If you or your employees wear slip resistant work shoes and are working on surfaces or in environments that include water, moisture, oil, chemicals or hot/cold temperatures, then making sure everyone is wearing the best slip-resistant safety shoes or work boots for the job is important to help reduce their risk of injury. Whether they are steel toe shoes, composite toe or aluminum toe CSA shoes, thinking about safety features should also incorporate the sole and grip they provide. With such a wide range of safety footwear available, it may seem there’s a lot to know, but it really comes down to 3 factors related to the sole (or outsole). And much like car tire design, they involve pattern, material and terrain.
In general the more surface area and the "busier" the pattern, the better the traction. Take a look at these examples.
Pattern #1. This pattern is too flat to provide any real traction other than on a clean, dry surface.
Pattern #2. Lots of surface area and good channels. This sort of sole pattern is not unlike an all-season radial tire. The large surface area gives your employees lots of contact with the walking surface and the well-defined channels help to channel water away to avoid hydroplaning.
Pattern #3. A cross between #2 & #4. It has a slightly deeper lug pattern than #2, but more surface area then #4. It is suitable for outdoor wear on concrete, asphalt, and somewhat rough terrain.
Pattern #4. This sole pattern has a deep lug and is suitable for rugged outdoor work such as forestry. It’s not unlike the types of tires you would find on an All-Train-Vehicle (ATV). These are good for climbing up dirt or grassy hills and are good for walking on gravel but don’t provide good traction for smoother or slicker surfaces.
Polyurethane is a lightweight soling material. It typically is oil & chemical resistant, abrasion resistant and offers a high degree of comfort on hard surfaces
Rubber is very diverse in its nature. Some rubber formulas can be soft and pliable; these types tend to offer better traction in cold weather applications along the same lines as a winter tire.
Nitrile rubber is a highly heat resistant (up to 300°C) rubber soling material that has excellent chemical and abrasion resistance. It also offers excellent traction both in oily environments and in cold weather
Thermoplastic Polyurethane (T.P.U.) is a urethane formula with a rubber compound added to it. The rubber compound makes the TPU perform better in colder temperatures and improves its abrasion resistance.
Dual-density is a combination of softer, low density material made from E.V.A or polyurethane and then add a skin that serves as the sole. E.V.A offers good traction especially in cold weather. P.U (Polyurethane) versions provide “all season” traction.
Understanding the surfaces your employees work on is just as important. Concrete, asphalt, gravel, indoor/outdoor, hot/cold temperatures each play an important contributing factor in how slip resistant your employees’ safety footwear will be. More importantly, they help us recommend the best safety footwear.
We’re here to help
Our experts in safety footwear fit, comfort and safety have “kicked the tires” for every type of industry and work environment and can help evaluate the right outsole pattern and material for the terrain your employees are working on. So whether you are providing direction to your employees or are looking for a full footwear solution for your business, we’re here to help.