uvex pheos faceguard: An ergonomic design that noticeably reduces strain

Did you know that your neck has to support a weight of four to five kilos, even when your head is in a normal position? The more you tilt your head, the greater the strain on your neck. Performing manual tasks puts particular strain on the upper spine, so the main focus of the development stage for our uvex pheos face protection system was relieving such strain on the upper spine and neck.      

The human neck consists of seven vertebrae and is responsible for performing several vital tasks, for example supporting the head and providing a huge amount of mobility. It is also helps to supply the brain with blood and protects the spinal cord — an important component of our central nervous system. Poor posture for extended periods of time or excessive strains on the neck can cause tension and pain, and can even result in a slipped disc.

Perfectly adapted to the human anatomy

When developing the uvex pheos face protection system, we had one overriding aim: maximum protection with minimum strain. Firstly, by connecting the protective visor to an ergonomic head strap, we eliminated the need for the heavy helmet that usually serves as a visor mount. We also perfectly adapted the uvex pheos faceguard to the human anatomy. The face protection system has been designed to evenly distribute the weight across the body’s centre of gravity. The low weight and ergonomic centre of gravity supports a natural head posture, minimising strain on the neck and back.

Maximum mobility — no restrictions

The large visor offers a wide field of vision, which promotes keeping the neck in a natural posture. The ergonomic design ensures maximum mobility in any situation, while the wide neck piece guarantees a secure and comfortable fit on the wearer’s head. Individual height adjustment means the system can be adjusted to perfectly fit the wearer.

Compared with other face protection systems, the uvex pheos faceguard is lighter, better ventilated and more comfortable to wear. The visor even fits comfortably over spectacles.

Ergonomic protective equipment for increased safety

The uvex pheos faceguard perfectly demonstrates just what is expected of modern occupational safety equipment: reliable protection without restricting or putting strain on the wearer. Ultimately, it should be as simple—and comfortable—as slipping on a shirt or work jacket in the morning. This is an essential factor in ensuring not only that personal protective equipment is worn, but also that it reliably protects the wearer during everyday tasks.


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.


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.

TO HEARING PROTECTION GUIDE (PDF)

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.

DOWNLOAD FREE ON ITUNES NOW!

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.

ZUM GEHÖRSCHUTZRAD

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.

ADAPTED HEARING PROTECTION OTOPLASTIC

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.

TO HEARING PROTECTION GUIDE (PDF)


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.

Schnittschutzhandschuhe

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)

 


“Colourful PPE” (part 3 of 3): How useful is PPE in company colours – and is that even possible?

A company’s corporate identity (CI) is a bit like its business card. Ideally, the writing, logo and especially colour will be the same across all media. In many fields of work and sectors, it’s completely normal that work clothing gives a uniform image – this creates recognition value and strengthens team spirit.

In this, the last of three blog articles on the topic of ‘colour’, we ask what influence corporate identity has – and can have – on the selection of colours for personal protective equipment. Don’t forget to read part 1 and part 2 of our colour series!

Corporate colours for company identity

As you’ve already learnt in the previous blog entries in our “Colourful PPE” series, colours influence us in many different ways – even our spending behaviour, for example: a study has shown that the use of colour can increase the recognition value of a brand by up to 80 per cent. For this reason, for many companies it’s important to present themselves with a uniform appearance in the appropriate colours. In addition to logo, website and company cars, this often also involves work clothing. For employees on construction sites, in industry and in many other areas, their affiliation with the company should be instantly visible.

We have corporate fashion at uvex, too – we mainly use the colours orange, blue, turquoise and grey – and of course we offer this for our customers, too: if this is something you’re interested in, contact our colleagues directly at corporatefashion@uvex.de. Even if you ‘only’ want an embroidered logo or emblem, we’ll be happy to help you.

Clothing in company colours – as demonstrated here by our colleagues at uvex Australia – ensures a uniform overall appearance, a strong feeling of togetherness and high recognition value.

Textiles in company colours are only one aspect, however – we will also personalise safety spectacles for you, for example. In our online configurator you can easily try this out without obligation.

Fashionable aspects of colorful protective equipment

Where previously the focus was only on protection, today it’s increasingly important to employees that their PPE offers reliable protection and looks good. In times in which no real value was placed on the appearance of safety shoes, for example, they were most often simply black or grey – and the shoe itself looked more practical than attractive. In the last few years, however, there has been a rethink. The desire for more colour and sportier designs is rapidly growing. Safety shoes should at least have a few touches of colour, even if they’re not available in all the latest colour trends. A glance at our uvex 1 range, the uvex sportsline or the uvex 1 sport shows that we have been paying more and more attention to these customer requirements (as well as to the increased calls for sportier safety shoes) for some time now.

Our textiles are also increasingly falling ‘victim’ to the colour trend: From touches of colour to fashion colours such as petrol blue or orange, our range has developed considerably in recent years. Particularly strong and bright colours are also used for uvex safety gloves – and are very popular, especially with customers bored by traditional PPE colours.

The uvex sportsline brings colour and sportiness to the workplace.

Practical aspects of colourful protective equipment

The uvex phynomic XG has been specially developed for oily environments.

As you can see, many colours are simply a fashionable consideration in PPE – but in some cases, there are practical aspects, too. For example, colours may be specially selected at the product development stage, depending on where it will be used. In particularly oily environments such as assembly for example, dark colours are more suitable. Safety spectacles and gloves that are used here are often black or grey. Other places where PPE is used are very clean and hygienic, making very bright colours somewhat unsuitable. The uvex clean range offers safety spectacles especially for this in light blue and white.

Is that all?

As you’ve seen in this post – but also in part 1 and part 2 of our series – there are many fashionable and even some practical relevance to colours in the PPE field. The influence that colours have on our work and our decisions is also an essential part of our everyday life. Remember this the next time you buy something (not just PPE) and think about the effect of the colours that accompany you throughout your day-to-day life.


Twisting, stumbling, slipping: What happens? Why? And what can be done to prevent it?

According to the accident statistics of the German Social Accident Insurance Association (DGUV) from 2016, many accidents are caused by trips and slips when walking. These are the so-called SSF accidents (stumbles, slips and falls). The analysis shows that the proportion of female accident victims has significantly increased and also that there has been a sharp growth in new accident annuities. The fact that more and more people are suffering irreversible impairment to their ability to work is a powerful demonstration of the importance of this topic. It’s reason enough for us to explain in detail the basics of stumbling, twisting and slipping – and to explain the role that safety shoes play and what kind of other influencing factors may also be present.

In 2008, the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) published a detailed paper on their research project “Determination of factors influencing stumbling and twisting”. The project involved analysing stumbling and twisting and highlighting the influencing factors that encouraged these – and where preventive action could be taken. The DGUV also provides a scientific analysis of slip hazards. These research projects indicate the bases of movement that exist and the influences that may eventually lead to SSF accidents.

Twisting, stumbling, slipping - underlying mechanism:

“Human gait is one of the most unsteady locomotion processes to exist among living beings in nature.”

(Fischer, H. et al.: Vermeiden von Unfällen durch Stolpern, Umknicken, Fehltreten. [Avoiding accidents caused by stumbling, twisting and missstepping.] Report F 1641, Dortmund 2008).

One step comprises multiple individual movements by different parts of the body. The lower body parts are connected to each other via three pivot points – the ankle, knee and hip joint, as well as with the torso and the upper extremities for stabilising balancing movements.

The gait itself can be broken down into two phases: Firstly, the stance phase, during which the foot is on the ground and secondly, the swing phase, during which the leg performs a pendulum-like swinging movement. Every time contact is made with the ground, the ground reaction force acts accordingly on the body. We have the most stable position at the moment when the line of action of this force runs exactly through the centre of the axis of rotation of our joints. As soon as the line of action leaves the centre of rotation, torque is generated that pushes the joint into a certain position – thereby provoking a counter-reaction of the muscles to keep the joint stable.

The gait itself becomes an automated and unconscious movement for everyone in the course of their life. The disadvantage of this is that in the event of unforeseen external influences, a fast counter-reaction to compensate for faulty movements is often not possible or does not happen fast enough. Disturbances can therefore quite simply influence the gait system in such a way that we twist, stumble or slip.

Disturbances

There are multiple disturbances in a typical working environment: Both the condition of the workplace and inappropriate footwear can influence this. Unevenness, edges, stones, different floors and damping mats, for example, may lead directly to twisting, stumbling and slipping. But factors such as brightness and lighting, your own perception, fatigue, overload, distraction or time pressure also play a decisive role. Preventive measures should therefore involve both the working environment and the choice of an optimal safety shoe.

Twisting

There are two types of twisting: On the one hand, unevenness, edges or objects lying around can cause twisting. If such an obstacle is encountered, the line of action of the ground reaction force may lead past the pivot point of the joint on the inside – and we then twist (see images).

 

However, the shoe construction can also encourage twisting – especially if the sole geometry is inadequate or there is a lack of support in the heel area. At the beginning of the stance phase, when almost the entire body weight is carried by one leg, twisting is very likely. This may result in injuries to the tendon and ligamentous apparatus.

The most important stabilising elements are the body’s own muscles, tendons and ligaments. Ideally, these will be strong enough to protect the ankle from serious injuries. However, sufficient strength can only be applied by muscles (active), tendons and ligaments (passive) if they are sufficiently trained and used.

Nevertheless, footwear also plays an important supporting role – even if the relevant standard does not contain any specific requirements for protection against twisting. The BAuA report mentions the leg length of footwear as a crucial factor. In boots, the leg ends above the ankle joint and may therefore have a stabilising effect on the joint. However, it’s crucial that the boots are used correctly – if the boot is not laced up properly, the effect of the high leg is lost. Additional, attached rigid elements (cuffs) are often used to prevent twisting. The BAuA’s investigations establish however that it is not yet clear whether injuries can be reduced in this way.

We therefore recommend supporting the foot through an optimally designed fit, cushioning and flexibility of the safety shoes. In our opinion, these factors are crucial for stabilisation, without overly limiting the scope of movement or the natural movement. Low shoes may therefore also ensure sufficient safety.

Stumbling

Of course, influencing factors in the surroundings usually play a decisive role in stumbling, too – elevations, grooves, crevices, floor coverings, cables and many other large and small obstacles, for example. It’s less obvious that footwear can also make a big difference: To ensure a safe, controlled gait, optimum fit is essential. The design of the sole and last also contribute to minimising the risk of stumbling. In addition, a sole that offers maximum cushioning and flexibility supports the natural movement pattern, which in turn supports a safe gait. Adding a ‘toe spring’ to the last at the end also reduces the risk of stumbling. Here, the distance between the toe cap and the ground is crucial. With a higher toe spring, the tip points upwards and thus minimises the risk of getting caught on anything. Another influencing factor is the friction between shoe and ground – if this is too high, it can also cause stumbling.

Slipping

Slipping occurs when balance cannot be maintained while walking because the foot cannot grip the ground. First, a short explanation of the biomechanics of walking: The first contact with the ground when walking is made by the heel, at which point the body’s centre of gravity is still significantly behind the heel (see diagram). In normal cases, there is then a rolling movement through the heel, metatarsus and forefoot. This ends with the pressing down of the foot, followed by the swing phase, during which the other leg is in the stance phase.

Slipping usually starts at the exact point at which the body’s centre of gravity is not vertical above the ground contact point, for example at the beginning of the stance phase. To reduce the risk of slipping, there are already various rules and guidelines (legal duty to maintain safety, the German workplace ordinance, technical regulations and so on), which require floors and shoes to have a minimum slip resistance. Naturally, on the basis of this, there are also corresponding test procedures for floors, and indeed for safety shoes. Safety shoe tests assign the designations SRA, SRB and SRC to the shoe.

The main causes of slipping are slippery floors and smooth soles, and also additional lubricants on the floor. But of course there are also further influencing factors that make slipping more likely: Similarly to stumbling and twisting, the individual’s perception of the environment also plays a major role, as does the visibility or identification of special risk areas.

Anti-slip soles

For safety shoes, preventing slipping involves the ‘anti-slip properties of the sole’. Above all, the anti-slip properties are supposed to ensure safe walking. For better measurability and comparability, the anti-slip properties are defined by the so-called coefficient of friction: this comes from the friction between the floor and the shoe. For their part, the anti-slip properties can be influenced by many different factors, for example by materials with different characteristics, surface structures, the speed of movement and other environmental parameters. Various test methods exist for measuring the anti-slip properties and determining the coefficient of friction of the different materials. These focus on the one hand on the slip properties of the floor but also on the properties of the shoe sole.

Tests for anti-slip properties

The tests for measuring the slip properties of various floors are used to assign floors to specific categories. In these tests, the floor is the medium to be tested, while shoe characteristics play no role (or are standardised for the test).

The slip properties of safety shoes are determined with the help of a shoe testing machine. This calculates the coefficient of friction of the shoes, by sliding the test shoe at a defined speed and contact pressure over a reference floor.

The shoes are tested on two different floor coverings with an intermediate medium and with two different angles of attack for the shoe (see table).

The standard prescribes the minimum requirements for this test procedure that must be achieved in order to receive the relevant designation.

Tests that deal with slip prevention for both floors and shoes are therefore sufficient. But what conclusions can be drawn from these results for real-life conditions?

Significance of standard designations

Standard test procedures are all about comparability. For this kind of test, a standardised test set-up is developed, which probably never occurs in a real working environment in that way. Accordingly, the informative value of the results is initially limited to these standard specifications only. Nevertheless, the results can be used for an initial assessment of suitability for the various areas of application. However, if working environments exist in which special, slippery floor coverings and/or lubricants are present, an individual field test with the desired shoe should confirm suitability.

The role of the shoes

As we’ve already learnt, accidents are frequently caused by twisting, stumbling and slipping – and often lead to serious injuries and thus absences from work. Accordingly, legislators and professional associations try to set appropriate guidelines for the working environment and also for the personal protective equipment used there. In addition to meeting these requirements, our aim is to best support you, the safety shoe wearer, at work and to take the stress out of your job – or at least to make sure that your PPE doesn’t cause you any extra stress.

When it comes to the sole of the shoe, the EU standards include specifications according to which a shoe sole must be designed to ensure optimum anti-slip properties. Depending on the material used, the outsole will have slightly different properties. On the other hand, there are no special requirements for protection against stumbling or twisting. Our goal is always to develop the shoe with an optimum fit, so that it provides its wearer with the best possible support during natural movement patterns – without losing sight of the protective characteristics of the safety shoe.

More than anything, a good fit requires stability in the heel area, to keep the foot in position. But cushioning and the flexibility of the shoe are also essential, because they enable the optimum distribution of pressure and support the body’s natural rolling motion. And especially during this rolling motion, any penetration-resistant midsoles also play an important role. Here, the advantage of the textile penetration-resistant midsole is that the flexibility of the shoe is less affected, while a midsole made of steel will make the shoe noticeably stiffer. However, in certain sectors – for example the construction industry – steel soles should be preferred because they offer better protection against nails and the like.

Optimum protection through individual adjustment

The better the fit of your footwear, the better you can prevent SSF accidents – and most successfully of course with an individually adapted shoe: In addition to the lacing system, it’s also a matter of adapting the amount of available space in the shoe. If a wearer needs more space in the forefoot area, this can be achieved using a multiple-width system with different insoles. This also applies if the wearer has too much room in the shoe – they can adapt their shoe using an appropriate insole, too. (The multiple-width system is relevant for certification and may therefore only be used for the models advertised for this purpose.)

Summary: Best possible prevention of SSF accidents

Influencing factors for SSF accidents can therefore be found both in the working environment and sometimes in the shoe design. Professional associations’ guidelines are aimed at minimising the risk of accidents in the workplace. As a manufacturer, we develop shoes with the same aim. They should provide their wearer with the best possible support, without overly influencing their natural movement pattern. The leg design in the ankle area may also help – the main focus should however be on the ideal fit (especially in the heel area), optimum cushioning and best possible flexibility. You’re sure to find what you’re looking for in our wide range of shoes.


“Colourful PPE” (part 2 of 3): Do the (usually blue) dungarees always have to be blue?

Dungarees. Boiler suits. Everyone knows them, many wear them and many have surely asked themselves at least once: how did the blue boiler suit actually come to be? And are there perhaps other dominant colours in other types of PPE, too? Without giving too much away: from ‘evolved historically’ to ‘legally prescribed’ to ‘psychologically valuable’, there’s a lot more to the colour of personal protective equipment than meets the eye.

In this, the second of three blog entries on the topic of ‘colour’, we focus on the question of why particular parts of our personal protective equipment (but also our everyday clothes) have particular colours. The last article in the series will focus mainly on company colours and aspects of fashion. Watch this space!

How did the blue boiler suit actually come to be?

The success story of the ‘boiler suit’ begins in the Middle Ages. At that time, there were strict clothing decrees for the various sections of society. Many strong, striking colours – such as red, golden yellow, orange and even green – were reserved for the nobility. These colours had to be mixed specially and were therefore more expensive. In this way, the nobility could make their wealth clear for anyone to see. The only colours not reserved for the nobility were black and blue. Because usually only priests wore black, blue became the everyday colour for townsfolk, farmers and especially labourers. As the practical work overalls for the predominantly male labourer came into fashion, there wasn’t really a question about the colour any more – and so the boiler suit was born. Today, only the German name has remained, because the boiler suit is now available in many different colours…including blue, of course.

In the past, boiler suits were complete overalls, today the term (‘Blaumann’ in German) is usually used to refer to blue dungarees.

legal colour regulations

For personal protective equipment, lots of different colours are used. Signal colours have special meanings in some areas, of course. Many are probably familiar with the idea of having a hi-vis vest in the car – but a hi-vis vest isn’t just a hi-vis vest. Since 2013, there has been a new international standard DIN EN ISO 20471:2013-09 that precisely defines the performance requirements for colours and reflectors. In addition, this standard regulates precisely the minimum area and design that reflectors must have, in order to create a quality standard for hi-vis vests and thus guarantee safety. Incidentally, the obligation to wear or carry hi-vis vests in the car differs from country to country. Failure to comply with this obligation may result in high fines. Ideally, you should find out which regulations apply where before your next trip – for example at DEKRA.

There are also hi-vis vests with active light strips (art.: 17255).

In food processing, too, there are strict legal provisions regarding PPE. Particularly important here is the colour scheme of the gloves and hearing protection used. These must be blue, because blue is the only colour that doesn’t occur naturally in food. This ensures that it’s easy to recognise if a part of the protective equipment has accidentally landed in the food as a foreign body.

Blue hearing protection shouldn’t be overlooked.

How colours affect us

Do you sometimes feel influenced in your thinking by certain colours? No? You may be mistaken… Did you know, for example, that time passes subjectively faster in green light? Or that women in red clothes are perceived as more attractive by men? Colours can also help us learn, because colourful content stands out a lot more than boring blocks of black text. Colours can also manipulate us. They can evoke feelings, create moods or change our emotional state – and even influence our decisions.

 

Most people are probably familiar with the differentiation between ‘warm’ and ‘cool’ colours from art class, but this also plays a role in the selection of our clothing. It makes a difference whether we wear a t-shirt in blue or in orange. Cool colours tend to generate a feeling of coolness, but also of distance. Warm colours on the other hand appear bright and friendly, and thus to a certain extent also attractive. The reason why cool colours are often used in personal protective equipment is more pragmatic than psychological, however: They are more inconspicuous and less susceptible to dirt.

 

Let the difference between the warm and the cool colours have an effect on you.

White lab coats radiate competence.

Clothes make the man!

There’s more to this statement than you might think. According to a new study, for example, wearing a white gown or coat is supposed to increase our intellectual abilities and improve our concentration. In addition, well-dressed teachers, therapists or business partners seem more competent than someone who is dressed too casually. In many areas, therefore, unobtrusive protective equipment is also required – for example cabin crew, who gladly reach for skin-coloured hearing protection, or team leaders who go from meetings to production facilities wearing fashionable ‘business’ safety shoes.

 

What we wear influences not only our counterparts, but ourselves, too. It’s not for nothing that in many call centres or telephone areas that employees wear suits – because formally dressed people think more holistically and abstractly, and are therefore generally usually more professional. In addition, according to psychologist Abraham Rutchick and his colleagues at California State University suit wearers in business negotiations are more dominant and successful than people in everyday clothes.

Is that all?

Perhaps in future you’ll think even more about the colours and clothes you choose, because, as we’ve just learnt, this can have a big influence on yourself and on others. Don’t forget to read the first post in our series to find out what functions colours fulfil in the field of industrial health and safety … and, believe it or not, we have plenty more to say on the subject of PPE and its colours – so much in fact that there’ll soon be another blog post on this topic. Check back here soon so you won’t miss it!


"Colourful PPE" (part 1 of 3): What is the significance of colours in PPE – how do they help make working life easier?

Blue, green, yellow, red, white and orange. These are just a few of the colours in which personal protection equipment (PPE) is available. But have you ever asked yourself if this is purely a question of design, or whether there is more to it? Colours are not just decoration! They affect our daily lives far more than we might think.

In this, the first of three blogs devoted to the subject of “colours”, we deal primarily with the issue of the roles played by colours in PPE. In our forthcoming blogs we also examine the legal provisions and the psychological and fashion aspects of colour. We’re sure you must be very excited!

Avoiding errors and foreign objects

The food processing industry gives us a very simple example of the relevance of colour in PPE: very often, hearing protection and safety gloves are worn in production processes, where there is a danger that the PPE itself could actually end up in the products as a foreign object. In order to avoid missing any contaminating elements, the PPE used in food processing is mostly coloured pale blue – since there are no naturally blue foodstuffs, so that alien elements can quickly be visually picked out and removed.

uvex whisper+ detec – detektierbarer Gehörschutz
uvex phynomic C5 Schnittschutz Lebensmittel Handschuhe

Signal colours with a signal effect

While blue has a signal function in the food processing industry, in other areas, “classic” signal colours are deployed: especially for roadworks or on building sites, where large vehicles and machinery are in operation, there is a considerable danger that workers could be not seen at dusk or when it is dark.  Here, bright, conspicuous protective clothing is particularly important and colours like red, yellow and orange are worn for better visibility.

People working on railway lines and tracks also need to be easily visible. Jackets, trousers and helmets in signal colours are often worn in addition to high visibility vests. Reflectors on jackets and helmets further assist machine operators, lorry and train drivers to detect site workers.

Simple identification of function and purpose

The array of available multi-coloured products on offer for various levels of protection for different employees and workplaces can easily confuse PPE buyers. Some PPE manufacturers are trying to simplify procurement and application by means of colour coding. uvex is also applying its own colour systems for numerous products as an aid to customers and end-users. For example, our protective eyewear is organised according to area of application as well as performance: eyewear for “singular” areas of application – for instance, in the food processing industry or laboratories – is available in colours usually associated with the medical and health care sector, i.e. blue and white, while our heat-resistant goggles generally come in red or in a combination of red and another colour.

The same applies to our breathing apparatus – however, since respirator masks are not usually produced in particular colours, it is the colour of the printed text that is the deciding factor and this is colour-graded according to the level of protection afforded by the mask, ranging from blue, to orange and black. For hearing protection, we have used the traffic light system for uvex K family earmuffs, with green for low noise insulation, amber for medium and red for high.

In certain areas of application, the colours used tend to be inconspicuous – have you ever seen a flight attendant wearing bright green hearing protection? For these purposes, the uvex range includes special skin-coloured products that are generally more or less invisible.

Admittedly, all this colour coding is not necessarily self-explanatory, but once understood, it really does simplify and expedite the choice of the right PPE enormously.

Easy identification of function and qualification

The PPE colour does not always just highlight the function or purpose of the PPE concerned – in fact, sometimes it also says something about the wearer. Have you ever wondered why so many different coloured helmets are deployed on a building site? Although there are no universally valid regulations, on larger building sites, it is usual to identify the different qualifications, functions and trades of the wearers by the colours of their protective helmets.

In general, the colours identify the functions of the workforce, with yellow, blue, green and orange respectively signifying membership of a particular trade: bricklayers and depot workers usually wear yellow helmets, blue helmets protect the heads of plumbers and metal workers, while carpenters and electricians most often wear green helmets. Health and safety officers are identified by their orange helmets, although these can also be worn by lumberjacks and reinforced concrete construction workers.

Visitor or architects, in general people who will not spend hours and hours at a site, usually wear white helmets, with red helmets often worn by supervisors, foremen or electricians with a management function.

Shades of protective eyewear

There is another area of PPE where colour plays a role: in the case of protective eyewear, it is not only the colour of the frame, but often the actual lens that comes in a different tint. Is there any significance attached to these tintings? What colour would be suitable for my particular workplace? What is best for me? These are all questions which anyone buying occupational protective eyewear might have asked themselves.

With the huge range of available options, it is not easy to maintain a proper overview, let alone make the right decision. The primary purpose of lens tinting is to avoid glare, to increase contrast, to eliminate mirroring and reflections and, last but not least, to ensure relaxed and concentrated vision. To give you a better idea, we recommend visiting our online lens tinting advisor.  This will clarify the differences between individual tints as well as highlighting how clear lenses differ from tinted ones.

In any event, it is important to know that even protective eyewear without lens tinting will protect your eyes from UV radiation. All uvex eyewear with polycarbonate lenses affords a protection level of at least UV-400.

Is that all there is to it?

So you see: from a signalling function to information on levels of qualification, a colour can speak volumes in terms of protection in the work environment… and believe it or not, we have a great deal more to say on the subject of PPE and its colourways. In fact, so much so, that we have decided to issue two more blogs giving more detailed information on the subject. Make sure to check the blog again soon: you wouldn’t want to miss out on any exciting updates!


The hazards associated with blue light – and how safety spectacles can help

Smartphone displays, computer monitors, TV screens – artificial sources of blue light are ever-present, both in our everyday working lives and in our private lives. This fact brings a whole range of health risks with it – from tired eyes to retinal diseases – and is confronting us as a society with new challenges. Let’s take a look at the properties and potential hazards associated with blue light, to help us understand what potential eye protection solutions might look like.

Blue Light: Definition

Blue light in the electromagnetic spectrum

In the electromagnetic spectrum, blue light lies in the wavelength range between 380 and 500 nanometres. It therefore falls within the visible part of the spectrum, to which we are exposed every day.

Blue light can be found everywhere – in the natural light emitted by the sun, or in the artificial light emitted by LED lamps or screens (smartphones, tablets, computers, televisions).

The positive effects of blue light

Blue light regulates our biorhythm or biological clock. The body uses the natural blue light from the sun to distinguish between day and night and to regulate our sleep-wake cycle. The perception of blue light (approx. 490 nm) stimulates and controls the production of the sleep hormone melatonin.

Blue light is also thought to lift our mood and increase the feeling of well-being.

Blue light is hazardous to the eyes

The shorter the wavelength of light, the more energy it stores. Blue light waves fall within the short wave range of the visible spectrum and belongs to the most energy-rich ones. This explains why blue light (between approx. 380 and 450 nm) is more hazardous than other light. In addition to that the fact that blue (artificial) light emitted by screens has a richer spectrum of harmful blue light than sunlight, which contains more yellow and red.

A further factor raising concern among specialists is linked to a change in our lifestyle, which leads to us being exposed to excessive amounts of blue light. In addition to the natural blue light emitted by the sun, we are confronted with artificial blue light from screens and LED light sources on a daily basis. This phenomenon is further aggravated by the length of time for which we are exposed to this light. At work, 43% of adults use a computer or tablet, as well as a smartphone, for prolonged periods of time.

The risks associated with blue light

Eye fatigue

The energy emitted from blue light causes it to flicker more than other light. It also produces more glare, resulting in eye fatigue and headaches in the long term. Almost 70% of all adults who regularly use electronic devices with illuminated displays report certain symptoms of visual fatigue, such as impaired vision, dry and irritated eyes or headaches.

Sleep rythm disorders

Especially in the evening, artificial blue light disturbs our biorhythm by slowing down the secretion of melatonin. This explains the significant increase in the number of people complaining of sleep disturbances and suffering from insomnia.

Agre-related macular degeneration (AMD)

Contact with harmful blue light (between 380 and 450 nm) can lead to age-related macular degeneration. This means that, over time, retinal cells can become irreversibly damaged. In industrial countries, this is the most frequent cause of eye diseases resulting in blindness.

So what can you do?

Wearing safety spectacles that reduce harmful blue light is recommended at workplaces with screens as well as for people who work in environments with glaring artificial light sources (LED lighting), as can sometimes be the case in light industry or certain logistics platforms.

It’s not necessary to absorb the entire blue light spectrum though:

» Short wavelengths between 380 and 450 nm are particularly harmful to the retina.
» Cyan-blue light above 465 nm has positive effects on the organism.

Safety spectacles with the uvex CBR65 tint absorb around 50 % of blue light, with a maximum absorption of 450 nm, ensuring effective protection against harmful blue light without impairing the sleep cycle. They are ideal for use at workplaces with screens.

Conclusion

Blue light is everywhere, especially in sunlight. Excessive exposure to harmful blue light, however, is due to the increased use of LED lamps and screens. Whether at work or at home, we spend a large part of our days in front of a screen.

If you have any further questions regarding protection against blue light or the lens tints offered by the uvex group, please use the comment section of our blog or write to us directly using the following e-mail address: serviceteam@uvex.de