Sole Education Week 2 : Shattering Stigmas

Sole Education Week 2: Shattering Stigmas

At this point, it is safe to say that we are all becoming increasingly aware of the skilled trades shortage that is coming our way. Decades of misrepresentation in pop culture and in high schools, coupled with shop classes being cut from public schools have led us to the skilled labor shortage.

There’s a lot of opportunity for growth and job security within the trades; however, they can carry a variety of stigmas. It’s dirty work. There’s no money to be made. It doesn’t require an education. It’s a male-dominated field.  You name it, we’ve all heard it.

This week, we asked Mikayla to talk about stigmas that she and other students face within her field, and what she is doing to combat them. Every field has them, so let’s learn about what Mikayla has noticed over the course of her education thus far.

As a female in a traditionally male-dominated industry, Mikayla chose to speak to her experiences as a woman entering the trades. Read on to learn about her experience and what she is doing to shatter the stigma:

Stigma:

Sole Education Week 2: Shattering Stigmas
This is a photo I took with my co-workers from Volvo Trucks. We had just finished a science fair at an elementary school for our Women in Engineering club. We took the day to teach young girls about the fields of science and how they relate back to building trucks.

“As a woman entering the male-dominated field of engineering, I knew I would have to face many stigmas throughout my degree and my career. When I walked into my first engineering class, I noticed I was the only female.

Despite this, I made sure that the men around me treated me no different.
Somehow, I felt a sense of confidence against the stigma of being a woman in engineering; I felt that I had to prove myself more than my male peers. This pushed me to study hard, excel as a leader in group projects, and be more outgoing.

Solution:

Due to my determination and perseverance, I graduated with my Associates in Engineering Technology at the top of my class. My achievements in school lead to me being offered a mechanical engineering internship at Volvo Trucks North America.

When people see me, they do not believe me when I say I want to be an engineer. This makes me think about the phrase, “shattering the glass ceiling” and wonder if there is any validity to it today.

Personally, I believe that the glass ceiling has not been even cracked. With my degree and career, I hope to help drive the wrecking ball into that glass ceiling for good.

Follow along with our students’ progress here.
Learn more about the Generation T movement here.

APPLY FOR THE SOLE EDUCATION GRANT TODAY

Sole Education Week 1: Introduction

Sole Education - Meet the Student

We are thrilled to launch our first-ever Sole Education program! Over the next few months, we will be learning more about our student’s skilled trades program through their experiences and blog entries.

The Sole Education Grant is an industry-based education grant sponsored by Saf-Gard Safety Shoe Company. It is for students who are just starting out in the trades.

Over the next several weeks, we will be working with Mikayla, a rising Mechanical Engineering Technology student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

She will be covering topics related to her industry and hopefully inspire others to learn more about opportunities in the skilled trades as well.

Let’s learn more about her:

“Hey everyone, my name is Mikayla. I grew up in a small town outside of New Haven, CT but moved to Greensboro, NC, with my family in the summer of 2014.Saf-Gard Sole Education Mikayla

I recently received my Associates in Engineering Technology from GTCC, and I will be continuing my education this fall at UNC Charlotte where I plan to earn a Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology. With my degree, I plan on making a career for myself in Plastics Technology as a Project Engineer.

While at GTCC, I’ve fallen in love with the world of technology and engineering design. I’ve excelled in courses involving math and science and was praised for my leadership skills during group STEM (short for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) activities.

Outside of school, I am a Mechanical Engineering Intern for Volvo Trucks North America.  I consider myself hardworking, disciplined, and creative when it comes to my education and future career.”

We can’t wait to learn more about Mechanical Engineering this summer with Mikayla, and see what the summer holds!

Follow along with our students’ progress here.
Learn more about the Generation T movement here.

APPLY FOR THE SOLE EDUCATION GRANT TODAY

What are ASTM Standards?

What are ASTM Standards?

ASTM- American Society for Testing and Materials. In short, ASTM is one of the largest voluntary standards developing organizations in the world. Meaning they create Standards, which are documents that give manufacturers information about procedures and regulations in their specific industry. They provide guidance for individuals, companies and other institutions around the world.

Who uses ASTM Standards?

Many members of the scientific community have been using ASTM standards to guide them in their research and development in their laboratories and offices. Alongside them, architects, government agencies and many others have used ASTM standards to reference plans, regulations, laws and other useful information.

Saf-GardTM complies with all regulations set forth and with the help of ASTM and ANSI collaborate on the “American National Standard for Personal Protective Footwear” which sets clear specifications and performance requirements for all protective footwear.

Our Standards:

STEEL TOE

In 1995 OSHA began enforcing a new standard for personal protective equipment (PPE). As part of this standard, employers now require ASTM F2413-05 (formerly ANSI Z41 PT99) rated safety footwear (steel toe boots, etc.) in areas where employees are exposed to injury as a result of falling or rolling objects. All steel toe shoes meet or exceed ASTM F2413-05 (formerly ANSI Z41 PT99) I/75 C/75 standards.

METATARSAL GUARD (MG)

Metatarsal guard footwear protects both the toes and the metatarsal bone behind the toes. Metatarsal guard shoes are required in any environment where injuries can occur to the metatarsal bone. They are most commonly used in foundries,  air product distribution, and other heavy manufacturing. All styles marked with the “MG” icon meet the ASTM F2413-05 (formerly ANSI Z41 PT99) I/75 C/75 standards.

STATIC DISSIPATIVE (SD)

SD shoes regulate the build-up of electrical charge in a person’s body. Electrostatic dissipative shoes are commonly used for those who work in the manufacturing of computer components, solvent-based paints, explosives, and plastics. SD products reduce the risk of static shock to people and to the manufactured product. All safety shoes marked with the “SD” icon meet the ASTM F2413-05 (formerly ANSI Z41 PT99) I/75 C/75 SD.

CONDUCTIVE (CD)

Conductive shoes protect against the hazards of static electricity build-up. They are intended to protect the wearer in an environment where the accumulations of static electricity on the body is a hazard. These shoes should not be worn by people working near open electrical circuits. All styles marked with the “CD” icon meet the ASTM F2413-05 (formerly ANSI Z41 PT99) I/75 C/75 CD.

COMPOSITE TOE

Compared to their steel toe counterparts the composite toes are manufactured using lightweight materials to make the shoe weigh less while meeting SEMC® safety-toes exceed both ASTM F2413-05 (formerly ANSI Z41 PT99) I/75 and C/75 standards. The SEMC® safety-toes retain heat in severe cold, are 30% lighter than steel and are non-metallic for electronic security work environments.

ELECTRICAL HAZARD (EH)

ASTM F2413-05 Electrical Hazard safety footwear provides workers with a secondary source of protection from live circuits, wires or highly charged electrical equipment. The insulating properties of such footwear are measured under dry conditions and may deteriorate in wet environments with wear.

SLIP RESISTANT (SR)

Slip resistant safety footwear is the fastest-growing segment of the safety footwear industry. The reason: today’s slip resistant shoes work. For many employers with wet, oily, and/or greasy floors, it is common sense to require slip resistant safety footwear. Slip related injuries can be extremely costly. Employers who require slip resistant boots and shoes reduce workers’ compensation claims. This is good news for everyone.

 

Want to learn more about these standards, or the services we offer? Check us out at www.safgard.com today!

What is MaxTrax Slip Resistant Outsole?

For some warehouse and plant employees, it isn’t enough to just protect your feet with safety toes and metatarsal guards. Sometimes, these environments also require that your safety shoes have a  slip resistant outsole, and what better outsole than a MaxTrax® slip resistant outsole from our sister company, SR Max®!

Like most things in life, not all slip resistant safety toe shoes are created equal. That’s why SR Max® took it upon themselves to create the premier slip resistant tread pattern that helps keep you confident on the job.

While you’re constantly protected on the job wearing the sole that Works Where You Work, have you ever wondered what goes into producing it? Read on to find out.

When SR Max® first came about in 2007, MaxTrax® was not yet invented. Instead, we carried shoes with slip resistant outsoles from other companies. Within one year, SR Max® advanced the game. We created and produced the most slip resistant outsole available by:

Creating the overall design of the tread.

The MaxTrax® pattern is intended to give the outsole the highest amount of surface area possible. The pattern still provides deep grooves that are arranged to help channel liquids.

The specialized groove design allows for an essential self-cleaning feature. This feature keeps the bottom of your shoes cleaner than many other slip resistant work shoes.

Using a flexible, soft rubber compound outsole.

The MaxTrax® outsole provides more give upon impact. This “give” allows for a reinforced grip and a better hold on the ground. In our independent Brungrabber Mark II slip resistance test results in greasy, high soil oily/wet, and wet environments, MaxTrax® passed each test with flying colors making our outsole the icon of slip resistance.

MaxTrax® far surpasses the Coefficient of Friction (i.e. the measure of slip resistance) necessary to make a safe step in each test. Where other outsoles failed on one type of surface or had COF’s near the mark for slipping on others, SR Max® alone exceeded the threshold on all surfaces tested.

Partnerships.

All SR Max® brand shoes are made with our MaxTrax® outsole. However, we ’ve partnered up with several other brands to make MaxTrax® available on select shoes offered by SR Max® and Saf-GardTM. Our MaxTrax® outsole can be found on select styles from brands such as Skechers, Rockport Works, and Reebok.

Interested in getting your own pair of slip-resistant shoes with a MaxTrax® outsole? Check us out online at safgard.com or srmax.com.

*Please Note: While our MaxTrax® outsole is truly a class of its own, it is important to remember that no shoe is completely slip-proof. This is particularly true if the sole of the shoe is prevented from making contact with the floor (for example: slipping on a banana peel). Always utilize caution and take preventative measures when working in slippery environments.

How to Prevent Buying Painful Safety Shoes

You know that feeling you get when you commit to something, and you know from the start that you shouldn’t? Like lease agreements in not-so-great apartments, expensive gym memberships, and last but certainly not least, improper fitting safety toe shoes that cause painful rubbing sensations on your toes?

Each one of those scenarios is painful for different reasons, and we’ve all been there. While we can’t help you with all of the issues above, we can certainly give you some guidance on how to find the perfect fit when it comes to safety toe footwear… one out of three bad scenarios isn’t the best, but darn it, it’s something!

Let’s jump in…

Remember, safety toe comfort comes in length, not width

You have to get a shoe long enough to accommodate the back and forth toe movement in the shoes. The proper fit happens when the widest point of your foot (the ball) is located exactly in the widest part of the shoe. When that happens, the arch of your foot fits precisely with the arch of the shoe, giving you maximum support.

So what’s happening?

Your arch has probably dropped over the years, extending the toes of the shoes forward. This back and forth motion of your toes is why you need to fit your shoes (not just safety shoes) using your arch measurement.

Are you measuring up?

The arch measurement can be obtained with a Brannock Foot Measuring Device, you can find this in most reputable shoe stores. For more information on how to measure your feet, check out our blog here.

Suggestion: Try to get your foot measured in a shoe store before you buy your next pair of safety shoes to see if your arch has dropped a little, extending the toes further into your shoes to the point where they are rubbing the safety toe.

Reason: As we age and potentially get weaker and heavier your arch drops. When the arch drops, it causes our feet to get longer. It happens to everyone! We know, in your younger days your shoe size might have been 9.5; and now you wear an 11 at 50 years of age. Over that time, you’ve probably also gone from a 32-inch waist to a 36, and packed on a few extra pounds. Time is, after all, a cruel master.

Now, your foot really hasn’t grown in this timespan, it’s just changed shape (the same thing happened to our waistlines… right?). The arch drops and the toes and arch extend further in the shoe. All this means is that you need a longer shoe.

If you are finding that you still don’t seem to have enough distance widthwise, you can look into getting a wider safety toe shoe.

One final tip: Bigger brands typically have their shoes made by different manufacturers. Different styles within the same brand may fit differently because of this fact. Again, the most reliable solution is to try the shoes on and test the location of the “ball” of your foot in the shoe to make sure you are getting the right fit.

Try out some of these tips, and you should be able to find the perfect fit!

Still a little confused? Our retail store associates and Mobile Shoe Managers are all trained and ready to help you find the best safety toe shoes for your needs! Click here to find a location near you!

Why You Should Take the Time to Get a Shoe Fitting

What do we want? More time!! When do we want it? Yesterday!!

Yes, with the long work week and the hassle of every other activity and event going on in our lives, it seems like we have no free time for anything. So how we choose to spend this free time is extremely valuable, and something as small as a shoe fitting will likely get swept under the rug.

I mean, come on! What’s the point right? We’re all over the age of five, so we all know our own shoe sizes. Obviously, we don’t need our safety shoes to be fitted by a professional because we can clearly do it ourselves, right?

One would think.

But, there’s actually more to sizing than meets the eye. When you’re on your feet for eight hours a day, your shoes need to fit perfectly. Or else…the improperly fitted shoe demons will haunt you until you find yourself cursing the creator of the first ever pair of shoes.

Remember back in elementary school when we had to do compare/contrast exercises? Let’s go ahead and do one of those here.

Your first day at work without getting your new safety shoes properly fitted:

You arrive at the warehouse for your first day on the job. Your new steel-toe boots look great on you, you’re feeling confident, and you’re ready for this exciting new challenge in your life.

Flash forward five hours: That same steel toe protecting your foot has now caused you to lose all feeling in your big toe. For all that you know, your big toe could have fallen off by now and ended up in one of those boxes that you just loaded onto a truck. As you hobble around on just the heel of your foot, the judgmental side-eye glare from your coworkers is all too real.

But that’s not all.  Another two hours (if only all work days could move this fast), and the boot on your other foot is creating blisters the size of Mars. At this point, you’re debating whether or not just chopping your foot off entirely is the best option (hint: it’s not. Don’t do that).

Every step feels like you’re walking on knives, and you end the day by throwing your new pair of boots in the giant warehouse trash compactor. Sounds like a cheerful first day, huh?

Now here’s your first day with shoes that have been properly fitted:

When you take the extra time to get your shoes fitted by a professional, they would know exactly where your big toe should be within the shoe while standing. They’d double check this before you left the store, and they’d have you walk a few laps around the store to ensure that the shoes feel good while you walk.

A professional would also know exactly how long and wide the shoe should be on your feet. They would check to make sure that the ball of your foot is resting on the widest part of your shoe to make sure that they don’t slip around and cause those nasty blisters.

So you arrive at work in your new, stylish, and properly fitted safety shoes, and you have a completely normal and ordinary day! There’s the thrilling and anticlimactic ending that we were looking for. Safety shoes are meant to keep you safe and looking good, and they also shouldn’t distract you from your everyday activities at work.

So don’t be that person who says, “But they felt ok when I tried them on in the store!” as you hobble around while cursing your new shoes. Get them properly fitted and checked out by a professional.

Any questions? Feel free to visit our sizing and fitting page here to read about specific shoe sizes and width letters: https://www.safgard.com/education/sizing-fit

Preparing for an OSHA Safety Inspection

 

OSHA inspections can arise at any time, and it’s crucial that you’re prepared for it in order to avoid any negative consequences to your company.

First, let’s take a look at what can prompt an OSHA inspection:

  • Workplace catastrophes and fatalities
  • Employee complaints
  • Referrals (can come from any corporation, including other government agencies)
  • Programmed inspections
    • Could be based on emphasis programs, injury rates, or previous citations
  • Random inspections
  • Follow-up inspections

Since most inspections aren’t announced beforehand, it’s important to have a plan in place before your favorite OSHA inspector comes knocking.

Identify your Safety Manager and Back-up

First, an employee should be identified as a safety manager who walks the OSHA representative around while they are conducting their inspection. A “Plan B” person should also be assigned in case the safety manager is out on the day of the inspection. Always ask to see the representative’s identification to ensure that they are not an imposter before conducting the inspection.

Get your Information Straight

Before the inspection begins, you will be informed about the reasoning behind the inspection. The inspector will also ask for basic information about the facility, including the type of work performed, number of employees, names of those in charge and contact information.

Duration and Preparation

The length of the inspection will vary depending on the focus and size of the facility. It could take anywhere from a day to multiple weeks. The inspector will likely ask for documents relevant to the inspection (e.g. injury and illness logs), and it is important to have these documents accurate and readily available at all times.

Safety Guidelines for Footwear

When it comes to protective footwear, general requirements state that, “the employer shall ensure that each affected employee uses protective footwear when working in areas where there is a danger of foot injuries due to falling or rolling objects, or objects piercing the sole, and where such employee’s feet are exposed to electrical hazards.”

Saf-GardTM is committed to providing your company with up-to-date safety shoes, ensuring that your employees are in compliance with all OSHA regulations. To learn more about OSHA regulations, just visit https://www.safgard.com/education/osha

Safety Tips for Any Industry

Warehouses, foundries, construction sites and factories can be some of the most dangerous places to work when it comes to accidents and injury. Think about it… large and moving machinery such as forklifts, carrying heavy loads such as pallets and heavy equipment can be hazardous for you and your workers, and we all know accidents can happen regardless of how careful we try to be.

Check out these safety tips and learn how to make your own work environments safer and more productive:

Want to download this infographic for your team? Click here for your free PDF download!

How to Keep Your Feet Healthy

You’re on your feet for at least eight hours a day, and 40 hours a week. It’s time to give them a little TLC for all of the stress and pressure (literally and figuratively) that they are under every single day. Check out our foot facts infographic to educate yourself a little more about your most reliable transportation system,  and learn how to protect yourself from the ground up!

Download your FREE foot fact infographic here to share with employees, colleagues, and managers today!

For more information about how to keep your feet safe on the job and see our selection on safety shoes, visit us online at www.safgard.com 

Best Boots for Welders

Whether you are looking for a new pair or your first pair of welding boots, here are some things to consider before you make your next purchase:

It is important to keep in mind that as a tradesman, your feet are just as valuable as your hands. Therefore, your work boots need to be viewed as a personal safety investment, not an expense.

As with all safety boots, the first thing you want to make sure of is that your new boots are relatively easy to put on, comfortable to wear for extended periods of time and above all else, will keep you safe from whatever hazards await you at your workplace.

With those basics in mind, let’s jump in and discuss what specifics you should be looking for in your next pair of work boots.

Comfort and Safety are King

As we previously stated, you need to make sure that your boots are easy to get off and on, and that they are comfortable and safe. You’ll be getting intimate with these boots for at least eight hours a day, if not more. Many tradesmen can attest to the fact that there are few things worse than a pair of uncomfortable work boots that you are stuck wearing. So do yourself a favor, make sure they are comfortable!

Laces or Slip-On’s?

Well, for starters, it is obvious that laced boots and safety shoes will provide more support than a pull-on boot or shoe, due to the fact that you can adjust laces to create a more custom fit.

With that being said, laces also risk catching on fire from sparks landing on them. This particular threat can be lessened with a simple external metatarsal guard, which leads us to our next topic…

Metatarsal Guards for All!

The use of an external metatarsal guard on your safety boots will not only protect your laces from turning into tinder, but they also protect you from falling objects falling in the workplace.

Let’s face it, when it comes to personal protection on the job, you can never be too careful. So make sure you choose a pair of work boots that meet the necessary criteria for your welding career.

To learn more about the products we offer, check us out at www.safgard.com