard / anti-static / conductive

When it comes to categorise safety footwear from an electrical conductivity perspective, there are 3 general classifications:

Insulating (also known as Dielectric or Electrical Hazard)

– Anti-static footwear (also known as Dissipative Static Footwear) & Conductive footwear

Electrical Hazard: boots with Electrical Hazard protection provide a secondary source of protection from live circuits or wires. The soles provide a safety barrier to protect employees from open electrical currents up to 600 volts (under ASTM requirements), meaning low voltage and low risks tasks.

Important: Insulated soles shall not be used a primary electrical protection (rubber insulating gloves & rubber insulation blankets are examples of primary electrical protection). Secondary insulation normally insulates an employee's feet from a grounded surface.

Electrical hazard protection is severely deteriorated in the following conditions: excessive wear on the outsole and heel or exposure to wet & humid environments or both, metal particles become embedded in the sole of heel, or workers touch conductive, grounded items.

Non conductive footwear must not be used in explosive or hazardous locations.

Footwear, unlike the rubber gloves used for primary protection in utilities, as nothing to protect if from the effects of walking and from the effects of ozone & UV light. The makers and users of dielectric shoes point out this fact. They also note that some utilities attempt to lessen the chances of sole degradation by stamping a date on the footwear & replacing them after one year or less, depending on the frequency of use. All manufacturers & users recommend regular visual inspections and replacement when any sign of excessive wear exists.

• Anti-static footwear

Anti-static footwear provides a level of protection against electrical hazard situations (wall sockets not high voltage) but not as great as Electrical Hazards footwear. It is also designed to reduce the risk of electro-static build up by dissipating electrostatic charges (important in working environments such as micro-chips industry), thus avoiding the risk of spark ignition of, for example flammable substances and vapours.

• Conductive safety shoes

Conductive safety shoes are designed to 'conduct' Static Electricity through the shoes and into ground. Conductive Safety Shoes Dissipate Static Electricity much faster and more completely than Static Dissipating Safety Shoes. The reason is that Conductive Safety Shoes are worn in environments that are highly flammable and explosive, which means that reducing the possibility of a Static Spark or Discharge is critical to the safety of not only the employee, but the other employees in the immediate area and even citizens in the vicinity of the explosive area.

• Overshoes (strap-on safety toes)

Both US & European OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Organization) do not exclude add-on devices. In the US for instance, OSHA states that all footwear must meet ANSI standards or the employer must prove that it is equally effective.

If an employer provides documentation that their add-on devices have been tested and provide effective protection equivalent to the ANSI performance standards, then the devices are accepted by OSHA.

Most manufacturers of add-on devices submit them for testing in independent laboratories.

The same principle applies under the CE European marking system.

Our advice:

When composite toe-cap: choose 1 size above your regular shoe-size. Other shoes: choose your regular shoe-size.