When it comes to safety footwear, it may seem like splitting hairs, but the devil really is in the detail.
We are surprised how many clients come to us for help in sourcing safety shoes whose soles can withstand the day-to-day demands of working in a busy warehouse or carrying out deliveries.
Let’s be very clear on this – the sole of a safety shoe should not split through normal use. Whether you’re walking on uneven surfaces, kneeling down, reaching up, or just getting your steps in walking the warehouse floor, you shouldn’t have to worry that you’re working towards a gaping chasm every time you put your foot to the floor.
Unfortunately, though, despite the wealth of information out there, people don’t always know what they’re looking for when purchasing safety footwear.
In this blog, we offer our three golden rules for safety shoe shopping to avoid split soles and other common problems.
#1 Price matters
You needn’t spend a fortune to get a good quality safety shoe, but a budget of – say – £50 per pair is going to give you a lot more choice than a limit of £25 per pair (yes, there are companies out there that think £25 is sufficient – we won’t name any names!). It’s not complicated – cheap products are manufactured using cheap materials and inconsistent processes, and they simply cannot protect your employees’ feet in the same way that appropriately-priced safety footwear can.
Having said that, you also don’t need to break the bank. We’ve saved one well-known parcel delivery firm in the region of £80,000 over the past two years… by providing them with a more expensive safety shoe. Our high-quality safety footwear is proven to last longer than cheaper alternatives, saving clients money in the long run for not much more initial investment.
#2 Tread carefully
When you’re looking at any example of safety footwear, it’s important to turn it over and examine the tread on the sole of the shoe. Rather than the tread pattern being a purely decorative feature as people may think, its design can affect the durability of the shoe under flex.
The trick to spotting unsuitable tread patterns is to bend the shoe in the way that you would if you were wearing it and reaching up high, with your heel off the floor. If the crease point lines up with an indentation in the tread pattern on the sole, then you have a potential problem, as repeated stress in this area is likely to lead to splitting over time. Instead, look for tread patterns that span this line, offering more rigid support to this vulnerable area of the sole.
Another tip is to look out for air bubbles in the tread. This is a sign of a less dense PU resulting from a cheap manufacturing process, and may indicate a less durable product. High quality manufacturing processes use higher pressure injection to form a denser sole unit with cleaner lines and fewer air bubbles.
#3 A stitch in time saves nine…
While you’re examining a safety shoe, take time to look at the stitching. You want to see double lines of consistently sized and spaced stitches, with even distance between the lines across the entire shoe.
Single, inconsistent and cross-stitching are indicators of a low quality manufacturing process, and may indicate a less durable product.
As with the tread pattern, look for lines of stitching that run close to or in the crease of the shoe when flexed - over time these seams can open up or tear.
Buying safety footwear that can withstand the day-to-day demands of the job shouldn’t be difficult. At iSB, we are experts in safety workwear of all kinds, including safety boots, safety shoes and safety trainers, and our team is always happy to answer any questions about our products. Give us a call on 0121 749 4433 or you can email us.
Download our latest Safety Footwear eBook, How To Choose The Right Safety Footwear For Your Business which helps focus on things to look out for.
Browse the full range of our safety footwear >>