Industrial safety footwear supplier Rebel Safety Gear launched its entry-level safety footwear range, the FX2, earlier this month.
Rebel Safety Gear MD Gavin Cooke says that the company saw a need to supply an affordable safety work boot to the market, without customers having to compromise on safety, quality or comfort.
Cooke says that manufacturers began introducing cheaper components into the footwear industry and this increased the safety risk of workers using the footwear.
Rebel Safety Gear embarked on an 18-month search for a product range that was affordable, but offered high-quality foot protection. He adds that many of the products that were tested over the 18-month period did not comply with international requirements for safety footwear despite purporting to do so.
A variety of work boots was sourced from Europe, China and India to be tested, as well as the FX2 product range manufactured in China, which Rebel Safety Gear found to be most suitable.
The testing was undertaken by international testing agency Intertek, which is based in the UK.
Cooke says that a large number of construction and roadwork projects are under way in South Africa and many workers have been hired on a contractual basis for the duration of a particular project. He adds that, given the duration of these projects, employers do not want to invest in safety footwear that has greater durability and is more expensive. He believes that companies want to invest in safety footwear for contract workers that will protect the workers and comply with legislation without being too expensive.
“Safety wear is often a ‘grudge spend’ for companies because it does not add to pro- ductivity. It has to be purchased to protect workers and because it is required by legis- lation,” says Cooke.
Rebel Safety Gear also supplies a range of nonmetallic footwear. The toecaps in these shoes are fibre composites instead of the traditional carbon steel toecap.
Cooke explains that there are a number of advantages to metal-free safety footwear. If a heavy object falls on a metallic toecapped shoe, the shoe is damaged and, even though the person’s feet have been protected, it can be difficult to remove the shoe once it has been bent out of shape. Cooke explains that the composite toecap will recover its shape after impact, so that feet can easily be removed.
He adds that these shoes are also useful for workers who have to move through metal detect- ors regularly, work in industries where there are sensitive magnetic or electronic fields or work near X-ray equipment.
The company reports that it has also upgraded and relaunched its most popular footwear range, the RE811 Chukka Boot. It has added yellow stitching and reflector strips for workers who wear them while working in the dark or when travelling to and from work in the dark. In addition, it has rebranded its feminine footwear as the Sheba range.
Cooke says that providing stylish and comfortable footwear is essential for people who have to wear safety shoes all the time. “We want to make them look good and feel comfortable to ensure there is an incentive to wear them rather than [a reason] to take them off,” he concludes.