‘Tougher than old boots: 3 Things you want from Mining Footwear’

Your feet are probably two of the most important assets you will ever have in your life. Unfortunately in mining, heavy machinery, sharp tools and uneven ground, are common causes of foot related injuries.

In February 2015, it was reported that one worker at a Port Hedland loading facility had sustained serious injuries, when his foot was crushed under a spreader bar.

It was a painful reminder to industry of the risks that lurk round every corner.

New South Wales and Queensland Government statistics indicate that injuries to the foot and toe area equate to 6-10% of all injuries. The National Occupational Health and Safety Commissioner reported that lower limb injuries, which include feet and toes, constituted nearly 20% of all injuries in the workplace.

Working in the mines is  tough and arduous  work, which can be made worse when wearing the wrong PPE equipment; inappropriate or ill-fitting.

Many work boots made for the rugged mining environment, are guilty of putting safety first and comfort last, which for those working 8-12 hour shifts, can cause fatigue and orthopedic problems in the lower back, legs and feet, not to mention the distraction it can pose to workers.

When choosing new work boots, for your staff or for yourself, it is imperative to consider the following:

Hazards

Though mining in general is a dangerous environment, there are some processes that are  more risky than others. For example in underground mining, workers might be at risk of sharp objects underfoot, and so a specialised boot that offers underfoot penetration resistance is necessary.

Similarly working in hot, cold, dry, or wet conditions will require a different boot.

It is important to fully assess your environment to ensure your footwear selection is providing the best possible protection.

Material

In harsh conditions, it is crucial the footwear selected can stand up to the job, so material is an obvious factor to consider. However the selection and use of quality materials is not only about longevity of product, other factors that relate to the material, such as impact upon foot health, comfort and element resistance is important too.

In an interview, Kirsty Spiteri from Centennial Coal, who worked in partnership with Blundstone to create a new underground boot for mining, said that gumboots -the traditional option used in underground mines- though suitable for wet environments, provide poor levels of comfort and a lack of ankle and arch support for the wearer.

On the contrary, leather boots provide ankle and arch support but, traditionally, little in the way of water resistance.

Value

When we talk about value, we don’t simply mean the initial cost. All too often, safety equipment is chosen on price, which then throws up quality issues down the line, not to mention the physical threat inferior boots can pose to the wearer.

Given that the average mining boot has a lifespan of just 8-12 weeks, the cost of replacing boots for every miner on site, quickly adds up.

Choosing a high quality boot, made of all-factor resistant material and purpose designed to perform against high temperatures, chemicals and penetration, will last longer, therefore reducing the need for replacements.

Choosing the best…

In 2014, Blundstone’s Underground Boot AKA “Style 980”, was the worthy winner of the Innovation Award at the 2014 NSW Mining Health & Safety Innovation Awards. It also won “Best in Category” (Product Design – Commercial and Industrial) at the prestigious 2015 Good Design Awards and the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences (Powerhouse Museum) Design Award 2015 for excellence in Australian product design.

So much more than a boot, the Style 980 has since revolutionized footwear in underground mining by providing high levels of support and stability for the wearer, whilst being extremely comfortable and waterproof.

With no laces or zips, the boots are designed for a custom fit, quick closure and easy release, whilst the high quality leather offers abrasion resistance and superior tear strength to that of other leathers.

With a Type 1 steel toe cap, slip resistance and heat resistance to 300°C, the Style 980 is the new benchmark in PPE footwear.

As a brand, Blundstone has decades of innovative design and production experience behind them, which has led them to today; overseeing a global supply chain and bringing together the best ideas, components and styling, to complement a wide range of products for a wide variety of uses. 

Since its origins in 1870, Blundstone has continually invested in research and development activities that ensure constant improvements in comfort, protection, performance and aesthetics.

To find out more about the new range of mining boots from Blundstone, click here.

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