CIMAC, your partner for innovation, monitoring, consultancy, and analysesAcross-the-board interview with engineer Giuseppe Bellotti, Technical Director of CIMAC, the Italian Centre for Footwear Application Materials
From the latest obligations for occupational and safety footwear, to consulting activities and the development of new cutting-edge materials… for over 30 years, this Vigevano centre has been providing key insight and irreplaceable support to footwear manufacturers, who have found and continue to find it to be an important partner for innovation, the monitoring of regulations, analyses and test, and quality certifications.
Engineer Bellotti, what are the latest PPE obligations for occupational and safety footwear?
Category II and III PPE must be certified by a Notified Body before being placed on the market.
And this is nothing new.
What changes is the Certification’s underlying legislative reference: the essential requirements of health and safety in PPE, previously set down by Directive 89/686/EEC, have now been replaced by the new PPE Regulation (EU) 2016/425, which supersedes the Directive as of 21 April 2019.
• Category II and III PPE that is placed on the market before 21 April 2019 can still be certified in accordance with the Directive. Their certificates will remain valid until 21 April 2023, unless there are updates regarding the harmonized standards (standards that describe how to verify the conformity of PPE with the requirements of health and safety).
- PPE placed on the market after 21 April 2019 must be certified in accordance with the Regulation.
• After 21 April 2023, all Category II and III PPE will have to be certified in accordance with the Regulation.
When comparing it to the Directive, it’s important to remember the Regulation introduces the concept of validity (duration) of the Certificate, which has now been set at 5 years from the date of issue.
The Regulation also includes the concept of PPE traceability: the CE marking must include a series of elements in addition to the complete address of the manufacturer.
Monitoring of the European regulation: in which way will CIMAC help footwear manufacturers align themselves with the mandatory obligations?
CIMAC has always participated in work groups dedicated to analysing regulations, both nationally and internationally: we play an active role and are aware of any changes right from the start. We participate in all phases regarding the application of regulations, as well as in ensuring product conformity through experimentation.
We have always made our expertise and experience available to everyone, both through meetings and educational seminars, as well as through newsletters, to ensure the information we have on hand is the latest.
What about new tests for footwear? What is the most innovative technology you apply to safety footwear in your laboratories?
If we’re talking about CE markings and relative products tests, the obligations of health and safety are established by the Regulation (and previously by the Directive) as well as by the harmonized standards.
So, the study and development of new materials is mostly based on the evolution of the regulation.
And the Certification Body must keep pace with these changes.
In this sense CIMAC is already set to test anti-perforation toe-caps and inserts in accordance with the EN ISO 22568 standard (that will replace the current EN 12568 regulation), just like it ready to undertake anti-slip and footwear outsole perforation tests, which are also currently being revised.
We have all the equipment needed to carry out all the tests required for Certification, including even the most specific kinds of tests, like protection against radiant heat (for Firefighter footwear) and against cuts by hand-held chainsaws (a requirement of forest service footwear).
Study/development of new materials: what are the latest innovations you propose to companies that produce safety footwear?
The market requires highly breathable fabrics, self-cleaning materials, materials capable of minimizing on-the-job impacts, and extremely light and flexible footwear, which means materials with a low density.
These are some of the trends.
In CIMAC, we can support research and development through specific tests.
As attentive observers of the market, what does CIMAC consider to be the latest safety footwear trends?
Protection and reliability are always priority, but today also the look plays an important role.
Occupational and safety footwear are increasingly similar to shoes for leisure time.
In fact, numerous brands associated with sports and free time are producers of safety footwear.
Wearers of safety shoes also value fashion: technological evolution is accordingly joined by aesthetic research.