Why do shoe soles disintegrate?

“What is the service life of safety shoes? And why does the sole disintegrate after a certain period of time?”
Many users ask these questions. This issue also plays an important role in the new versions of our instruction leaflets. We explain why shoes disintegrate and when you should buy new safety shoes.

Different materials in the show have different service lives

A shoe consists of various components, some of them being subject to natural decay at some point. This is often dependent on the chemical composition of a material. This composition can produce certain properties, but it can also be the reason why the material has a certain useful life.

The material that is responsible for the service life of the majority of our shoes is the polyurethane in the midsole and outsole.

Complaints and, in some cases, alleged quality defects generally reach us via our Quality department. Where these concern specific issues, our experts perform a more detailed analysis in order to identify the cause of the problem. They produce a detailed response based on their findings.

„My sole is falling apart!“

We have even received complaints before where shoe soles have fallen apart immediately, despite infrequent use.

The statements made by the wearers of these shoes were often fairly similar: the shoes were worn extremely rarely and were in fact only stored in the cardboard box for a long period of time. 

The wearers had either taken the shoes shown in the photos out of the box in this state, or they had fallen apart straightaway while wearing them.

You should also know that the shoes shown are no longer the latest models. The age of the shoes from their date of manufacture ranges between at least seven years and a maximum of 14 years.

A precise date of manufacture could often not be seen on the tongue labels, and so we had to base this on the last date of production of the model. However, the fact is that all of these shoes had already reached a considerable age and so they appeared to fall apart even though they were only worn very little.

Why do shoe soles disintegrate?

Some of you have no doubt got shoes in your wardrobe of a similar age which are still good to wear. The reason for this is the aforementioned polyurethane (PU) sole material.

Polyurethane (PU) is frequently used in safety shoes as it offers several positive properties.

  • Very light
  • Very flexible
  • Very good shock-absorbing properties
  • Highly abrasion-resistant
  • Good anti-slip properties

All of this has a very beneficial effect on the wearer’s natural movement patterns and when it comes to the product life of the sole as regards mechanical influences.

The specific composition of PU produces these material qualities, but it also affects the service life of the material.

Above all, the PU sole material is subject to a natural ageing process – hydrolysis.

What happens when soles age?

PU consists of long polymer chains that are gradually split apart due to the effect of moisture. As a consequence, PU loses flexibility over time and gradually becomes brittle.

As the shoes reach an advanced age, this can lead to signs of disintegration in the soles.

But why can storing shoes often be more detrimental to their useful life than if they are worn?


Work shoes are often stored in the basement, shed or garage – places where higher levels of moisture are normally present. And it is precisely this moisture that amplifies the hydrolysis process and causes the shoes to age even more quickly, even though they are not actually being worn.

Other sole materials are also subject to ageing processes. For example, the plasticisers contained in the rubber gradually diffuse out of the material. This also causes the soles to lose elasticity and become hard and brittle.

Ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), which is well-known from the sports shoe industry, is not subject to hydrolysis, but it does present one disadvantage: it shrinks more quickly when exposed to constant loads like walking and running, and so it no longer returns to its original shape.

This is easily identifiable from the small “wrinkles” that the material obtains.

Our recommendation for you and your safety shoes

Ageing of safety shoes is an entirely normal process that all shoes go through. If we want to benefit from all the positive properties of a safety shoe, we need to be aware of the limited product life of shoes.

We recommend replacing safety shoes regularly. Due to the use and other influences that also have an effect during storage, the shoes do not last indefinitely. Further information can be found in the instruction leaflet that comes with every shoe.

uvex safety footwear

uvex safety footwear with protection class S1, S1 P, S2, S3 and S5 (EN ISO 20345) provides perfect protection in industry sectors such as automotive and machine construction, in the chemical industry, on construction sites, in service and logistics – but also in outdoor workspaces such as horticulture, agriculture and forestry. Our range also includes occupational footwear (protection class O1, EN ISO 20345) and tailor-made orthopaedic safety footwear.

The uvex phynomic Wet Safety Glove brings Great Relief from Dermatitis for Machine Setter

“I can’t praise the phynomic gloves enough. They are the best. I would buy them myself for outside of work and use them for everything, including DIY. I really rate them.”

The product

Schutzhandschuh uvex phynomic wet Produktbild

uvex phynomic wet

Article number: 60060

  • good grip on wet and oily substances
  • certified to EN 388:2016 4131
  • doesn’t disintegrate easily
  • free of harmful substances


The challenges

Barry, a CNC machinist, had been suffering badly with painful contact dermatitis brought on by exposure to industrial lubrication as part of his job as a computer numeric controlled (CNC) machinist, using precision machinery to manufacture automotive parts. He has been an engineer for 40 years and at his current job for two and a half years.

The lubricant is used when tools are put into the machine – machine setting – and, in spray form, for cooling the machine to help counteract friction during the manufacturing process.

Nitrile disposable gloves were provided to employees, but in most cases were not being worn because they make the hand sweat. These gloves were only habitually being used in extreme cases to protect the hands from oils.

In addition, workers often caught their hands when setting the machines and handling newly-machined non-deburred components that can cause light cuts to the fingers.

Barry had tried a myriad of gloves, many at his own expense, but was becoming increasingly uncomfortable and distressed by the pain in his fingers resulting from dermatitis.


According to the HSE, most cases of work-related skin disease are contact dermatitis caused by exposure to allergens or irritants. Occupations with the highest rates include florists, hairdressers, beauticians, cooks and certain manufacturing and health-care related jobs.1

There are an estimated 17,000 people in work in the UK with skin problems they regard as caused by, or made worse, by work. Over the last five years, there were an estimated 7,000 new cases of self-reported skin problems each year that were caused or made worse by work 1, although this figure is thought to be vastly under-reported.

According to the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, occupational skin disorders (OSDs) including dermatitis will affect 40% of industrial workers at some point in their working life.2

OSDs are amongst the most significant health and safety issues facing industry. They threaten health, safety and efficiency in the workplace and the mental and physical wellbeing of affected workers.

Machine oils, oil-based substances, greases, solvents and lubricants can cause occupational skin disease. Metal working machine operating is one of the occupations that has a much higher dermatitis incidence rate than others at 43.7 cases per 100,000 workers per year1 Exposure to these substances must be avoided.

Occupational skin diseases are estimated to cost the EU EUR 600 million each year, resulting in around 3 million lost working days.3

Research suggests that on average, each reported case of dermatitis costs an employer £6,000 (6.900 €), whilst the average cost of each case of an unreported hand health problem costs an employer £2,000 (2.300 €). 4

Before using uvex phynomic gloves

Barry reports that his fingers were itchy, burning hot, and blistering “The blisters would burst”, he says, “and my hands would become really sore and infected.”

This situation, which had lasted more than seven months, had a huge impact on his life, both in and outside of work, and seriously affected both his physical and mental health.

“Physically, it made me unable to do my job at times, as the pain in my fingers was unbearable,” he recalls.

He had visited his doctor many times and became very depressed because of the pain, and the frustration he felt because his fingers were so awful. He is receiving treatment for this depression. To alleviate his symptoms, Barry had bought and tried a large number of gloves, plus had tried barrier creams, cotton undergloves and latex gloves, but nothing helped.

Although he was quite ill due to the steroids he was taking for the pain, Barry still went to work, taking only a couple of days off when his distress was particularly bad. “I had just been coming to work and suffering,” he recalls.

The uvex solution

One of uvex’s sales managers was invited in to the company to try to help. He recommended that Barry trial the uvex phynomic wet glove, which features a highly breathable aqua-polymer coating ideal for wet and oily conditions, to replace the nitrile disposable gloves.

The phynomic offers superior protection, precision, breathability, comfort and cost-in-use savings against the disposable gloves and ensures excellent grip in slightly oily applications.

Schutzhandschuh uvex phynomic wet Produktbild

Certified to EN 388:2016 4131, the phynomic wet has very high abrasion and, perhaps most importantly in Barry’s case, boasts excellent skin tolerance, confirmed by the proDERM Institute for Applied Dermatological Research, which ensures that the coating is also pure and is kind on the skin so that wearers are less likely to experience any allergic reactions.

The phynomic is certified free of harmful substances in accordance with OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 and conforms to the uvex Pure Standard.

What happened

Barry started to trial the uvex phynomic gloves in December 2018 and saw a vast improvement in all his symptoms almost immediately.

“These gloves have been ideal for my requirements,” he enthuses. “They have helped to eradicate the symptoms of my dermatitis.”

He experienced an improvement in comfort, sweat control, grip, durability and overall performance. The gloves improved his skin condition so much that he also wears them out of work for driving, DIY at home, or just about anything.

“I keep them on virtually all day and only take them off when I go to bed,” he says. “They are really good gloves.”

“I saw an improvement almost instantly,” says Barry. “Straight away I noticed they were more flexible and more comfortable than previous gloves and I was able to work and use my measuring equipment without pain.”

The gloves gave extra protection against machine cuts and his grip was also enhanced compared to previous gloves, a very important factor when setting his machines. “They have definitely made a big difference.”

“I can’t praise them enough,” he continues. “I had been buying anti-cut and other gloves myself but the phynomic is the best. I would buy them myself for outside of work and use them for everything, including DIY. I really rate them. They have enabled me to do my job.”

World Hearing Day 2019 - “noise-induced hearing loss” occupational disease

World Hearing Day takes place on 3 March each year, when the World Health Organisation (WHO) draws attention to the significance of good hearing and the importance of prevention. In line with our mission of “protecting people”, we also help to protect people’s hearing – every single day of the year.

Our hearing’s job is to pass on external noises to our brain. If its functionality becomes impaired – by noise-induced hearing loss, for example – this can have unpleasant, and even severe, consequences in the following areas:

  • Information exchange
  • Warning/alert function
  • Emotional perception
  • Spatial orientation
  • Social function

Details on the potential problems this may cause can be found here:
How does our hearing work and how is the ear structured?

Hearing in the workplace - "noise-induced hearing loss" occupational disease

Hearing is also an important aspect of work safety and it must be protected from noise in the workplace. Although noise-induced hearing loss has been high on the list of recognised occupational diseases for many years, it usually occurs slowly and without pain.

Permanent noise in the workplace creates stress, although some employees may only be subconsciously aware of it. Stress situations represent an additional source of risk and can lead to a reduced ability to concentrate, which may negatively affect productivity.

The risk of hearing damage and the need to protect hearing is often only recognised when it is too late. Only those who suffer from hearing loss really understand just how essential a good sense of hearing is and that protecting and preserving it should be a top priority.

Highest protection category for hearing protection

The European Parliament has decided to attach greater priority to hearing protection in its Regulation on Personal Protective Equipment. The new PPE Regulation (EU) 2016/425 places hearing protection in the highest protection category, III.

The highest protection category, III, exclusively comprises risks that may lead to serious consequences such as death or irreversible damage to a person’s health. These risks include noise.

This new classification also has consequences for users. When supplying category III protective equipment, companies are obliged to provide their employees with practical training. 

This training may include, for example:

  • Types of hazards
  • Appropriate use of protective equipment
  • Correct handling of protective equipment
  • Information on recognising potential hazards

All uvex hearing protection products are covered by this risk category and protect against the risks of damaging noise.
We will be happy to provide you with support and advice to help you carry out this training with your employees – please feel free to get in touch.

uvex offers hearing protection for any situation and noise level

Noise causes damage slowly and without pain. For this reason, we develop hearing protection for any situation and noise level, where speech can still be understood and signals recognised. But how can you find out which type of hearing protection is right for you?

Hearing protection guide

The uvex hearing protection guide provides a clear overview of everything you need to know about hearing protection and will help you find the right uvex hearing protection products for you.


uvex Dezibel App für iPhone

With the uvex Dezibel app, you can find the right hearing protection for you, any time and anywhere. Simply measure the volume level and the app will recommend suitable earmuff or earplug hearing protection for the current situation.


Hearing protection consultants

In order to identify suitable hearing protection for your work environment, you can try out our uvex hearing wheel online. This will show you appropriate hearing protection based on the noise level in your workplace.


Adapted hearing protection (otoplastics)

Every ear canal is different, both in terms of size and shape, and as individual as a fingerprint. For those looking for maximum wearer comfort and the greatest possible acceptance by the wearers of hearing protection, the advantages offered by adapted hearing protection otoplastic will no doubt appeal to them.


Funtional testing of otoplastics

The German Social Accident Insurance Association (DGUV) sets out a functional test in its “Use of hearing protection otoplastics” prevention guideline. A leakage test is performed on the otoplastic in the ear to ensure the protective function of the otoplastic hearing protection (function check).

Its protective function is ensured when the following requirements are met:

  • Professional function check prior to first use
  • Function check repeated at intervals of no more than three years

The function check is carried out using a special set of headphones and a tone audiometry test. The measuring methods defined by the manufacturer and the respective limit values for otoplastics must be applied in this process.

uvex offers a number of ways to carry out a functional check in your company.

To arrange function checks for uvex high-fit otoplastics, please speak to your uvex contact directly.

You can contact our internal otoplastics consultancy team free of charge within Germany:

free of charge within Germany:
Phone: 0800  8839686
Fax: 0800  6644895
E-Mail: high-fit@uvex.de

For Austria:
Phone: +49 911 9736-1433
Fax: +49 911 9736-1679
E-Mail: high-fit@uvex.de

What is it like living with tinnitus?

Did you know 1 in 3 people get tinnitus at some point in their lives and around 1 in 10 UK adults have tinnitus that doesn’t go away. UVEX SAFETY (UK) LTD’s National Sales Manager Carl Dwyer suffers from tinnitus. It affects his day to day life, but he has found ways to help his condition. Here he explains what it is like living with tinnitus.

What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is the term for hearing sounds in one ear, both ears or in the head that are not from an external source. The types of sounds people hear vary greatly, with some people describing it as a ringing in the ears, others hear a hissing, buzzing or whooshing noise. These sounds can come and go, or they can exist all the time.

What causes tinnitus?

The exact cause of tinnitus is not yet known, but it can be linked to a number of things, including hearing loss. Damage to the tiny hair cells in the cochlea in the inner ear, either through normal ageing or from exposure to loud noises, can lead to hearing loss and tinnitus. One in three people get tinnitus at some point in their lives, while around one in ten UK adults have tinnitus that doesn’t go away.

What is it like living with tinnitus?

UVEX SAFETY (UK) LTD’s National Sales Manager Carl Dwyer suffers from tinnitus. It affects his day to day life, but he has found ways to help his condition and come to terms with it.

Here he explains what it is like living with tinnitus:

My Tinnitus is a constant buzzing sound. It never goes away and becomes much worse when I’m feeling stressed, tired, or in and around noisy environments.


This is how I changed my everyday life because of tinnitus:

To help combat this, I’m trying hard to work on the following points – but this is not always easy due to lifestyle or work constraints.

1. Adding background Noise as a distraction

Adding more noise may seem counterintuitive but being in a quiet environment means you’re likely to focus on your tinnitus sounds. Adding in some background noise like soft music or nature sounds helps to distract me from the buzzing.

2. Relaxing and more quiet moments

I’ve noticed that stress makes my tinnitus worse. Not that I’m the kind of person to meditate, but quiet moments do help; locked away in a dark room works. I also find that walking the dog or keeping my mind active can help alleviate the stress and tension caused by tinnitus.

3. Healthy Diet

Not the easiest I must say, but I’ve reduced both caffeine and alcohol as studies suggest that this can have a negative effect on your tinnitus.

4. Exercise to reduce stress and increase blood circulation

Finding the time to work out isn’t easy in my role- so finding that balance I know will help reduce stress as well as increase blood circulation. This I’m told is beneficial since some cases of tinnitus are associated with low blood supply to the inner ear.

5. Use of Hearing Protection

Loud environments are a contributing factor as to why I have this condition. These environments are not easy to avoid on a day to day basis. My levels of fatigue and tiredness have increased enormously since having the condition and it’s normal for me to be in bed very early due to the increased pressures this brings. The use of hearing protection (earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones) does help.

My best advice: Protect your hearing

Frequent, prolonged exposure to loud noise increases the risk of getting tinnitus.

The length of time you can safely be exposed to sound over 85 dB without needing hearing protection depends on the intensity of the sound. The energy the sound waves carries doubles with every increase of 3 dB, so even though a bulldozer doesn’t sound twice as loud as city traffic, it is twice as intense.

With each increase of 3 dB, the length of safe exposure time halves. For sounds above 100 dB (a nightclub for example) you’re at risk of hearing damage after just 15 minutes!

If you work somewhere where the noise levels exceed 80 dB, the law states hearing protection should be provided and staff must be trained and educated in the risks associated with noisy environments.

However, in social environments there are no rules and no protection is provided so it is up to the individual to protect themselves.

When we consider the noise levels of a rock concert, which can be as much as 110 dB, not wearing hearing protection means you are putting your hearing at great risk.

It is important to remember that hearing damage cannot be reversed. Protect your hearing by reducing the time you’re exposed to loud noise or by using earplugs or ear defenders.

Hearing protection from uvex - additional information

The tricky thing is that noise damages hearing gradually and painlessly. This is why we develop hearing protection for all situations and all noise levels, with speech and signal perception still possible. But how do you find out which is the right hearing protection for you?

Hearing protection guide

The uvex hearing protection guide summarises everything you need to know about the subject and helps you to find relevant uvex hearing protection products.


The toughest bike race in the world: uvex safety and uvex sports side by side

Desert Dash in Namibia is regarded as one of the toughest mountain bike races in the world. uvex took to the start line with its very own team.

There are very few bike races that are as extraordinary as this one: Over 1000 cyclists take part in this event every year, crossing one of the oldest deserts in the world. They cover over 370 kilometres in 24 gruelling hours as they make the journey from the starting point inland to the finish line on the Atlantic coast.

To put our company’s mission statement to the test, uvex South Africa decided to enter its own team, made up of Martin Godetz (Director International Sales at UVEX Sports Germany), Christo Nel, Kyle Wood and Tiego Kekana, as well as their back-up crew Darryl Jacobs (Managing Director of UVEX South Africa) and Penda Ickua (Cymot Brand Manager PPE).

The four colleagues from sports and safety are equipped with uvex products and demonstrate what uvex is all about: Protecting people — at work, when playing sport and in their leisure time.

373 kilometres in 24 hours

Desert Dash 2018 starts on an extremely hot summer’s afternoon in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia. Headwinds of up to 40 kilometres per hour and temperatures of over 30 degrees Celsius give the riders a taste of the challenge that lies ahead.

Over the next 24 hours, the race takes the participants out of the city and across the desert in Namibia to the Atlantic coast.

The route is divided into six stages: All riders complete the first stage and last stage together. In the four intermediate stages, only one rider from the team completes each stage.

As the race continues through the night, the riders try to sleep between the individual stages — whenever and wherever they can.

For many riders, the challenge proves too great. Over the course of the race, our team sees other riders reach their limits and give up. 186 participants quit before the end of the race.

The complete uvex team crosses the finish line in Swakopmund, an idyllic city by the Atlantic coast, after 23 arduous hours. All the participants are sure to remember this incredible, liberating moment for a long time to come.

"The most intense mountain bike event I have ever experienced"

Darryl Jacobs, Managing Director of UVEX Safety South Africa, supported our riders during the race, providing them with much-needed food and water at the various checkpoints.

He describes it as “the most intense mountain bike event I have ever experienced.

uvex is extremely proud of our team for successfully tackling the challenges of this race together. The determination demonstrated by the team and their personal development over the course of the event is fantastic. Martin Godetz’s experience and commitment played a huge part in the team’s success.

equipped by uvex safety und uvex sports

Our mixed team’s participation in Desert Dash proved once again how well sports and safety complement each other within the uvex group. After all, it is not just the participants that came from both areas — the equipment did, too.

uvex sports wowed riders with the uvex city light cycling helmet. The integrated LED lighting system was a real highlight on the course and helped keep our team safe during the night.

Our riders wore the uvex pheos cx2 spectacles from uvex safety to protect their eyes in the desert. They wore the spectacles with clear lenses at night and the model with grey lenses during the day.

Our riders would not have been able to complete this race without the incredible support of Cymot — uvex’s biggest partner in industrial sales in Africa. It was on Cymot’s initiative that uvex entered a team in the race in the first place. The support provided on the ground by CEO Axel Theissen, Penda Ickua (Cymot Brand Manager PPE) and Head of Sports Mario Katzur was simply fantastic — they drove the support vehicle, supplied food and water and provided any other support needed while helping to keep the team’s spirits up.

How do I find the right safety glove for me?

Safety gloves protect our hands against all kinds of hazards: from scratches and cuts to abrasion wounds, which can be caused by contact with rough metals, sharp glass or dangerous chemicals. The safety glove market is vast, with designs in virtually any length, colour and shape, and in a diverse range of materials with different types of coating. With so much choice on offer, how do you know which glove is right for you? Which glove is the best option for protecting you or your employees?

The quickest way to find the perfect safety glove for you is to use the uvex Glove Navigator – and answer the following three questions:

1. What kinds of hazards is the wearer exposed to?

To narrow down your options from the huge selection of gloves on the market, the first thing you need to do is work out which of the four hazard categories below applies in your workplace:

  • Do you need to ensure that the wearer is protected against mechanical injury, such as scratches or abrasion wounds? If so, “Mechanical protection” is the category you’re looking for.
  • There may also be a risk of cuts or even minor burns.
  • Or are your employees exposed to chemicals in the course of their work?

2. What is the primary activity in the workplace?

The first step in determining the hazard category is usually an easy one – but now you need to take a closer look at your application. For example, let’s assume that your employees are at risk of cuts and you therefore selected “Cut protection” at step 1: What kind of tasks are employees required to execute with their hands?

Does the work require precision and dexterity? If so, the category you need is obvious. Or do employees complete more heavy-duty tasks, such as handling panes of glass or heavy metal components with sharp edges? If so, opt for gloves from the “Heavy duty” category – your employees will need a very robust glove.

If the activity performed by your employees is neither precision or heavy-duty work, an All-round glove is probably your best option. These gloves can be used for general tasks and also when switching between different activities that require a strong safety glove.

We recommend that you select the category that best matches the activity that the employees perform for the majority of their working day.


uvex cut-resistant safety gloves for a range of applications: uvex phynomic C5, uvex C500 foam, uvex synexo impact 1 (from left to right)


3. What are the conditions in the workplace?

You’re nearly ready to select the right glove for your application. There’s just one question left to answer: What are conditions like in the workplace? Will the glove come into contact with wet or oily workpieces? If your employees handle small, sharp and oily components, they will need a different cut protection glove to people working in a completely dry environment.

The difference between these gloves lies in the coating, which will determine whether the glove is water-tight, water-resistant or breathable.

All uvex safety gloves are categorised according to which types of environment they are suitable for: either “dry”, “damp to slightly oily” or “wet to oily”. The level indicated above each symbol tells you how suitable the glove is for each type of environment.

Schutzhandschuhe für unterschiedliche Umgebungsbedingungen

All the data you need at a glance

Our application matrix for each type of hazard provides a simple, at-a-glance overview of our wide range of safety gloves. The matrix can be found at the end of this article

If you have any questions or need any further assistance selecting the right safety glove for you, please do not hesitate to contact our specialist team. They will happily visit you to advise on the right type of glove for your application: Because every workplace is different, your glove needs to fit!

Safety gloves for any type of hazard

(Click on the matrix to enlarge)


After a nasty needlestick injury, ambulance technician Scot appreciates safety gloves more than ever

At uvex, we are all striving towards our common goal of protecting people, whether in their free time or at work. Real people are behind every pair of safety spectacles, every pair of safety footwear and every pair of earplugs. These are people who have worked with commitment and passion day in, day out, to make uvex what it is today – and when they come across stories like Scot Grant’s, helping is not a question of “if” but “how”!

Scot Grant is a 35-year-old ambulance technician, working both in the private medical sector and now within the NHS. He is married with four children. Five years ago, Scot and the crew of his private ambulance had been transferring a critically-ill patient between hospitals and had loaded the patient onto the ambulance. Scot set off driving under emergency conditions with the vehicle’s blue lights flashing. During the journey, because the sun was low in the sky, Scot put his hand up to pull down the sun visor. As he did so, he felt a sharp prick in the side of one of his fingers, which began to bleed. “To start with I was not sure what had happened,” explains Scot, “but because we had an ill patient in the back, I sucked my finger and carried on driving for another 30 miles.” On arrival at the hospital, the patient was transferred and then Scot returned to the ambulance with his crew mate. “We were both disgusted to find that someone who had used the private ambulance before us had pushed a used intra-muscular injection needle into the sun visor rather than dispose of it properly in a sharps bin.”

At the same hospital Scot immediately had his wound thoroughly cleaned and received blood tests to see if he had picked anything up from the needle – in case it had it been used on a HIV, hepatitis or other infectious patient. Scot’s initial anger was quickly followed by fear: “Mentally, it was like I wasn’t leading my own life. I was scared, worried for the future and the stress of not knowing ether way took its toll on family life.” His wife and his four kids would describe him as being like Jekyll and Hyde. Rendered speechless, Scot would isolate himself in his workshop fighting with tears. He also developed severe trust issues towards his colleagues. “Because of someone’s stupidity, I was living a time of hell.”

Light at the end of the tunnel

After what must have felt like an endless six months – with regular blood tests and having to take antibiotics with extremely unpleasant side effects – Scot was finally cleared … lifting the heavy burden on his shoulders. He has since changed employer moving from the private medical sector to the NHS and is back to loving his job.

These days the NHS crew’s vehicles are made ready and prepared for needlestick injuries , which Scot hopes should limit the risk of anything like this ever occurring again. However, he still makes a thorough visual check of each ambulance before leaving the station. But dangers lie elsewhere, too. In Scot’s volunteer work with the Search Dogs Sussex, they primarily work in woodland where they sometimes come across evidence of drug use – and the immediate risk of another needlestick injury.

Happy to help

Early in 2018, Scot approached uvex in the UK to see if they would be willing to support the search team with some PPE to keep them safe when out and about. “Up until this point, each individual member funded their own equipment, travel and expenses.” Since then, uvex has donated to the team some uvex quatro pro safety boots and more recently the uvex 2 safety shoes. Each member now also wears safety glasses including the uvex i-works, pheos, pheos CX2, sportstyle and super OTG.

For Scot personally, the most important pieces of equipment are his new HexArmor PointGuard® Ultra 4041 gloves that uvex has  given to him to try out: “I think they are great,” he enthuses. “They are comfortable and provide me with an increased feeling of being safe whilst working and searching.” He always keeps a pair in the top of his work bag when out in an ambulance and in the pocket of his vest when on a search and rescue mission. After such a terrible ordeal, HexArmor has provided Scot with peace of mind at last.

Case study: visibility means safety – DB Schenker tests active hi-vis protection from uvex

When it comes to protective clothing, adverse weather conditions are always a challenge. In many cases, however, it’s not only a question of keeping wearers warm and dry, they must also be visible at all times, especially in difficult lighting conditions. The uvex protection flash hi-vis collection is primarily designed for construction environments and road traffic logistics and relies on bright reflective stripes, highly fluorescent outer material and a self-luminous feature. As part of a pilot project, logistics service provider DB Schenker put this collection through its paces.

DB Schenker safety officer Stehn was all ears as soon as he heard about our uvex protection flash wear test. His work life is full of situations in which visibility plays an important role – and where the lighting conditions are so poor that passive safety vests are simply not enough. In a trial run, our self-illuminating 2LL vest (2LL = two optical fibres) was used to make his colleagues at DB Schenker that bit safer when setting up outdoor exhibition stands at NürnbergMesse (Nuremberg Exhibition Centre). Several forklifts and trucks were also being operated alongside the assembly and disassembly teams. The many poorly illuminated areas and completely unlit areas represented a huge safety risk, especially during twilight hours.

uvex protection flash

What is the technology behind uvex protection flash?

The active lighting of our vests and jackets is down to an innovative LED light guide system, which we developed with OSRAM®. With the optional high-performance lithium polymer battery as an energy source, the system has sufficient power to operate the luminaires for an 8-hour day. All electronic parts are encapsulated as far as possible to prevent any loss of performance or ingress of water. If, under extreme conditions, water does get into the connection between the battery and the lighting system, the wearer is never in danger thanks to the low 5-volt voltage.

The light output via the light guides is distributed over a large area in such a way that neither wearers nor those around them are disturbed by any glare or dots of light. As part of the thorough washing test, we also proved that the complete system (all protective clothing including lighting system but excluding battery) can withstand at least 20 household washes at 60 degrees Celsius without any loss of function.

Result of the wear test

“My colleagues were called ‘easy riders’ by other companies during the assembly and disassembly of the trade fair structures”, Stehn tells us with a smile following completion of the wear test. Joking aside, the wearers of the 2LL vests were enthusiastic about the increased feeling of safety. Even if one test isn’t enough to reliably quantify an improvement in occupational safety, the safety officer is nevertheless very satisfied with the result and is already planning the next stage of the wear test. The 4LL vest and the softshell jacket from our collection are already on their way to DB Schenker…

Homestory #11: An obstacle course with the uvex pheos cx2 sonic

They’re adventurers, DIY enthusiasts, master builders and everyday heroes. They love a challenge and put their heart and soul into everything they do. Away from the big building sites and high-risk jobs, they’re exposed to dangers that shouldn’t be underestimated. Yet they still remain relaxed and focused, achieving good results, thanks to outstanding equipment. They trust the protection provided by uvex safety products. Our home stories feature people reporting on their very own areas of application and favourite products.

When someone has done judo for 17 years, running will be far too one-sided as a replacement sport in the long term. That’s what it was like for the head of our SBU Eyewear, Dr Marco Wacker. Even increasing his distances from 10 to 21 and ultimately 42 kilometres was not enough to satisfy his hunger for “more”. Then he discovered RUNTERRA. Marco still clearly remembers his first training session for one of the most challenging obstacle courses in Germany. After three hours, it ended with a swim in the Main-Danube Canal, at an outside temperature of three degrees Celsius. In that moment in winter three years ago, Marco found a new love – and since then, obstacle courses have been marked in red in his diary!

Extreme obstacle courses? Why put yourself through something like that?

Even if his colleagues sometimes can’t understand it, Marco really comes alive tramping and swimming through the river Bibert, plunging into mud pits or crawling under a barbed wire trellis. He enjoys climbing sand hills and piles of tyres just as much as dragging around extra weights and running about in soaking wet clothes. One lap on the large RUNTERRA adult playground is eight kilometres long – and because it’s so enjoyable, Marco generally does the course twice in a row.

Despite all the fun however, he feels it’s important not to overlook safety. “What makes these kinds of events challenging and exciting on the one hand – overcoming your weaker self by plunging into deep mud pits and then, filthy, exhausted, possibly freezing as well, immediately having to sprint again or balance at a dizzying height – also harbours risks on the other hand.” To overcome a total of 100 obstacles without injury, Marco and his team mates all wear uvex phynomic C5 cut protection gloves, because they are “comfortable to wear and have a super grip with no restrictions,” which is particularly useful when it comes to obstacles that involve climbing or crawling.

Product testing under extreme conditions

Last year Marco decided to be practical and used the course to test out the uvex pheos cx2 sonic mini wide-vision goggles, which were still in development at the time. After 160 minutes, 16 kilometres and 100 obstacles at 30 degrees Celsius, he delivered his verdict. “What can I say? No slipping and no fogging thanks to the unique lens coating, and the air vents allow water to drain away after you’ve been diving in the river Bibert!”

For uvex brand ambassador Marco and his family and friends, uvex is more or less a constant presence in their free time – whether they’re gardening, skiing or cycling. Furthermore, his adventurous obstacle courses are perfect for testing the suitability of uvex products under more extreme conditions. He already has a plan for the next RUNTERRA: “I’m going to test the uvex pheos cx2 sonic with our new CBR65 filter. I’m looking forward to it already!”

We would like to sincerely thank Dr Marco Wacker for his contribution and wish him every success with the next obstacle course!

uvex is pleased that its occupational safety products are being used in the personal domain. Naturally, it is not possible for us to ensure that the right product is used for the right activity here. uvex therefore assumes no liability for the appropriateness or correct use of the products or for ensuring that they are up-to-date, and shall not be held liable if third-party products are used.

So you’ve finished your training – what next? Life after training at uvex.

The German Chamber of Industry and Commerce reports that in 2017 a total of 268,918 trainee final exams were passed – but not many newly qualified trainees actually have a plan for their post-training career. At uvex, however, most of our trainees have a very clear idea of where they are going from very early on – thanks to excellent prospects of permanent employment and high-quality training, all our trainees have already found a department to take them on.

We spoke with three former uvex trainees and one soon-to-be former trainee about their traineeship experience and, in particular, about how they found/are finding the transition to permanent employment.

“During my traineeship at uvex, I was able to get to know 15 different departments and to get involved in the work there, too”, explains newly qualified industrial management assistant, Felix Stiegler. He decided to stay in Business Excellence, the uvex safety department that develops and implements new business processes. “uvex offers its trainees a good insight into the company’s many different departments”, says the latest addition to our Corporate Information Management team, Sven Hobauer. He is an IT specialist in system integration, and like all our trainees, he was also helped by the variety of opportunities on offer to decide relatively early on the direction his career would take.

Industrial management assistant Felix Stiegler

From traineeship to permanent employment

Such considerations and decisions were, of course, accompanied by a deliberate decision on the part of all four to want to stay at uvex in the long-term. “A very big advantage at uvex is that even though there’s no guarantee of permanent employment, it’s very likely that you will be taken on,” says our newest dialogue marketing assistant, Philipp Merkle. Like all his fellow trainees, he enjoyed a very intensive training programme – complete with trainee projects, in-house English language lessons, product and system training as well as the chance to take on responsibility at an early stage. And of course, at uvex we want to benefit from this investment in our trainees’ learning – which is why it’s very important to lay the foundations for a long-term relationship with our talented young trainees at an early stage.

Expert for dialog marketing Philipp Merkle

Progressing up the career ladder

Being taken on as a permanent employee at the end of the traineeship is naturally just the first step on the career ladder. And anyone who sees as much of a company as our trainees do, also sees where the journey could take them: Felix wants to continue training in business administration, with the option of later obtaining a bachelor’s degree. After induction training in his department, Sven wants to become certified through further training. And Philipp has a clear goal in mind – becoming a business administrator for the Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

“I’ve really enjoyed my traineeship at uvex”, says trainee Saskia Wild, who will soon complete her traineeship and begin work as a product manager in the Eyewear business unit. “I felt very much at home here and always received support from my trainers when I needed it. I also think what uvex offers its employees is really great. I can certainly recommend uvex as a company that takes on trainees”. Alongside the varied training programme and the fringe benefits, for her, the family atmosphere is one of the main reasons to apply for a traineeship at uvex.

Produkt manager Eyewear Saskia Wild