safety boots and shoes

Antistatic vs Non-Conductive vs Conductive

Your sole compound on your safety footwear can offer various and different grades of protection. Requesting safety footwear that simply conforms to ISO 20345:2014 is just the tip of the iceberg when assessing risk in your specific work environment.

When addressing the issue of anti-static safety boots, one clearly needs to understand the different compounds used to manufacture soles on safety footwear; Polyurethane (PU), Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU), Carbon Black (CB), and Rubber (RUB).

Each compound has different properties of slip resistance, heat resistance, chemical resistance and electro contact resistance.

One needs to understand ECR (Electro Contact Resistance). These graphs below will help understand OHMS and OHMS range.

ElectrocStatic Discharge

ElectrocStatic Discharge

The ohm is the standard international unit of measurement of electrical resistance – and covers 3 major areas : 1. CONDUCTIVE / 2. ANTI-STATIC & 3. NON-CONDUCTIVE (or INSULATING).

  • PU (Polyurethane) is anti-static. There is also a very special parameter within Polyurethane that sits in a very specific range of anti-static requirement called ESD (electro static discharge).
  • TPU is also anti-static.
  • Rubber is non-conductive. Used in environments where no electrical conductivity is allowed – resistance to high voltage / electrical / shock and spark.
  • Carbon black soled footwear is 100% fully-conductive and helps to protect the wearer in an environment where the accumulation of static electricity on the body can be a hazard. (Handling explosive or volatile materials). Conductive safety footwear is made with materials and cements that offer no electrical resistance.

There is no one safety boot that covers all 4 requirements in 1, nor can one be both non-conductive and anti-static at the same time.

So, it all has to do with the amount of charge build (static build up) up which is generated on the personnel and the effect that has in the working environment.

  • Rubber is non-conductive meaning no risk of electrical charge being earthed through the shoe. This is why companies at risk of standing on high voltage (or contact with high voltage) use rubber. We supply rubber soled footwear to many electrical contractors and electricians for the same purpose.
  • Carbon black however allows any and all electrical charge build up to continually and rapidly dissipate through the sole – allowing zero static build up.

There are a wide range of factors that can affect the amount of electrostatic charge that can build up as a voltage on personnel.

  • The floor material and its electrical resistance, and resistance-to-ground.
  • Atmospheric humidity.
  • The manner in which a person walks, e.g. scuffing and friction of the shoes against the floor.
  • Actions of brushing against furniture, sitting and rising from seats (A person wearing a wool sweater sitting on a man-made fibre chair may charge to a high voltage when they leave their seat).

Furthermore, PU (Polyurethane) has the best slip resistance ratings due to its softer more flexible compound (providing better grip). Rubber has slip resistant properties, but is harder and therefore less flexible and won’t have as higher slip resistant ratings. Again, the need to assess liquids on various surfaces needs to be taken into account when choosing footwear for different work environments.

Always familiarise yourself with specific needs in your work environment and the associated risks.

Salt Spew

Salt Spues and Fatty Blooms

Gasp! Shock! Horror! Have you ever opened a brand new box of leather shoes or boots, which you purchased a few months ago – only to find what looks like a white mould on the leather upper? Either in a small amoeba like pattern or streaky lines? You need not panic nor throw a tantrum. Not everything located on the surface of your leather footwear is mould. In fact, in the case of a FMCG like safety footwear – 99.9% of the time you are in fact dealing with oils or salts migrating from within the leather and crystalising on the surface. It is quite a common occurence.

Is this mould on my leather boots?

To distinguish the one from the other, we must rule out the obvious. If you have turned your beautiful leather boots into gumboots and paraded around in knee deep water all day, and then tossed them into a damp and cold environment for a week or two… and they start to smell – then yes, your boots (leather is a natural material, a deceased animal skin!) probably smell like mildew and you have a fungus or bacteria growing on the leather. (Like a piece of old white bread, this growth will be far larger spread, thicker and green/yellow in colour. But, the smell will be the giveaway.) This is mould. And you should have taken more care of your expensive leather safety boots.

What is a Salt Spue or a Fatty Bloom?

But, if this new pair of boots hasn’t been near moisture and are indeed brand new (and all you smell is that beautiful, rich, natural leather aroma) then you are most certainly dealing with a Salt Spue or a Fatty Bloom. If you have stored your new purchase for a while, wanting to get your last few kilometres or even months out of your last pair, you may be met with this white substance. You have nothing to fear. It is a direct result of the fats, oils and waxes used during the tanning process. And happens due to either a rapid temperature shift (hot to cold / or vice versa as we experience in seasonal changes) or high humidity – these salts, oils and waxes move to the surface. They migrate through the layers in the leather skin (leather upper), and crystalise upon the exposed surface.

It can happen to any type of tanned, oily leather product; wallets, shoes, jackets, pants and even belts. It is not harmful to the product at all, but unfortunately doesn’t look aesthetically pleasing – immediately resulting in the purchase being deemed bad quality or returned. This is not the case.

We often show our clients that it is salt, but touching the small “pinky” finger to the tongue and then touching the spue, and touching the tongue again. Often the salt can be detected in taste. But, you don’t need to be a detective or private investigator to fix the issue. It is very simple to remove and resolve.

How To Clean Salt Spue from Leather Boots?

The boots are new, so firstly you could rub them down (like when polishing) with a dry cloth or small towel (even the branded ProFit fabric wrapping inside the box works). The rubbing resistance, and heat, will start to remove the white and the spue or bloom will disappear. If you have some time on your hands, and the weather is suitable – place them inside a comfortable warm or heated room or even in the sunlight. Natural warmth will cause the spue to disappear as it is drawn back into the leather and dries. But NEVER place the boots or shoes next to a direct heat source like a fire place, nor try and speed dry on a heater or with a hot hair-dryer. You will damage the leather. Natural sunlight or warmth is the best option. Then give the product a good polish with a commercially available shoe polish (Plush, Lion, Kiwi, Nugget, etc) or a bees wax or dubbin, or even a leather food or leather oil.


Walking through small puddles of water or being caught in a rain downpour often wets the leather uppers as well, and one can see lines appearing around the shoe or boot where the height of the water reached. This is again an example of the salts used during the tanning process coming towards the surface. It can even happen on a very hot day where you have been very sweaty, or sweated a great deal inside your footwear. (Commonly seen on the area of a leather belt which sits in the middle of your back!) But a simple, good polish will remove these natural tanning agents. And polishing always means maintenance, longevity and a longer lifespan for your boots or shoes. It’s a win-win scenario.


We never stop learning! Talk to the professionals at ProFit Safety Footwear for more helpful hints and tips on understandinhg leather and safety footwear. We are at your service.

Safety Boots

Safety Footwear A Brief History

Where and when did safety footwear begin? Why was it invented? And what should I be looking for today?

The Origins of Safety Footwear

Interestingly enough, safety footwear can track its origins back to the beginning of the 18th century, when industrial safety workwear first became an issue. Previously it was cheaper to replace an injured worker than to introduce safety measures. The first ‘protective boots’ were wooden, called sabots. It was a simple shoe, shaped and hollowed out from a block of wood, traditionally worn by peasants in Europe. Similar to clogs. These protected workers from falling objects, protected farmers on the field from sharp objects and protected toes in case cattle stepped on them. During the industrial revolution, workers used sabots to destroy machinery by throwing them into the gears of factories to stop production. This is how the word sabotage originated.

When Were Safety Boots Invented?

Safety boots were officially “invented” with a steel tip at the front, at the end of World War II in Germany. At the start of the war, leather protective boots were used by civilians (as leather offered abrasion resistance, a level of heat resistance and shelter from the elements) and military personnel wore those same boots which were called Marschstiefels (Marching Boots). By the end of War World II, a steel tip was introduced at the front of these boots. Particularly for the engineers working on machinery and vehicles used during battle. And the first steel toe cap boots began moving into the industrial workplace, at a time when people started addressing industrial safety issues. Laws were officially implemented and liability costs forced large companies to start focusing on having equipment that was safer to use than before. In the 1930s, Red Wing Shoes Company started commercially dealing in large volumes of steel toe boots. And mass production began in 1970, when the US Congress adopted the Occupational Safety & Health Act for workplace safety – and these standards were enforced by law. These standards included those that required the use of protective footwear in areas that posed the threat of foot injuries. Today it is a mandatory requirement in many industries like construction and mining.

Reinforced Boots & Shoes

Safety footwear are commonly boots and shoes made with a protective reinforcement at the front making them more durable in harsher work industries. The reinforcement helps to protect the toes from falling objects or over-toe compression. The reinforcement is normally made of steel, hence they are colloquially known as steel toe cap boots. Foot protection will guard your toes, ankles and feet from injury. Each foot contains 26 bones for support and 33 joints for movement. Feet also have more than a hundred; muscles, tendons and ligaments surrounded by blood vessels and nerves. This explains very simply why it hurts when you stub your toe or drop something on your foot. Your feet are a critical part of your body which is used every day and enables you to do your job more effectively.

Protective Footwear

Protective footwear worn in different workplaces are designed to protect the foot from physical hazards such as falling objects, stepping on sharp objects, heat and cold, wet and slippery surfaces, or exposure to corrosive chemicals. Whilst the toe cap protects from falling objects and compression dangers, some designs are installed with a steel plate in the middle of the sole to prevent against punctures or penetration that may come from glass, nails or metal shards from below. These are called puncture resistant midsoles and often come in steel or very strong materials like Kevlar fabric. The varying leather upper designs protect from the elements (heat and cold) and work environment dangers like chemicals. The bottom of the shoe which comes into contact with the surface upon which one walks, is called the outer sole or simply the sole; and this construction and design compound safeguards against wet and slippery surfaces, as well as oils/acids/diesel/petrol and other chemicals.

Foot Injuries In The Workplace

Work related foot injuries can be broken down into two main categories. The first category includes foot injuries from punctures, crushing, sprains, and severe cuts. They account for 10 to 15 % of all reported disabling injuries. The second group of injuries includes those resulting from slips, trips, and falls. They account for up to 20% percent of all reported disabling injuries. Slips and falls do not always result in a foot injury, but lack of attention to foot safety plays an important role in their occurrence.

What To Look For When Buying Safety Boots & Shoes

When purchasing safety footwear there are numerous things to take into account and think about prior to purchase. Most importantly; when sizing – the footwear should always offer a snug fit, with the heel being gripped firmly. This prevents the foot from slipping inside when walking. And the forepart should allow free movement of the toes. The sole design should have numerous low and wide contact points with the surface upon which they walk, providing solid grip. Whilst leather uppers may stretch and even be broken in over time, steel toe caps will not stretch. Always have both feet measured when buying shoes – feet normally differ in size between the left and right. Even by a small margin. But you should always by a size which will fit the bigger foot. It is always recommended to buy shoes late in the afternoon, when feet are likely to be at their largest; swollen to their maximum size after a full day’s work. Gravity and blood flow contribute up to a 7% difference in foot size between waking up in the morning (and standing on your feet for the first time) – until after being on your feet after a full work day. Soft, comfortable and padded shock absorbing insoles should always be looked at inside the boot or shoe as a definitive requirement if your job requires a lot of walking or standing on hard floors for extended hours.

Picking The Right Footwear

Using the proper safety footwear, suited to the specific work environment is critically important, not only for foot comfort but also for one’s general well-being in the workplace. Improperly sourced footwear can cause or aggravate existing foot problems. And unfortunately, being fashionable sometimes takes precedence over choosing well-fitting, supportive and industry specific, protective safety footwear. Fashion should never be the first factor in choice.

Safety footwear for the workplace offers many kinds of protection for workers but most importantly one has to remember the fundamental principle of occupational health and safety: those occupational hazards should be eliminated at the source. The role of PPE (personal protective equipment) is to minimise exposure to specific occupational hazards, not to eliminate them. Therefore, safety footwear does not guarantee total protection.

When viewing a range of products, always ensure the shoe or boot of choice addresses the work environment and covers all risks in that environment, relating to protection from falling objects and static objects, puncture and penetration protection, cutting hazards, electrical and static hazard, slips, trips and falls, foot fatigue prevention, heat or chemical burn prevention, weather (elements) and water protection. No leather footwear is 100% waterproof or insulated to provide protection against the cold, rain and snow. Be sure to select specialised options that are made from appropriate materials. A simple error is made numerous times a day where a leather safety boot is purchased for a very wet or water based work environment; where a PVC gumboot would address the work condition far more effectively and at a more cost effective price.

Speak to the professionals who are happy to guide your selection: : : +27 11 892 8030 / 8031 / 8032

Different Styles of Safety Boots

Why The Need for Different Styles of Safety Footwear

One of the questions we field multiple times on a daily basis is “What is the cheapest safety boot you have available”. For years a grudge spend with many companies needing to simply comply to safety standards. The mindset is, a boot is a boot is a boot and budgets have been set for the cheapest product available.

Whilst price is important, the wrong boot placed in the wrong work environment can become a safety hazard and a very expensive injury or liability. Different sites have different risks. As we educate safety officers and procurement managers around Southern Africa; I have begun calling this the “bird sanctuary mentality”. As all you hear is “cheep-cheep, cheep-cheep”. Selling a cheap boot simply because you want an order and a sale, is not something safety footwear experts allow or accept.

Which Safety Boot Should I Pick?

Most companies believe all safety shoes and boots are manufactured exactly the same way, from exactly the same materials, and all have the same functionality and features. This is the worst misconception in the safety footwear industry. It’s important to solve problems, not only sell products. And this is the reason our range comprises of 22 different safety boots and safety shoes for both men and women. We cater for an entry level econo (short term contractors), the mid-range bulk purchase, the specialist need and the top end heavy duty style. Various grades of leather, altering leather substance, variations in water repellent properties, scuff resistance, longevity of the sole, variance in heat resistance, puncture resistant properties, flexibility of the sole (check our blog post on different sole compounds for more information on this), lace up or slip-on, height of ankle protection, different grades of biomechanical footbeds and innersoles, resistance to oils, acids, petrol and diesel, higher levels of slip ratings, chemical resistant ratings, suitability for welding and metatarsal guard protection.

The Right Safety Boot For The Right Job

Every risk in one’s work environment needs to be addressed to find out which boot meets the minimum standard required in that particular work environment. Some companies have up to 4 or 5 different needs within their own company. One boot most certainly doesn’t fit all work environments when it comes to safety footwear. Otherwise every company would only sell 1 boot and 1 shoe style. We make different boots suited for different work environments aimed predominantly at the food and beverage industry, road laying, chemical manufacture, engineering, construction, mining, warehousing, automotive, agriculture and different departments in municipality.

Quality Safety Shoes – You Get What You Pay For

Going the cheapest route, 90% of the time results in having to buy each employee 3 or 4 pairs of boots a year. Giving safety footwear and safety footwear brands a negative reputation. This is unfortunately unfounded. Because cheap boots are purchased for an entire workforce for R275 per pair. Where, if assessed and recommended, one could find a suitable product fit for that environment which carries a 1 year manufacturing warranty for R600 per pair. Penny wise, pound foolish. The right boot would end up being more cost effective in the long run and last for longer. Ultimately in this example saving the company more than R500 per employee over a financial year. It pays to make smarter decisions earlier on and allow professionals to assist your choice making.

Let The Safety Boot Experts Guide You

ProFit Safety Footwear has a highly experienced team and we only work with distributors who like to offer solutions, not just collect orders and move boxes. Why use an entry level boot with laces when your company specialises in welding? Why use a safety shoe with exposed metals on the upper when you work in the automotive sector? And why use a boot that only has a 90 degree heat resistance if you are laying road (bitumen/tar) or working in a smelter? Choose the right product from the beginning and allow us to help stop making safety footwear a grudge spend. The experts are here to help.

Contact the team today to get advice on the best design and style of safety shoe for your work environment – or give us a call on +27 11 892 8030

The Importance of Wide Fitting Boots/Shoes

When trying on a standard pair of casual shoes, loafers, sneakers or running shoes, most are manufactured from materials that stretch easily and quickly. That said, steel toe cap safety shoes and safety boots are made of soft, pliable and comfortable leather – but as the name suggests, the front part of the product is surrounded by a steel toe cap. This isn’t going to stretch. Picture a steel “baseball cap” for your toes.

Wide Fitting Safety Footwear

Understanding the anatomy of your foot is a very important part of choosing a particular style from a range. Whilst some may be better suited to a particular work environment, and others may seem more stylish… you really do need to take into account the width of your foot across the 5 phalanges (from the base of the big toe across to your far edge of your pinky toe). Understanding this width will direct you from a standard fitting toe cap, into probably a wide fitting toe cap, expanded wide fitting toe cap or in some cases the need for an extra wide toe cap. Then you can narrow down your search to industry specific and again “fashion” appeal.

The overall design of the shoe is built around a last that fits these varying width toe caps, into the sole and upper design of the shoe. And once again, there isn’t a one size fits all. ProFit Safety Footwear makes use of 4 varying toe cap widths, across more petite ladies feet, and then over a range of wide and expanded wide fitting designs in the men’s and unisex range.

Safety Footwear Design

Understanding the complexities of safety footwear design and construction, becomes more and more important whilst making an informed decision on which fit is best for your feet. And much like a finger print, everyone’s feet are unique in many different ways. Length, width, high or low arch, high or low bridge, etc.

Wide Fitting Safety Footwear Q&A

Doesn’t all footwear stretch as you break them in? – When trying on a standard pair of casual shoes, loafers, sneakers or running shoes, most are manufactured from materials that stretch easily and quickly. That said, steel toe cap safety shoes and safety boots are made of soft, pliable and comfortable leather – but as the name suggests, the front part of the product is surrounded by a steel toe cap. This isn’t going to stretch. Picture a steel “baseball cap” for your toes.

Is foot anatomy important in choosing safety footwear? – Understanding the anatomy of your foot is a very important part of choosing a particular style from a range. Whilst some may be better suited to a particular work environment, and others may seem more stylish… you really do need to take into account the width of your foot across the 5 phalanges (from the base of the big toe across to your far edge of your pinky toe). Understanding this width will direct you from a standard fitting toe cap, into probably a wide fitting toe cap, expanded wide fitting toe cap or in some cases the need for an extra wide toe cap. Then you can narrow down your search to industry specific and again “fashion” appeal.

What is a footwear last? – The overall design of the shoe is built around a last that fits these varying width toe caps, into the sole and upper design of the shoe. And once again, there isn’t a one size fits all. ProFit Safety Footwear makes use of 4 varying toe cap widths, across more petite ladies feet, and then over a range of wide and expanded wide fitting designs in the men’s and unisex range.

Contact the team today to get advice on the perfect fitting safety shoe – or give us a call on +27 11 892 8030

The Different Sole Compounds

It is a part of your safety shoe or safety boot that doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Again, a critical component that needs understanding in order to make an informed decision prior to your purchase. All shoes have a sole, which is the bottom of a shoe, the part that comes into full contact with the ground.

Modern Soles can be made from a variety of materials, but most modern safety shoes have soles made from:

  • PU (Polyurethane)
  • TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane)
  • Rubber soles

Prior to these compounds – during the 90’s – polyvinyl chloride (PVC) was popular. Today however, it is fairly rare and rather obsolete.

More than 90% of the safety footwear sold and purchased globally will be manufactured out of Polyurethane. Either single density or dual/double density. Dual density has become the global standard due to the fact it offers both a hard-wearing outsole (which takes the impact and pounding of the earth below) and a softer, more cushioned midsole. The midsole, being of a different shore hardness (Shore Hardness is a measure of the resistance a material has to indentation) allows spring and cushioning which provides comfort. Single density doesn’t have this best of both worlds scenario – so has to compromise on either the longevity of a hard wearing outsole or the comfort factor. This ends up either being very hard and inflexible… or not hard wearing enough.

Polyurethane Soles

Polyurethane injected soles in safety footwear; are intrinsically flexible, lightweight, antistatic, oil/acid/petrol & diesel resistant, slip resistant and has a heat resistance of around 90’ degrees to 110’ degrees (on better quality chemicals). Due to the massive quantities sold worldwide, it is the cheapest of the predominantly utilised compounds.

Thermoplastic Polyurethane

Thermoplastic Polyurethane soled product is more specialist; a little less flexible, very lightweight, oil/acid/petrol & diesel resistant, but slightly less slip resistant. It also carries a 90’ degree heat resistant but most importantly, it does have the impressive quality of being cut resistant. A nice feature. Due to its specialist nature – it does carry a price premium.

Rubber Soles

And that brings us to the heavy duty sole offering, which is Rubber. More expensive, heavier, but designed to take on the harshest work environments in construction, engineering and mining. It has a harder compound, offering a superior degree of both cut and puncture resistance, as well as resistance to some harsher chemicals. It also boasts a 300’ degree heat resistant outsole which also makes it non-conductive. Great for applications around both heat, extreme cold and electrical current.

At ProFit Safety Footwear we make use of a range of 5 different anti-static, dual density polyurethane soles – and 4 different heat-resistant and non-conductive rubber soles.

Contact the team today to get advice on the best sole for your purpose – or give us a call on +27 11 892 8030

SIZING: The Single Most Important Factor when Buying Safety Footwear

It’s probably been a very long time since you were a kid, experiencing the years pass you by between age 6 and 18. I recall vividly, the annual (or sometimes bi-annual) anguish my parents visually expressed when I advised them my school shoes no longer fitted my feet. That rapid growth from kiddies size 11 to adult size 5 over the space of just 4 or 5 years goes to shows the remarkable and ever changing foot growth we experience. It’s important to remember that whilst around age 18 things start to become more “stable” and growth does plateau… but, your feet never stop growing. Now when wearing a slipslop, sandal, running shoe, dress shoe or even slippers, all these upper materials can and will stretch and distort. They are flexible and designed to do so. Of course you need to be in the correct “ball-park” size, but even if you are out a little bit, you don’t experience serious discomfort or fatigue. The soles are soft and super flexible, made from super lightweight PVC or EVA. And for example, if you are a Size 8, that will be the first size you ask for when trying on a new pair in store. Often, you may even ask for a Size 7 and Size 9 to accompany the fitting session. You walk around a bit, maybe jump up and down once or twice and even do a little Usain Bolt sprint over a few metres. And once satisfied, you purchase.

In the industrial sector, we have a few things to take into consideration.

  • You, or your company procurement manager may be making a bulk purchase of one style of shoe or boot for an entire workforce. This, simply issued to you based on previous purchase records from the years’ before, or on your stating your size at your new place of work.
  • The upper materials on safety footwear are not fabrics or materials, but thick leather animal hides. They are able to be “broken-in”, and soften over a week or two with the application of polish (nourishment) and exposure to heat (like the sun) and your daily foot movement.
  • We now have an immovable steel toe cap at the front. Which will cover your forefoot and toes. It does not bend, flex or stretch. It will not be broken!

These three factors are the founding principles of why accurate sizing is crucial to comfort, safety and productivity. And why it is so important to ensure you are getting into the correct size safety boot or shoe.

We always stress to our clients, that our footwear is graded and measured to be purchased in UK sizing. Often errors are made when someone buys in US sizing, which is a full size difference out. That will bring a whole world of hurt, confusion and irritation to the purchaser who will argue that the “boot is a problem”, where the entire exercise can simply be resolved with asking if they ordered based on UK or US sizing. And what about continental (EUR) sizing? Size 42 for example, is a UK Size 8.

So it becomes very important to make sure you check your conversion country, and sizing annually. Age, bodyweight and work environment all play a part in foot sizing changing over the years or even during the course of the day. The foot is about 7% larger in the afternoon than when you woke and stood up on the same morning. So we always recommend measuring your feet in the afternoon, as to ensure the boot or shoe will fit best at your largest size during the day. Every extra 5kgs of weight you add to your frame, also applies further pressure onto your feet and makes them larger. In the same way your pants size changes.

We get calls from clients asking us to please tell them what size they should buy, based on what shoe they normally wear daily (the DWK; dans / werk and kerk). The easiest way to check this measurement is often to stand barefoot, on a blank A4 sheet of paper… corner to corner, and measure from the furthest point of the outer edge of your foot, from the centre of your heel to your big toe. Based on that centimetre reading, you will fall into a sizing chart.

We’ve added this sizing chart for you to review before your purchase.

And one final thing, a nice comfortable, snug fit is exactly what you want. Don’t buy a size up because of the steel toe cap. Toe caps are designed with a bit of “let” in the front. Buy the UK size you normally wear. You don’t want a boot or shoe that is too big (or you will slide around inside), nor too small (as the tightness will end up causing pressure on the nerves around the feet, blisters on the toes, and a burning sensation underneath the feet).

So get it right the first time, be comfortable and stay productive. It is not always the boot’s fault 😊

US SizesEuro SizesUK SizesInchesCM

Basic safety boot and shoe care guidelines

Whilst your ProFit safety boots are tough and are built to take a beating whilst your are hard at work there are a few basic things that need to be taken into consideration, there are also a few basic steps you can take to make sure those boots last longer and remain impervious to your busy day on site.

How Do I Look After My Safety Boots & Safety Shoes?

  • Polish your boots regularly, with a commercial available footwear product (like Kiwi or Nugget), including on the day of purchase – before first wear. Do not use synthetic squeegee type bottles with a sponge end.
  • Clean your shoes regularly (use the spun bonded cloth inside the box) to remove excess dirt and grime on the upper.
  • Remove excess mud, dust or dirt with a brush from the sole.
  • Remove any upper marks using a damp cloth or light soapy solution if necessary.
  • Never force dry the footwear (near a fire, heater or with a hair dryer) if it becomes wet, as a direct heat source may distort the upper and cause the leather to crack. (Crumple newspaper into balls and jam them into the shoe/boot to absorb water overnight)
  • Never leave the bio-degradable PU soles in an unventilated or dark environment for long periods (over 24 months) in order to avoid hydrolysis.
  • Always undo the laces of the boot before removing. Do not try and turn it into a slip on. Constant standing on, and pressure applied to the back of the boot may cause the upper to loosen from the sole.
  • Allow the boot to dry “internally” overnight – open the tongue as far forward as possible and remove the top-sock/insole. (Your feet sweat 200ml per day).
  • Never throw “foot powder” into the boot. Foot powder is for the foot and not the boot! Powder inside the boot can become a paste (when mixed with sweat) and will trap air flow, reducing the breathability of the leather – thereby increasing the temperature inside the boot.
  • Where possible try to avoid deliberately scuffing the upper leather, treading on sharp edges that can cut the sole and walking/working in excess water for long periods of time. All of these can start to degrade the overall material of the shoe and cause long last irreparable damage.

Contact the team today to get advice on the perfect safety shoe for your job – or give us a call on +27 11 892 8030

Polyurethane Injected Soles and Hydrolysis

Our soles are made of PU (Polyurethane soles) in order to be anti-slip, anti-static and oil/acid resistant.

Because PU has organic origins, it is biodegradable over time.

In a society where increasing attention is being focused on protecting our fragile environment, many progressive companies are insisting that, as far as possible, consumables such as safety footwear conform to environmentally sound specifications. The process of biodegradation is slow, taking place over many years, ultimately rendering the polyurethane to a number of benign compounds.

However, to ensure the longevity of the footwear it needs to be stored in the correct conditions. If left in an unventilated area for between 12 and 24 months (or longer), the soles will go through a process called Hydrolysis in which the plasticizer (which makes the soles flexible) leaves the sole, and the soles becomes very soft, then brittle, and begin to crack and break into small pieces.

Hydrolysis is a double decomposition reaction, with water as one of the reactants. Simply put, the oxygen atom in water bonds with the carbon atom of the esters in the polyurethane. This carbon – oxygen bond is unstable, and eventually also breaks down, leading to the gradual disintegration of the polyurethane.

Hydrolysis in safety footwear only becomes a serious issue when four factors combine to create the ideal environment:

  • Water
  • Temperature
  • Darkness
  • Time

Therefore, lengthy storage (longer than two years) in a hot and humid climate is potentially the perfect catalyst for hydrolysis.

New polyurethane formulations and the addition of more sophisticated chemicals significantly retard the process of hydrolysis, but following a few simple steps can almost eliminate it entirely:

  • Rotate stock frequently on a first in, first out basis. Do not keep polyurethane soled footwear on the shelf for longer than a year.
  • Be aware of the climate in which the footwear will be worn.
  • Encourage the wearer to properly aerate the footwear after use.
  • Do not wear polyurethane soled footwear where gumboots would be more suitable.

The effects of Hydrolysis cannot be seen as a fault, but simply a characteristic of the compounds used to create the soles.

However, if warn regularly and the shoes are then in fresh air, warmth and sunlight the product will not experience this process. In fact, the shoes should then last for many years. Boots of 4 to 5 years old are quite commonly seen in good condition when maintained and polished regularly.

We have printed the warning regarding Hydrolysis on the fabric insert inside the box, to make end users aware of it.

Contact the team today to get advice on the perfect fitting safety shoe – or give us a call on +27 11 892 8030