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Rubber boots: Health & Safety

Rubber is known for protecting people against electrical shock - hence it is invaluable in the workplace, where employees wear rubber boots and gloves. Rubber possesses this protective property because it's an insulator, meaning electricity doesn't flow through it freely.

Electricity requires a complete path, a circuit, to flow continuously. Rubber-soled shoes provide insulation to help protect the wearer from conducting the shock current through their feet.

Most fashion shoes are not designed to be electrically safe, as even if they have rubber soles, these may be too thin, or made of the wrong substance. Commonly worn, electrical safety shoes and boots are made specifically for employees carrying out potentially dangerous electrical work, while also standing on thick rubber mats can help.

Rubber Boots

 

Legal requirements

Every year, many accidents at work involving electric shock are reported to the Health and Safety Executive - the UK watchdog for safety in the workplace. It is the employer's responsibility to take the relevant steps to ensure the safety of the workforce.

The law relating to health and safety in the workplace requires that certain standards are met when it comes to rubber safety equipment. In the UK, the recognised safety standards are BS EN 61111 2009, ASTM, BS 921 and VDE.

ASTM International is a global standards organisation that develops technical standards for a wide range of systems, products, materials and services. The VDE mark is the hallmark of safety and quality in electrical technologies. The VDE Testing and Certification Institute in Germany tests the safety of tens of thousands of products for customers from across the globe.

In addition, the European Standard BS EN 61111 2009 for electrical matting is recognised internationally. It replaces the British Standard BS 921 1976, although this type of matting is still being sold up to 650V working insulation.

 

Hazardous environments

Rubber boots and rubber safety matting are important for all hazardous and high voltage environments. Rubber can protect workers from electrical shocks in any areas where there's a risk, such as control rooms, plant rooms, places where employees handle live equipment and switchboards.

When working with and around electricity, specialist footwear will reduce the risks of electrocution or other electricity-related accidents.

Footwear safety is vital in skilled craft trades across the board, as even a relatively small mishap can result in an injury. Protective footwear should also be comfortable, especially when you're at work for long hours.

 

Footwear classifications

Electrical safety footwear has three general classifications. The first is non-conductive footwear, often with an “EH” rating, which provides a secondary source of protection for employees who accidentally come into contact with a live electrical circuit.

It's important to select a boot with a rubber outer-sole to ground any charges. This type of sole is also resistant to slips, water and abrasion, further protecting the wearer onsite.

The second classification, anti-static footwear, is meant for workers in environments where there's static electricity. The boots are normally marked with ESD or SD labels. Anti-static footwear will help dissipate a build-up of static electricity in the body, while also offering a reasonable level of resistance to electrical risks from live circuits.

The third type, conductive footwear, will protect the employee in hazardous environments, such as where they are handling volatile or explosive materials. Conductive safety boots are made from materials that offer no electrical resistance. They dissipate static electricity safely to the ground, reducing the risks from a static electrical spark.

Coruba offers a wide range of electrical switchboard and safety matting to complement the protection provided by rubber boots. As the UK's leading supplier of safety matting, we have many different grades, which are compliant with the relevant industry standards and are supplied with full certifications.

All of our rubber safety matting is fully tested, providing safety for employees in lower voltage switchboard areas and in high voltage equipment areas. Please contact us on 01702 811 726 for further information.



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