Putting your best foot forward when it comes to PPE

All employees should be supplied with free Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) if they are involved in a task that carries any form of risk.

From head to toe, it is vital that employees feel safe in the work environment and are suitably equipped to prevent injury.

As slips trips and falls account for more workplace accidents than any other, it stands to reason the slip resistant qualities of foot protection cannot be taken lightly.

 

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) accidents of this nature cost employers over £500m per year in addition to the incalculable cost to the affected person or persons in terms of distress, lost pay and inconvenience.

 

The safety features of footwear, including slip resistance, are tested according to a set of European test standards. Footwear which has passed the EN test for slip resistance will be marked with one of the following codes, SRA, SRB or SRC – the top rating.

 

SRA – tested on ceramic tile wetted with dilute soap solution
SRB – tested on smooth steel with glycerol;
SRC – tested under both the above conditions

 

Safety footwear ratings

All standard safety footwear meets the EN ISO 20345:2011 safety standard.

 

In addition to different levels of slip resistance, other features such as protection from electrical discharges and penetration from power tools or sharp implements may be incorporated into the design of safety footwear,

 

SB: Safety Basic footwear must be able to withstand a 200 Joule impact to the toecap.

SBP: SBP-rated safety footwear has an additional mid-sole plate (made up of steel, or composite material) to help protect the wearer from standing on a metal spike, for example.

S1/S1P: S1 footwear is anti-static, resistant to fuel oil and features energy absorption at the heel. The footwear is upgraded to S1P rating if it comes with a mid-sole plate.

 

S2: Has all the aspects of S1 safety footwear but with the prevention of water absorption as an added benefit

 

S3: The same asS2-rated footwear but with a penetration resistant midsole

 

S4: An S4 boot provides the same level of protection as an S1, however it is moulded from a polymer or rubber that makes them completely waterproof and leak-proof.

 

S5: S5 incorporates all the safety footwear features of the S4, plus midsole penetration resistance.

 

Safety footwear comes in all different shapes, sizes and colours and is made in a variety of materials, but as with all PPE supplies, selection has to be based on the risks faced by the wearer which obviously differ from one occupation to another.

 

Footwear selection has to take account of a number of factors in addition to its protective qualities, such as comfort and durability. Procuring safety footwear that isn’t comfortable is a waste of time and money because employees may refuse to wear it, leaving them unprotected.

 

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