Thursday, May 19, 2011

Rubber safety overshoes – putting your best foot forward.

 There is nothing new under the sun but when it comes to safety overshoes there have been some exciting developments of late. Rubber overshoes with an enclosed steel toecap are now a far cry from the crude gluing together of two parts as seen in the earliest versions. Using cheap labor, plastic and an insensitive approach to health and environment, the cheapest of all versions are still around, but time is passing them by. Today, enclosed-toe safety overshoes provide toe protection as required in all of the World's Standards for safety footwear. They have significant differences over their older cousins, and all because somebody took the trouble to make a good idea better, and safer. 

Enclosed-toe rubber safety overshoes have a steel toecap positioned much as it is in a safety shoe or boot. In fact, this type of overshoe looks very much like a regular safety shoe. It is a style that has shed the rather comical look of overshoes with exposed, brightly colored steel toecaps. When those early models first appeared they were certainly an improvement over the "yellow clackers", but mostly in the area of convenience. While they did reduce the noise levels often heard during visitor plant tours, not many liked wearing big blobs of colour on their feet. Used as a visitor shoe, the appearance of the exposed-toe overshoes was not an issue since employers have a lesser burden for safety for visitors than for employees. However, when it comes to safety compliance on the job, employees found the comical look, and more, to complain about. Employee acceptance of PPE is totally dependent on comfort and look factors. If employees dislike wearing a particular piece they are more likely to do without it. Statistics show that the number of toe injuries where PPE was not being used is significant. Those unfortunate situations could well have been the result of an unwillingness to appear “strange” in front of other workers. Imagine a fashion-conscious office worker making their occasional trek through a safety zone to collect paperwork.

Rubber enclosed-toe overshoes are making other noteworthy contributions to safety cultures in many work environments. Unlike plastic PVC, an overshoe made of rubber will not stiffen or crack, even in cold temperatures. The material not only provides the kind of slip resistance long associated with rubber, it gives better wear, tear and cut-growth resistance. These qualities lead to ownership and longevity since the new enclosed-toe overshoe is not a “throw-away”. These qualities have taken the earlier lowly, 'ugly ducking' of safety footwear into many work environments. From the freezer to the furnace room, where toe protection is called for, enclosed toe overshoes offer a cost-effective alternative to expensive safety footwear.

Business entities such as in Manufacturing, Transportation and Storage, Retail Trade and Property Business Services are environments where a significant number of toe injuries happen. It's no surprise that laborers, trades people, drivers, machine operators and nurses are some of the most frequently injured. Even when we know that safety shoes can exacerbate a problem, and when risk assessments mandate that toe protection is all that is required, all too often it is only a safety shoe that is considered. Here then is a win-win compromise that results in compliance, added safety benefits and an improvement in foot comfort. Employees can now slip on steel toe protection over their recommended footwear and look very stylish to boot.

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