Injuries in the workplace are a sobering reality, impacting negatively on both employees and employers. In this issue, LIANA SHAW looks at the importance of specialised footwear as a way to minimise accidents in the workplace
Workplace injuries can result in long-term physical damage to workers, and can even hinder them from performing their work duties effectively. For employers, physical injury could lead to downtime, not to mention their having to fork out substantial sums of money by way of workers’ compensation.
“Slip and fall, ankle injuries and injuries on the bridge of the foot or toes due to not wearing steel toe cap footwear are commonly seen in the industry,” notes Elma Wallis, marketing director for Sahara Workwear. In her view a good sole pattern with proper ankle support is imperative to ensuring adequate protection for the user.
Grant Lawless, sales and marketing manager for Khulanathi Black Ginger, agrees: “Foot injuries can cause major problems for both employees and employers, with an injury not only causing issues at work, but also affecting the worker’s personal life. And for employers, who would subsequently be mandated to pay out massive amounts in compensation, an accident of this nature spells grave economic losses.
“Our range of safety footwear provides protection not only from falling objects but also from nail penetration and dangerous chemicals.”
More important, says Lawless, Khulanathi Black Ginger offers site inspections, risk assessments and safety footwear training to ensure that the correct protection is being used, whether it be in a wet environment or in a heavy smelter operation.
“All of our safety shoes and boots comply with the necessary standards to provide excellent protection for the relevant application, as well as being lightweight and comfortable, thus allowing the wearer to perform their job without having to worry about their feet or fatigue-related accidents,” he explains.
“Interestingly, we have found that the fastest growing product in safety footwear in South Africa is the Chelsea boot, probably because of the convenience it offers in terms of getting it on and slipping it off in case of injury. There are also no laces, which means that nothing can slip into machinery and cause unnecessary hazards or injuries.”
Khulanathi Black Ginger distributes all the major safety footwear brands, from safety shoes to chemical-resistant boots, to cater for all applications.
Shaun Botha, marketing manager for G. Fox, also gave us insight into that company’s range, stating that its safety boots and shoes contain additional features such as padded collars, shock absorbent heels, heavy-wear leather uppers and collars, as well as Kevlar insert plates and non-conductive soles to protect against other hazards such as electric shock.
“As for gumboots, traditionally they protected wearers from weather-related hazards such as slipping and becoming soiled. However, modern gumboots are also designed to be lightweight and flexible, and protect against a range of liquids (including blood, fats, oils and chemicals). They feature steel toe caps and cleating to provide superior grip and protection to the ankle and foot against physical injury,” he says.
Price could be the differentiator
In addition to safety and comfort, one of the biggest deciding factors for companies looking to buy safety footwear is price.
“There is massive pressure on sales in the safety footwear sector, and companies are having to discount products, with margins being extremely low,” explains Lawless. “Smaller businesses do not qualify for any bulk discounts and the market is extremely competitive. For this reason, our range of footwear includes entry-level products as well as premium products. In short, we have a safety footwear solution for everyone.”
With makes such as Alsafe, Wayne, Makoya, Bova, Frams and Rebel in their stable, G. Fox claims to possess an affordably priced footwear range for both men and women that is suitable for a wide range of applications, spanning agriculture, food, industry, security and law enforcement, to name a few.
Sahara Workwear describes its range as large, with various brands such as BBF, Bata, Rebel, Dot and Hi-Tec on offer, and pricing to cater for all price ranges and quality levels.
Other than price, with a growing female contingent in the workplace, style and functionality also play a part and could prove an important deciding factor when it comes to buying ladies’ safety shoes.