At the feet of workersElectricians, assemblers, healthcare workers, and farmers… tell us about the strengths and defects of the shoes they wear every day for work.

Nov 20, 2018
Posted in: , Interviews , Safety

Safe, yes, but also comfortable: the workers we spoke with in our report on safety footwear confirm that protection from occupational risks is not enough and that they also require comfort and well-being. For these requirements, they are also willing to spend beyond their company’s budget.

Francesca Arusa
Healthcare Professional in the Surgery Department at the Istituto Clinico Beato Matteo in Vigevano

“We generally use plastic clogs, like the ones made by Calzuro: the hospital provides them to us or, in alternative, we can buy them directly off the Internet or from specialised stores. The only requirement is that they must be certified and comply with current legislation.

The shoes must also be made of plastic in order to avoid biological hazards and they must not allow blood or other fluids to penetrate under their membrane. This way they are also easier to wash in the washing machine. They are certainly not the most comfortable shoes because, even if they are perforated on the upper part, they allow the foot to breathe very little. If I could make one recommendation to the producers, I would ask them to include at least an insole for the increased comfort and breathability of the foot”.

Cristina Terzi
Wiring Technician at Termotech in Vigevano

“For some time now, our company has been supplying us with Diadora safety shoes: they are very attractive in terms of aesthetics and seem almost like a normal pair of sneakers, only they mount all the safety devices required by our profession, including reinforced technical fabrics and metal toecaps that are shock-resistant and crush-resistant. In the past, I had difficulty finding safety footwear in my size, which is 35. Fortunately, Diadora also proposes smaller sizes.

As far as comfort is concerned, I cannot say the toecap is especially comfortable: it can be felt, especially when walking. At the beginning, when the footwear is new, the toes of your foot hurt at the end of the day. Then, once you get used to them, the pain disappears, but an uncomfortable feeling persists. It might be possible to eliminate this feeling by inserting padding between the toes of the foot and the toecap.

As far as the lifetime of the shoes is concerned, in my case, they sometimes last even a little more than a year: when they wear out or when the insole becomes too thin, I tell my employer who immediately buys a new pair”.

Luciano Putrone
Mechanical Fitter at the Officina Meccanica Sagitta machine shop in Vigevano

“What am I looking for in a pair of safety shoes? Since it is the shoe you end up wearing the most in your lifetime, it must be safe, of quality, but also comfortable, while guaranteeing well-being. Our company provides us with a voucher to purchase a pair of safety shoes, but the amount only covers the most basic model, which, despite being fitted with all the required safety devices is not necessarily high quality or comfortable and this is very important to the well-being of the foot, joints, and back. This is why I prefer to add something from my own pocket to the company’s budget, in order to purchase a higher quality model like Diadora or Lotto, which I’m currently wearing: generally, I buy one pair in the summer and another in the winter, and they last me around a year. As the workers’ safety representative at my company, I also urge my colleagues to invest in a higher quality model. Not everyone listens to me: there are those who are happy with the basic model provided by the company’s voucher and who continue to wear them even when they are almost completely worn out…

Compared to twenty years ago, luckily today there is a much more extensive selection and it is possible find a shoe with the desired quality and comfort. Of course, such shoes do not come cheap: for a good pair of shoes you have to spend at least 100 euros.

At the shop, the protective devices of our safety shoes include a toecap – which is extremely uncomfortable, especially when the shoe is new, and an anti-slip and penetration-resistant sole. One thing I would recommend for a greater sense of well-being would be to improve the breathability”.

Piernicola Nicolodi
Local Police Officer for the City of Milan

“The footwear provided by Headquarters is very comfortable: I’ve even used them when I’m not on active duty and I must say they are genuinely comfortable. They include all the individual protection devices required by law – with anti-slip, cut-resistant, and other special features– while at the same time keeping the foot insulated, comfortable, and not only warm in the winter, but also sweat-free in the summer… I must be sincere; we have never been supplied with better shoes than these ones. The brand is Soldini, which won the Local Police Force safety shoe bid and which I believe also won that of the tram drivers for the City of Milan: they are given to us along with our uniforms. We are also provided with civil shoes for the office, which can even be worn with our official livery, but in this case, it is not safety footwear”.

Marco Campari
Owner of the Azienda Agricola Campari farm in Cassolnovo

“Safety footwear used in the fields must protect feet from being crushed and must therefore have a safety toecap, while those used in our facilities must be cut-resistant. As far as I’m concerned, I usually use Diadora and Cofra, while my employees are free to choose whatever they like from a price range of 60 to 80 euros per pair. It is important to have safety devices for the protection of our feet, but just as important is the comfort and well-being of the foot, since we wear these shoes for at least ten hours a day. The most basic models are genuine ‘foot breakers’, and even higher quality models must often be integrated with insoles and arch supports to make them comfortable”.

Alessandro Magri
FedEx Ground Package Delivery Driver in Milan

“The safety footwear supplied by FedEx is from the G-Power brand and features various devices like a toecap and anti-slip sole. They are not especially uncomfortable, even if at the end of the day, you can feel them… but when it comes to lightness and breathability, in my opinion, there is no better shoe than Diadora. Unfortunately, at FedEx, we do not have the possibility of wearing a shoe different from the one chosen by the company, unless we provide them with a medical certificate confirming we have special needs… Since I do not qualify for such certification and I run around the city all day long, a little more comfort and lightness in my shoes would be quite welcome”.

Giovanni Abilone
Owner of the one-man business GA impianti elettrici in Vigevano

“At my job it is essential to wear safety shoes, which include all the devices of personal protection pertaining to my job as an electrician: toecap, ESD soles… Over time, the selection and number of safety footwear brands has increased, and so I have the possibility of finding shoes that are more suited to my ‘delicate feet’. The brand I trust in the most is Cofra: certainly, it costs a little more than others do, but its shoes are very comfortable, almost exceeding the comfort of my sneakers! I usually buy two pairs every year, one for the winter and one that is lower cut and fresher for the summer. And the amount I spend can be deducted from my taxes as equipment for my job.

If it were possible, I would increase the comfort of the insoles or shock-absorbing gel, above all in the heel area, which is the most sensitive part of my foot”.

Sergio Piovan
Real Estate Developer for the F.lli Piovan snc company in Garlasco

“I generally use Diadora and Cofra as my preferred brands of safety shoes. Cofra is my favourite: its shoes are very comfortable, ergonomic, breathable, and so soft when walking that it almost feels like you are wearing a pair of sneakers. Obviously, they have all the protective devices required by the construction industry: a toecap, anti-slip sole, penetration-resistant inner midplate, etc.…. In terms of models, I use low shoes in the office and either ankle-height boots or low boots at the construction site, which are better for protecting the ankle.

Diadora, instead, does not guarantee the same level of breathability, maybe because of the sole that is mounted on the side of its footwear: a feature, which from one side, avoids the ‘deformation’ of the shoe, but which from the other side, overheats the foot.

My shoes sometimes last even two years:  but it’s because I go back and forth between the office and construction site. If I passed the entire day on-site, instead, they would wear out sooner: the biggest problem for our shoes is represented by lime. Even just a few drops can eat away at the stitching”.

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