Clair Weston, head of marketing at uvex examines the latest footwear developments helping to keep workers safe on construction sites.
From extreme temperatures to falling objects, foot injuries are among the most common injuries to construction workers. Thankfully, safety footwear product development is gaining new ground and mitigating risks through intelligent design, clever technologies and high-quality materials.
Equipped for the elements
Extreme weather is a major challenge for construction workers and slip-resistant footwear is essential. A rough, self-cleaning tread can provide good grip on uneven terrain and even on ladders or smooth surfaces. Preventing water from entering the footwear is vital, too. Having wet feet not only causes discomfort but the friction can lead to rubbing, sores and blisters. The dampness within the footwear creates a breeding ground for bacteria, too, which can lead to rashes, fungus and athlete’s foot.
New technologies have been developed to tackle these problems. For example, uvex waterstop technology – as featured in the new uvex 2 construction – protects against water penetration four times longer than required by the European standard. It keeps feet protected and dry throughout the day without compromising breathability. Having fewer seams on the upper and the design of the tongue also help keep water and dirt out.
Hot or cold feet, meanwhile, cause discomfort and can also lead to blisters, fungal infections or even mild hypothermia. Climate control systems draw this moisture away, leaving feet dry and creating a breathable and comfortable climate.
Research into the hardship placed on joints from standing and walking on hard surfaces has facilitated the development of new shock-absorbing technologies that reduce the stresses on the body and improve comfort and safety.
The new uvex 3, for example, has an ergonomic two-layer sole made of a newly developed polyurethane that provides cushioning and slip-resistance. uvex i-PUREnrj technology cushions the foot and provides increased stability by recovering the landing energy from across the sole and returning it to the wearer. This results in the wearer exerting less energy throughout the day, greater comfort and significantly lower fatigue in the legs and feet. The outsole features a tread pattern intended to stabilise yet flex with the natural rolling motion of the foot to provide freedom of movement.
Shock-absorbing foams can also encase the ankle area to protect against painful impact, while lace-locking mechanisms keep tension in the laces and increase support and ankle stability. Anatomically shaped heel baskets, meanwhile, provide stability and protection against twisted ankles, especially on uneven surfaces.
Ultra-flexible metatarsal protection
A penetration-resistant steel midsole that protects against nails and sharp objects is vital in safety footwear designed for use in construction environments, as is a steel or composite (metal-free) toe cap. Where there is a risk of heavy objects falling, metatarsal protection for the top-of-the-foot region may also be required.
Technological advances have brought ultra-flexible metatarsal protection materials that mould to the shape of the foot, giving the wearer complete freedom of movement and without adding to the boots overall weight. The material on top of the foot hardens upon impact to absorb and dissipate the energy, returning to its flexible, free-flowing state afterwards offering workers comfortable protection. The ultra-flexible D3O® technology used in the new Heckel MACCROSSROAD 3.0 S3 HIGH META safety boot is one example of this.
Keeping pace with the latest innovations in protective footwear can enhance the safety, health and wellbeing of the workforce. Those procuring safety footwear must equally look for products that are built to last. Durable materials and technologies designed to increase service life can enhance cost-in-use and ensure the user is protected day in and day out.
uvex’s new safety footwear range is designed to tick every box. They deliver on wearability for optimal protection, fit, compatibility and comfort. They also offer durable quality to minimise wear and tear. Finally, they are sustainable – providing protection for both people and planet.
About uvex group
The uvex group unites four companies under one roof: the uvex safety group, the uvex sports group (uvex sports and ALPINA), the Filtral group (Filtral and Primetta) and Protecting People GmbH for the B2C business. The uvex group is represented by 49 branches in 22 countries and produces by conviction with a focus on Germany. 60 percent of the nearly 3,000 employees (as of FY 2020/21) are based in Germany. uvex is a global partner to top international sports as an outfitter to countless top athletes. The guiding principle of protecting people is both a mission and an obligation. To this end, the uvex group develops, produces and sells products and services for the safety and protection of people in the professional, sports and leisure sectors.