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Protective Footwear [Dec 2010]

Published: 10th Dec 2010 in OSA Magazine

Selecting the right type of protective footwear for your site staff is not only essential for their safety, but it also forms part of your duty of care towards your employees. Some basic understanding of footwear categories and how they’re tested can make that selection process much simpler. It can even help you avoid inferior and counterfeit goods during procurement and help mitigate your risks.

In the following pages Intersek present a ‘need to know’ guide for safety footwear which will help you to make the right buying decision.

Review your risk assessment data

An up to date risk assessment for your site will be your first point of reference during footwear procurement. It will identify risks on your site - be they from machinery, equipment, debris, water, chemicals or electricity. Where one or more of these is present, you have immediate clues as to what type of footwear to look for.

Select the right footwear for the risks

Footwear is essentially divided into several categories by international standards which specify how different types of footwear should be tested and what characteristics they should have. With an understanding of these a procurement officer will be able to match footwear characteristics to the site risks.

Within each of these standards, footwear types are classified by their performance characteristics.

1. EN ISO 20345/A1 2007 Safety Footwear Requirements

This is arguably the most well known of the footwear standards that manufacturers use to test and assess their products. The toe caps in safety footwear covered by this standard are subjected to impact energies to 200 joules and compression forces of up to 15,000 Newtons (1.5 metric tonnes) and offer a higher level of protection to the wearer. The categories are:

• SB - Safety Basic; tested for 200 joules of toe protection
• S1 - Safety Basic; tested for 200 joules of toe protection, also includes antistatic, a closed seat region and has an energy absorbing heel
• S2 - Safety Basic; tested for 200 joules of toe protection, also includes antistatic, a closed seat region, energy absorbing heel and water resistant upper
• S3 - Safety Basic; tested for 200 joules of toe protection, also includes antistatic, a closed seat region, an energy absorbing heel, water resistant upper and an anti penetration midsole
• S4 - Safety Basic; tested for 200 joules of toe protection and is applicable to polymeric/rubber footwear (Wellington Boots), also includes antistatic and has an energy absorbing heel
• S5 - Safety Basic; tested for 200 joules of toe protection and is applicable to polymeric/rubber footwear (Wellington Boots), also includes antistatic, energy absorbing heel and an anti penetration midsole

The ‘S’ descriptor will appear on the product usually on the tongue.

2. EN ISO 20346:2004/A1 2007 Protective Footwear

The toecaps in protective footwear covered by this standard are tested to lower limits; footwear is subjected to impact energies to 100 Joules and compression forces of up to 10,000 Newtons (1 metric tonne) and they offer an intermediate level of protection to the wearer. The categories are:
• PB - Protective Basic; tested for 100 joules of toe protection
• P1 - Protective Basic; tested for 100 joules of toe protection, also antistatic, a closed seat region and has an energy absorbing heel
• P2 - Protective Basic; tested for 100 joules of toe protection, also antistatic, a closed seat region, an energy absorbing heel and water resistant upper
• P3 - Protective Basic; tested for 100 joules of toe protection, also antistatic, a closed seat region, an energy absorbing heel, a water resistant upper and an anti penetration midsole
• P4 - Protective Basic; tested for 100 joules of toe protection and is applicable to polymeric/rubber footwear (Wellington Boots), also includes antistatic and has an energy absorbing heel
• P5 - Protective Basic; tested for 100 joules of toe protection and applicable to polymeric/rubber footwear (Wellington Boots) also includes antistatic, an energy absorbing heel and an anti penetration midsole

The ‘P’ descriptor will appear on the product and in the accompanying material.

3. EN ISO 20347:2004 /A1 2007 Occupational Footwear

These are basic items of occupational footwear that have no toe caps and only offer a most basic level of protection to the wearer - such as protection from electric shock.

• OB - Occupational Basic
• O1 - Occupational Basic; also antistatic, a closed seat region and has an energy absorbing heel
• O2 - Occupational Basic; also antistatic, a closed seat region, an energy absorbing heel and a water resistant upper
• O3 - Occupational Basic; also antistatic, a closed seat region, an energy absorbing heel, a water resistant upper and an anti penetration midsole
• O4 - Occupational Basic; is applicable to polymeric / rubber footwear (Wellington Boots) also includes antistatic and has an energy absorbing heel
• O5 - Occupational Basic; is applicable to polymeric / rubber footwear (Wellington Boots) also includes antistatic, an energy absorbing heel and an anti penetration midsole

The ‘O’ descriptor will appear on the product and in the accompanying material.

Other marking

As well as the CE mark, various other markings may be present on the footwear, as defined by the relevant harmonised standard. With each pair of footwear sold, there must be supplied an information notice to the user. This is a document which explains the protection provided and other details such as care guidelines. These required marks include the ‘S’, ‘P’ or ‘O’ ratings and letters which designate a particular type of characteristic, as expressed in the table below.

As testing to these standards involves assessment not only of the protective features of the footwear, but also of durability and user comfort, when the above standards are in evidence you know that you’re getting a practical, wearable, value for money product for your chosen footwear category.

Interestingly, most of the main components must be tested and the majority of the tests are performed three times to cover the size range of the product.
CE marking

Safety, Protective and Occupational footwear must carry CE marking to show that it meets, among other things, the Personal Protective Equipment Directive 89/686/EEC.

CE Marking on the product is a physical representation of a manufacturer’s Declaration of Conformity with this legislation - and it is illegal to CE mark a product which does not comply with these requirements.

In order to apply CE marking to Footwear, a manufacturer must:

• Have had the product independently assessed by an appropriate third party. This process is called an EC Type Examination, and usually involves testing against a harmonised European standard in order to prove conformance with the requirements of the directive
• Maintain a technical file detailing the technical specifications of the product, including the design information, materials lists, details of compliance with the health and safety requirements, details of suppliers of all relevant components, the test procedures used to assess the product (and any resulting certificates) and details of the manufacturer’s quality procedures
• Have a written ‘Declaration of Conformity’ with the appropriate Directives
• Hold a copy of the File and Declaration inside the EU

Once this material is accepted by a Notified Body, the product cannot be changed of modified without re-submitting updated files and having these accepted.

How to avoid counterfeit products

As Safety, protective and occupational footwear protects the wearer against injury and enables them to undertake tasks safely and with confidence, it is alarming that some customers are coming across poor quality personal protective equipment that either hasn’t passed the requisite assessment (and
CE Marking has been applied anyway), or that is simply a fake version of a well known brand that hasn’t been made or assessed properly.

So how does a procurement officer avoid questionable goods?

1. Purchase goods from reputable and trusted suppliers - it seems obvious to state this, but the internet has provided a cornucopia of possible equipment sources that the unscrupulous manufacturers can abuse.
2. Choose the right brand for your needs. Some procurement officers will only purchase specific established brands, whereas others seek out emerging brands that may offer lower prices. Always seek advice if you’re not sure which brand is right for you. If that isn’t possible, simply conducting a basic web search can often produce useful information, like case studies and customer feedback that can help you judge the nature of the brand.
3. If you aren’t familiar with a particular brand and you’re concerned about a manufacturer’s Declaration of Conformity and application of CE marking, ask the manufacturer (or stockist) if you can see a copy of the EC Type Examination certificate. They aren’t obliged to show this to you, but many companies will be happy to do so. If you have a certificate from your supplier and suspect that it might be fake, you can contact the Notified Body involved and ask them to check that the certificate number is genuine.
4. If you are considering a high volume purchase and you have reservations about the quality of the item you’re buying, buy one unit and ask a Notified Body for a technical opinion on it. They will be able to quickly tell you if the product is what it appears to be.
5. It’s an old adage, but if a product price appears too good to be true, it probably is. Lower priced goods can be tempting, but a suspiciously low price tag can indicate that a manufacturer has not met his legal obligations.
6. If the information notice doesn’t accompany the product or the product doesn’t carry the right markings, it isn’t a compliant product - even if the packaging appears to be official, it is best avoided.

By understanding the different categories of Safety, Protective and Occupational footwear available and how strenuously they’re tested, and by applying a common sense approach to their acquisition, you should be able to source the right footwear for the job, and avoid dubious products that could put your staff at risk.

Author Details

Raj has worked within the footwear sector for more than 20 years. His vast experience within the industry includes pattern-cutting, designing, quality control processes, testing, inspecting and manufacturing. He has travelled to factories in China and India to witness offshore production firsthand. In addition, Raj has many years’ experience with a broad and diverse range of footwear, leather goods and safety footwear tests and testing. He is also a long-standing member of the MSSF (Member of Society of Shoe-Fitters).

Intertek is a global leader in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) testing and certification of products, such as fire-fighting apparel, respiratory apparatus, and helmets. Intertek is accredited by the Standards Council of Canada (SCC), and is recognised by OSHA.
Intertek has performed evaluations in accordance with such standards as ANSI, ASTM, NFPA, CPSC, EN, CSA, SAE, AS and ISO.

It also offers testing services for penetration (ASTM F903) and permeation (ASTM F739). To better serve international clients Intertek maintains an alliance with a UK based Notified Body that accepts Intertek data for the issuance of a notified CE Mark.

www.intertek-labtest.com

Published: 10th Dec 2010 in OSA Magazine

Author


Raj Gohil


Raj Gohil has worked within the footwear sector for more than 20 years. His vast experience within the industry includes pattern-cutting, designing, quality control processes, testing, inspecting and manufacturing. He has travelled to factories in China and India to witness offshore production firsthand. In addition, Raj has many years’ experience with a broad and diverse range of footwear, leather goods and safety footwear tests and testing. He is also a long-standing member of the MSSF (Member of Society of Shoe-Fitters).

Intertek is a global leader in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) testing and certification of products, such as fire-fighting apparel, respiratory apparatus, and helmets. Intertek is accredited by the Standards Council of Canada (SCC), and is recognised by OSHA.
Intertek has performed evaluations in accordance with such standards as ANSI, ASTM, NFPA, CPSC, EN, CSA, SAE, AS and ISO.

It also offers testing services for penetration (ASTM F903) and permeation (ASTM F739). To better serve international clients Intertek maintains an alliance with a UK based Notified Body that accepts Intertek data for the issuance of a notified CE Mark.

www.intertek-labtest.com



http://www.intertek-labtest.com

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