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20 August 2021

Protective Footwear in the Workplace:
The G.Fox Ultimate Guide

Two men wearing protective footwear while working on a project

If you run a large operation, and especially one that has employees dealing with construction, chemicals or other potentially dangerous interactions, the right protective footwear can mean the difference between safe and efficient operations, and landing up with a costly lawsuit down the line. The right protective footwear can make doing any job easier, while providing peace of mind to employees that they don’t have to worry about their safety while on the job. This guide should answer any questions you have about protective footwear in the workplace, including the purpose, types and other basic employer responsibilities to get the most out of your workforce. 


The Purpose of Protective Footwear

Protective footwear, otherwise known as safety shoes, serves a very important function in any workplace. The right footwear can prepare anyone for more hazardous work tasks, and is designed to help prevent a wide variety of injuries. The right shoes can be compression, puncture or impact resistant, and mean the difference between a disgruntled employee and a productive one. Although there are regulations in place to keep workplaces safe, there may be blind spots to contend with that all employers should give a lot of thought to. 

These can range from the smallest to the biggest tasks as part of the supply chain, so it’s worth doing a safety audit that covers all aspects of operations at regular intervals. The health and wellbeing of any workforce should be front of mind no matter the industry or sector, especially as it reduces the risk of high turnover, and because it’s the right thing for any leader to do. 


Common Roles That Need Protective Footwear

Protective footwear is needed across a variety of different roles in the workplace, including construction and other building projects, flammable environments, anything involving manual handling, as well as the operation of heavy machinery. It can also come in handy for tasks requiring exposure to chemicals, all the way from cleaning through to scientific study. In some cases, a job might just require the employee to carry a lot of heavy items, which runs the risk of it being dropped and the person’s feet being injured. 

Although no amount of footwear will protect the wearer from heavy impact (like from a stone or boulder), it can help to minimise the blow and potentially save the limb in the process. In particularly wet conditions, safety shoes can mean the difference between blistering feet that may even get infected over time, and waterproof ones that allow the person to thrive in their specific roles. 


Types of Protective Footwear to Consider

There are a couple of protective footwear types to consider, including safety boots, shoes and Wellington boots. Safety shoes with steel toe caps can mean the difference between a broken foot and a healthy one. Wellington boots are perfect for employees that have to work outside in an array of working conditions, like tree fellers, manual laborers and even cattle herders. Within these ranges of protective footwear, some may come with chemical resistant soles, be highly insulated from water, or even have soles that avoid exposure to electric shocks. 

Sole materials matter more than you might think, and require some research depending on the types of tasks that are related to your supply chain. PU soles, for example, are abrasion resistant, making them ideal for the manufacturing industry. Safety shoes are equipped for all kinds of conditions, but as an employer it is your responsibility to match up the right equipment for the right job.


Protective footwear that can be used in the workplace

Maintenance Considerations

It’s one thing to invest in new pairs of shoes for the workforce, but it’s an entirely different thing to get the most out of them by making sure they are well looked after and maintained. The last thing you want is to have to cut into the bottom line by replacing shoes every other month, especially if proper maintenance can give the safety shoes a bit of extra life. This is not a hard and fast rule, as some shoes may wear out quickly with excessive use over short periods. As a whole, even these shoes can have their shelf life prolonged through regular cleaning, checking the soles, doing repairs on splits, spending on replacing shoelaces where possible, and generally incorporating regular checks into operations to make sure that the team is well protected at all times. Spotting the signs of wear and tear won’t take long, but can mean the difference between accidents and efficient operations. 


Basic Employer Responsibilities

As an employer setting out with the best intentions for their team, it’s important to remember that there are basic responsibilities that need to be considered when it comes to the overall safety of the workforce. This includes providing protective footwear without charging your employees, and ensuring that you have the right PPE available for every job. Employers are also responsible for maintenance, as part of maintaining a safe and healthy workplace. On top of this, it’s your job to make sure machinery is safe to use, and regularly checked in order to avoid unfortunate mishaps. The right supervisors should make this easier on you as the head of the company, and these workers should also be equipped to provide safety training to everyone on the team on a regular basis. 


The Right Supplier for High Quality Protective Footwear

Now that you’ve got a better idea of the importance of the right protective footwear, G.Fox is here to help you get your hands on safety shoes, boots and gumboots. We supply some of the highest quality protective footwear on the market, alongside our security, work wear and other relevant equipment. The G.Fox team is proud to be a premier supplier of PPE in South Africa, over a branch network that spans twelve different operations. When it comes to keeping your workers 100% safe at all times, we’ve got the solutions that will help get you there every time. At the end of the day, human capital is worth more than any profit margin, and by setting a good example, the company can thrive at what it does, while giving dignity to everyone in the workforce at the same time. 

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