Best foot forward
Safety footwear designed specifically for females is something of an untapped market, with women all-too-often having to make do with generic footwear that is ill-fitting and uncomfortable as it’s not designed for a slighter frame. John Dabb, Sales and Marketing Director at Hyde, takes a look at the options available to women in construction.
With women increasingly taking up trades in the construction, engineering and plumbing industries you may think that work wear has been quick to adapt, but this is generally not the case. In fact, women all too often have to persevere with PPE that is simply not designed for a slighter frame and therefore ill-fitting and uncomfortable and even unsuitable for the job.
Many manufacturers think that adding a women’s style to their portfolio requires little more than including a splash of pink here and there. After all, making footwear more ‘girly’ is all that matters, right? Well, no. While it’s fair to say that a lot of work boots can appear quite masculine, the requirement for safety footwear designed specifically for women goes beyond the aesthetics. A splash of pink here and there doesn’t overcome the issue of women often requiring footwear in a smaller size to those available, for instance and in a narrower fit than that available from the men’s ranges.
While the market as a whole is taking its time to catch on, there are solutions available that are better suited to women in construction. Trainers are a relevant example; a lightweight and often more pliable footwear option than work boots, safety trainers are generally lighter and more comfortable for wearing day-to-day and less cumbersome overall, while still offering the necessary protection and meeting the latest regulations. Those with a metal-free toe cap are significantly lighter than standard steel toe caps, with a pre-shaped protective bend for additional protection and user comfort.
Safety footwear that features the latest technology is also likely to appeal to a female market, such as slip-resistant and anti-fatigue soles which are flexible and more comfortable to wear. Footwear with anti-bacterial technology will be a further highlight, leaving feet not only feeling good but smelling fresh too, even at the end of a long day at work.
Whether opting for a safety trainer a work boot, it is important to consider the footwear’s SB levels, as this will have an impact on comfort too. SB is the basic safety standard for footwear, protecting the toes against a 200-joule impact, the minimum legal requirement. For just a few more pounds, S1-P trainers and S3 boots, offer midsole puncture resistance to prevent penetration from nails or glass.
Perhaps the biggest and most important difference between a pair of standard SB boots and better is in the sole. The majority of SB boots have thick soles made from polyurethane, which is solid and inflexible and therefore won’t give when bending. Unlike with tyres where the thicker the tread the better, with safety boots modern composites can mean a thinner sole is better offering protection with flexibility resulting in more comfort. S1-P and S3 safety footwear feature midsole puncture resistance to 1100 newtons to guarantee to prevent penetration from debris such as nails or glass. Safety footwear with SRC slip resistance means testing has been done under a variety of conditions, too.
Taking all these factors together, an informed choice can be made for selecting suitable footwear for the wearer and the application.