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Safety Shoes: Why you don’t need to put safety before comfort.

Your feet can face many different significant hazards, so you might be forgiven for thinking that comfort is of secondary concern when choosing protective footwear. But research suggests that comfort is just as an important factor as protection. Wearing safety shoes which are uncomfortable or even painful could actually be doing you more harm than good, despite them being designed to protect your feet.

Health effects:

Studies by scientist and biomechanical researcher Terje Haugaa found that more than 30% of people who wear safety shoes have one or more health-related foot problems, including foot, knee and leg complaints.

Performance effects:

The same studies show that poor footwear also had an adverse effect on the wearer's performance, concentration and energy levels. Naturally, if concentration and energy are at a low level then it is also likely that safety is actually compromised.

Business effects

This is a potentially big problem for businesses. If comfort affects performance, then it also affects productivity and profit - serious issues arise simply because of shoes. This is why it's important for managers to consider employees' shoes carefully - especially the features that can result in discomfort or injury.

Working together for an expert solution.

Haugaa's studies point to a simple design fault in most safety shoes which have been designed with a banana shaped last (a ‘last’ is the form around which the shoe is built) that forces the foot into an unnatural, cramped position. This renders the foot unable to flex, rotate and move freely. Working with Bata Industrial’s research team, Haugaa also discovered a further 17 factors that can trigger or aggravate foot, leg and knee problems and then developed a range of improved designs to offer a clear solution to the problem.

Design Innovation for Comfort AND safety:

As a result of this research, revolutionary Walkline® Inside technology has been developed by Bata to take account of both anatomy and ergonomics to promote healthy feet. A combination of seven key design features allows your feet all the freedom they need to move in a natural manner:

1. Natural last:

Bata shoes work on a highly effective principle; they don't deviate more than 1.5cms from the natural longitudinal axis of the foot. In other words, they don't unnaturally bend or restrict the foot - they work with its natural form. The curved last used by most safety shoes results in a dramatic reduction in the mid-foot's shock-absorbing ability. Using a straight, last instead gives feet all the room they need to absorb shock in a natural manner while walking, meaning the wearer doesn't tire as easily, suffers fewer injuries and is more comfortable.

2. Three-width system:

Consisting of the Tunnelsystem®, shank and mid-sole, this design ensures that the shoe will absorb shock from impact, relieving pressure on joints.

3. Triple shock-absorption system:

Consisting of the Tunnelsystem®, shank and mid-sole, this design ensures that the shoe will absorb shock from impact, relieving pressure on joints.

4. Locking of the foot:

A traditional fastening pulls the top of the shoe tightly against the instep, preventing the foot from springing downward. Walkline® applies a fastening system which causes the shoe to be pulled firmly against the heel. The angle of the laces and the shape of the shoe enable the mid-foot to move more freely and in a more natural manner. Shoes are also built to optimise the foot's biomechanical properties by locking the shoe towards the heel and not to the metatarsus (the bones between the ankle and the toes) to help the wearer remain comfortable all day.

5. Dynamic sole:

By varying the density (using harder and softer sections) in exactly the right spots on the soles, a perfect balance is created between shock-absorption, stability and support for the foot's natural rolling movement.

6. Flexlines:

These precisely follow the foot's flexing zones. This means that the sole gives in just the right places, requiring less energy, so it's less tiring for the wearer and reduces the likelihood of accidents.

7. Anti-slip soles:

Different types of surfaces demand different soles. Using various combinations of materials and treads ensures optimal grip on a variety of surface types.

The result of this unique combination of features is that Bata have gained an incredibly loyal following of customers who have already discovered how comfortable their safety shoes are and would now never invest in anything else to protect their feet. This includes many with specialised footwear needs such as extreme fittings or diabetic issues. Their expertise means that other major players in the safety workwear marketplace, such as extreme hazard specialists Mammoet, now work jointly with Bata to ensure that their safety footwear is as comfortable as it is protective.

Other manufacturers too now understand the absolute necessity of well-fitting and comfortable safety footwear and some, such as Puma and Cofra, include Ladies fit shoes in their ranges. Women’s feet differ greatly in their proportions of width and length to men’s and so compromising with a small version of a man’s shoe is potentially very uncomfortable.

Safety is, of course, a top priority for PPE. But today's smart manufacturers truly understand that comfort is in fact a necessary part of reducing injuries, as well as being essential for overall employee wellbeing and increased productivity. The Bata Industrials safety shoe is just one example of how this combination of safety and comfort can work in modern PPE design.

At Anchor Safety, we aim to highlight the products we believe are best for your business and your employees. If you have any questions about Bata Industrial Safety Shoes or any other items of safety clothing, Anchor Safety can help. Call our friendly customer care team on 0800 328 5028.

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