By Rehan Iqbal
When it comes to workplace safety, the type of shoes you wear is an important factor that should not be overlooked. Depending on your job and industry, non-slip shoes are vital to prevent workplace accidents of varying degrees.
When it comes to non-slip shoes, there are many different options. It’s important to look at the actual material the shoe soles are made of. Keep reading to learn about the advantages and disadvantages of five different non-slip outsole materials.
Outsoles with Traction for Slip Resistant Shoes
Polyurethane is an elastomer. It has many advantages in footwear. It can handle a lot of wear and tear, and will bounce back to its original shape once the pressure is removed. PU is also very lightweight and makes for comfortable shoes. They are well-known for their slip-resistance.
However, the disadvantages of PU are that they are not as slip-resistant as rubber soles, nor are they as insulated or waterproof. With prolonged exposure to water and wet environments, the life of the shoe will be compromised.
One example of a shoe with a polyurethane sole are Timberland safety shoes.
Thermoplastic Rubber (TPR)
Thermoplastic rubber, as the name suggests, is a synthetic rubber. TPR shoes tend to be lightweight and offer good support for your feet. They offer good oil, acid and chemical resistance.
However, they are not as durable as other kinds of soles. When stressed, TPR is more likely to break than to bend and bounce back. Depending on what your job requires of you, this may be an important factor to consider.
For a thermoplastic rubber outsole, consider Steelflex’s steel toe outshoe, which can be worn over your own shoes.
Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate (EVA)
EVA is another durable, lightweight option. Shoes with EVA soles have higher shock absorption, which can help when working in environments where slipping is a hazard. EVA is fairly abrasion-resistant, chemical-resistant, and oil-resistant, and its durability in these areas is one of its key advantages.
However, many people find that shoes with EVA soles do not breathe as easily as other shoes, and they are not as heat-resistant as other materials. You may also find that EVA shoes have a shorter life-span than other shoes because they lose their supportive nature over time.
One example of a work clog with an EVA sole is Zinc from Shoes for Crews.
Vibram is a type of vulcanized rubber. Vibram sole shoes are popular among hikers for their grip and durability. They offer great traction, even on slippery or wet surfaces. In addition, the tread pattern on Vibram soles tends to run deeper, which increases their traction. They are oil and abrasion resistant.
Vibram is its own brand. It supplies its products to different shoe companies making shoes for different activities. Not all Vibram soles are the same. Some Vibram shoes with more minimalist tread patterns, like their Five-Finger running shoes, do not offer the same advantages as other shoes meant for labor, and may result in injury if used in the wrong environment. Make sure the shoe you choose is right for your needs.
A popular option with this sole is the Chippewa Cutter Western work boot.
Rubber soles can last a long time. They offer good traction and grip. Carbon rubber has been known for a long time as a reliable material that gives non-slip shoes their traction.
Unfortunately, rubber shoes are not as resistant to oils as other shoe options. If you work in an environment where oil-resistant shoes are important, carbon rubber may not be the right choice for you. They can sometimes be heavier than the other materials listed here.
For a shoe with a carbon rubber sole, check out the Timberland PRO Endurance work boot.
Why Does Shoe Material Matter?
The ASTM, or American Society for Testing and Materials, provides standards which calculate the coefficient of friction when deciding which non-slip shoes measure up and which ones don’t. ASTM slip-testing standards look at various factors that may influence occupational safety, such as water, ice, oil, soap, and grease. A shoe that fits ASTM standards should offer good resistance to most or all of these.
When shopping for non-slip shoes, check that the shoes have been certified by the ASTM. It’s the best way to ensure safety at your workplace and reduce the risk of injury or accident.
When deciding on the right non-slip sole for you, consider carefully all the workplace hazards you might run into. For instance, if you work in an environment where grease or oil is a concern, make sure to choose a shoe that is resistant to these hazards.
If you can, try to shop for shoes in-person rather than ordering online. Shopping in-person allows you to try the shoes on, and ultimately, this is the best way to see if a shoe is right for you. It will help you make a better decision than if you had simply read about their specs online. Here’s to a safe and slip-resistant future!