New standards for work and safety shoes: better but more complicated
Work and safety shoes make their miles on many more work floors than you might think. Hospitals, home care, restaurants, construction, and chemicals. Millions of people depend on work and safety shoes for the health of their feet and legs. Standards are therefore necessary to get that right. But things are not getting any easier with the arrival of the two revised new standards for safety footwear and work footwear without a safety toe cap.
Our Technical Director, Jan Dirksen, was interviewed about the new standards for work and safety footwear due to his role in the NEN standards committee "Foot and leg protection". Jan has been a member of this committee for several years and has helped to devise and amend the ISO standards. His goal is primarily to improve standards to benefit users and safety in work environments. In addition, the standards affect what Neskrid does as a company, so Jan thinks it is important to know what the standards entail and to be able to prepare for them as a company. Even though the Netherlands is only a small country, it is important to have a voice. Jan uses the opportunity in both the national and European standards committee to apply his knowledge.
According to Jan, the creation and modification of standards is very important, both for the producer and for the user. When a shoe is used under working conditions, the shoe will have to meet certain requirements. Think of a farmer who works on his land with shoes resistant to fertilizers, a metal worker with heat-resistant shoes, a construction worker who must have shoes with a steel nose and a sole that is difficult to penetrate, the hospital employee who must have comfortable working shoes.
Several new standards have been created, such as the NEN-EN-ISO 20344:2021 "Personal protective equipment - Test methods for footwear", ISO 20345:2021 "Personal protective equipment - Safety footwear" and ISO 20347:2021 "Personal protective equipment - Work footwear". The first contains all kinds of test methods for footwear applied by accredited test institutes and the other two standards contain the real requirements for work and safety footwear. It is important that manufacturers understand the content of the changes and adapt their production process accordingly.
The new standards will create changes, but also ambiguity. To inform everyone about what the new standards will mean for them and to increase clarity, more education is needed. The standards committee will start investigating the best way to share this knowledge with the market.