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Working outdoors whether in construction, on a rigger, or as any type of manual labourer requires some thought into the type of clothing and work boots you wear. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is available as a vital component of health and safety regulations to ensure that your body is protected when coming into contact with the hazards of the job. PPE equipment is available to protect workers with an entire outfit from head to toe, and it is the feet that are focused on in this guide.
People who work outdoors can be at risk of developing certain physical ailments either due to extreme weather conditions or as a result of hazardous equipment and materials that they may be working with.
Cold temperatures are common across the UK and can drop below zero. For employees and contractors who must be outdoors in these conditions, whether working throughout the winter or even just when the temperature drops at night, special care needs to be taken to look after the feet.
If your feet are exposed to wet and cold weather for a long period of time and without adequate protection, then you are at risk of developing trench foot. This condition occurs when the tissue of the feet is damaged, resulting in pain, swelling and even sensory disturbances in the nerve endings. Investing in safety boots such as the Alaska Freezer Safety boot ensures that workers will be fully protected at temperatures of up to -40C. This product is available from as low as £49.99 – the boots are fully water repellent and ultra fur-lined for added comfort and protection.
Trench foot isn’t the only condition related to cold, wet weather. Instances of frostbite and blisters are also prevalent in workers who are not fully protected. These are both preventable if you wear a boot such as the Portwest Compositelite All Weather S3 WR product which has a waterproof membrane and an oil resistant outsole. Or also the Silt Neoprene safety wellies shown below which come with a fibreglass protective toecap and 5mm neoprene upper.
Originally designed to be used by people working on oil riggers, the idea behind these slip-on boots is that they could be pulled off quickly in an emergency if the wearer was to fall into deep water. A cross between wellies and a lace-up boot, rigger boots are now popular in other industries, particularly the construction sector. A pair of rigger boots vary in price from around £15.95 at the lower end of the scale to £52.44 at the upper end, so you have plenty of choice available depending on both your budget and the features you’re interested in.
Construction workers often face daily hazards such as dealing with heavy equipment or machinery that could fall on them. Dropping a piece of scaffolding on your toes could put you out of work for an extended period of time, as could something as simple as standing on an uncovered nail by accident. A wide range of choice exists for boots or shoes offering defence from penetration and shielding the delicate bones and tendons in the foot from potential damage. Steel toe-capped boots are common amongst construction workers and manual labourers, as they offer durability, are scuff-proof and they offer perfect protection for the wearer.
Some roles require the employee to have full rotation of the ankle, so as to avoid the possibility of experiencing a twist or sprain. Because of this, some construction sites have strict rules about the specific type of safety shoe or boot that is acceptable for wear on the job. If a full boot isn’t advisable, then there are also various safety shoes that allow freedom of movement for the ankle whilst providing excellent protection mid-sole and over the toes.
As an employer, it is your job to provide appropriate safety boots to shield your workers from any hazards to their physical health and wellbeing. Work boots or safety shoes are an investment and are extremely affordable particularly if you’re making a bulk purchase. Always check that the features of the footwear that you’re buying to ensure that they comply with industry regulations – for example, look for the CE marking as required by European Regulation (EU) 2016/425. Be aware that it is never appropriate to pass on the costs of this PPE uniform to your employees.
When your employer provides you with a quality pair of PPE boots or safety shoes to wear, alongside other protective or hi-vis clothing, it is your responsibility to wear your uniform whenever you’re working and to keep your kit in good working order. When wear and tear occurs, you should report this to your supervisor so that they can provide you with replacement PPE kit to ensure your health and safety.
PPE Supplies Direct stocks a comprehensive range of safety footwear. If you would like to place an order or simply have any queries about any of the specific products, get in touch with us on 0808 109 6099!