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Stay in sight

11 August 2021

Chris Payne explains how hi- vis safety footwear can save lives as well as limbs.

MUCH HAS already been written about the worrying record of injuries and fatalities in the construction industry so let’s firstly focus on a breakthrough in personal safety which merchants are best placed to deliver : hi – vis safety footwear . 

Buckbootz launched the first ever range of high visibility and reflective leather and Cordura safety boots called Buckz Viz in 2018 followed by their neoprene/rubber hi – vis and reflective BBZ 8000 in December 2020 to bring totally new dimensions of personal safety along with 360o reflectivity to the workplace . 

Many of the fatalities , injuries and close calls at construction locations and merchants’ yards involve reversing vehicles and machinery movement . You tend to think about hi – vis clothing in these circumstances but in many cases the first thing you see in mirrors when reversing is feet . (Nowadays many cyclists wear hi -vis footwear as well as clothing and what’s the first thing which catches your eye ? Moving feet ).

High visibility footwear makes the end users and the merchant sector take notice and there is one very important point to remember: reflective on its own is not sufficient . Hi – vis is effective in all light, in all conditions, round the clock and all year round .

Construction site activity gets into full swing in the spring and summer months . Vehicle and personnel movements increase and so does danger to life and limb . The Buckz Viz range comes with full EN / UKCA S3 standards certification . They are waterproof and non metallic too and the hi – vis Cordura material is easily and quickly cleaned when required with some warm water and a soft brush . 

S3 (and S 1 P: S3 standard brings additional water resistance) standard certification provides customers with comprehensive safety toecap and “nail stop” anti penetration midsole and antistatic protection and , in the vast majority of cases , all the on site protection required. If you and your staff familiarise yourselves with these codes on the labels which are permanently attached to the products and shown on the packaging, you will be on the right side with the guidance you dispense. Other codes like HRO and SRC relate to outsole performance. HRO relates to heat resistance (300o C/60 seconds ) and SRA ,SRB or SRC categorises the soles’ degree of anti – slip capability. SRC is the current maximum standard. 

However, be on guard. There are safety footwear products with high market profiles which only have safety toecap protection. These carry the EN / UKCA code, 'SB'. If 'P' is not also shown in the code then the footwear does not provide nail stop protection and should not be worn on construction sites. Apart from this basic specification enabling lower price points it’s difficult to know why they find their way on to the feet of persons engaged in the construction sector .

Another product which does find its way on to construction sites, but has inaccurately been cast in a villain’s role, is the rigger style boot. Much disinformation circulates about riggers so to be clear, there is absolutely no EN or UKCA directive which outlaws riggers. What appears to have been directives released by various organisations banning riggers found wings. Contemporary rigger styles like Buckbootz B 701 and BSH 010 come fitted with ankle protection and support which has the extra benefit of providing a snug and comfortable fit with the near elimination of the heel drop effect in wear. For those who prefer their waterproof high leg boots to be leather then today’s high spec riggers are excellent products. 

With the sun shining and construction workers in shorts ,you would imagine that safety wellies would be the last item of PPE on their and merchants’ minds . Not any more. Nowadays most trades people have their wellies in their vehicles at all times. Safety wellington boots come with the same requirement to conform to safety directives as all other safety footwear but instead of EN / UKCA S3 look out for EN / UKCA S5 which is the equivalent to S3 in boots of this type. Buckbootz BBZ 8000 and 6000 also come with a host of other certified standards but the recently launched BBZ 8000 is believed to be the first ever boot in neoprene/rubber construction and of this type to feature EN / UKCA certified ankle impact protection (AN standard ). The structure of this type of boot also enables the anti impact material to straddle the achilles area and provide even more wearer protection. 

Much is written about the shift of merchant activity to online and as a sales channel it is very much part of the overall PPE supply network. However, the majority of safety footwear sales are still conducted in merchants’ premises and that is where a big opportunity lies in terms of getting the safety message over to end users. Dialogue and Q&A are key to ensuring that the correct footwear is recommended and self employed and employed personnel look to their merchant for the correct advice to ensure that they stay on the right side of the regulations and get the best footwear for purpose. If these factors are enhanced by footwear which looks good too then the deal is sealed.

Buckbootz has championed personal safety in the construction industry since 1998 and is using this unwavering commitment to create new and exciting products to help drive home the absolute necessity of properly protecting all personnel as they go about their daily business, indoors, outdoors and in all weathers. Merchants are key players and partners in this mission . 

Chris Payne is director at Buckbootz. For more information, visit www.buckbootz.com