As the seasons change, they bring a new set of challenges and potential hazards to the jobsite. As a safety professional, it is essential to stay on top of the latest footwear technologies to ensure workers have adequate protection. In the winter months, frigid temperatures, snow, and ice often make getting work done safely even more difficult, requiring additional considerations from a personal protective equipment (PPE) perspective. In these cases, whether it’s to avoid slips, trips and falls on icy surfaces or protect against exposure-related injuries like frostbite, it’s crucial to equip workers with footwear designed to keep them safe, comfortable, and warm.
Key considerations for winter safety footwear to ensure job site safety:
BEST-IN-CLASS OUTSOLES. Cold weather means slick surfaces, which may increase a worker’s chance of falling. Look for best-in-class outsoles engineered to withstand extreme temperature ranges to keep feet warm. Additionally, tri-directional traction lugs can improve grip, while a defined heel breast enhances downhill braking control to help workers navigate challenging terrain.
INNOVATIVE MATERIALS. Freezing temperatures require insulation, so opt for work boots with traditional lofted insulation or consider footwear made with new warming materials such as aluminum technology. This paper-thin innovative technology surrounds feet and reflects and retains body heat to keep the wearer warm. Additionally, new materials and design advancements have allowed for lighter-weight products to pack the same standardized protections as the heavier boots of the past, which can significantly increase worker mobility and comfort.
MOISTURE-WICKING SOCKS. Even at -10C, feet can sweat, and the sock is a critical component to keep moisture from developing and causing issues. Merino wool or merino wool blends keep feet warm without adding too much heat in colder months. As seasons change, it’s necessary to encourage workers to switch footwear for products designed to tackle changing outdoor elements. A wellthought- out seasonal PPE strategy can help ensure workers are comfortable, productive and, most importantly, safe on the job.
Kristin Hamilton is senior product merchandising manager at Red Wing Shoe Company