When we go grocery shopping, we pay particular attention to expiry dates. We even tend to check our kitchen and pantries occasionally to ensure that our supplies don’t go to waste. This applies to many other personal, household and work supplies. Yet, not many people have ever thought to ask “do safety shoes expire?”
A common misconception people hold is that the durability of safety shoes is assured by its ability to withstand impacts and as a result, they don’t expire. In fact, several old artisans boast of their “rugged boots” that last a lifetime!
The truth, however, is that safety shoes expire! Irrespective of how solid or good looking a safety shoe is, it’s important that you know when to give it the boot. For this reason, we have written on everything you need to know about safety shoe expiration. Read along!
ARE EXPIRED SAFETY SHOES DANGEROUS?
It is not uncommon to see workers continue to wear their expired or extremely worn out safety footwear. One may get a perfect pair of protective footwear and several years down the line they still seem alright and the thought of disposing them seem outrageous.
Safety shoes are designed to protect the feet but when expired are dangerous to the feet. They can cause foot injuries and back pain, lead to trips, slips, and falls, and possible death.
Related: Why are safety shoes important?
INDICATIONS OF EXPIRED SAFETY SHOES
With the knowledge that safety shoes expire, it is important that we are able to tell when they have expired. There are several ways you can do this, including:
- Check the expiration date
- Look out for warning signs of expired or damaged safety shoes
Check the expiration date
An expiry date refers to a set date after which a product ceases to be fit for use or consumption. Safety shoes typically have expiry dates set for about 6 to 12 months from their manufacturing date.
Many safety boots have their expiry dates on them. This is usually indicated by a clock-like symbol on their soles. The numbers of the clock refer to months. So whatever number the hand of the clock points to is its expiration month. The two digits on either side of the hand refer to the year.
Additionally, the expiration date may be written on the package/ box of your safety shoes.
Look out for warning signs of expired or damaged safety shoes
Asides expiration dates, there are signs safety shoes exhibit that may as well mean “a cry for change”. These signs include:
- Worn-out soles
- Poor Insulating/ waterproof ability
- Reduced comfort
- Gaping mouths/ fronts
- Chemical attack
- Excessive usage
This is one glaring indication that denotes a deteriorated safety boot. Worn-out outsoles signify that a safety boot has lost its impact resistance or shock-absorbing properties. Such shoes are also dangerous because they have a reduced ability to protect the feet from sharp objects. Holes in your soles are bad too. Furthermore, there is a marked decrease in the shoes’ grip and skid resistance.
Poor Insulating/ waterproof ability
When you begin to notice that your safety shoes have lost their insulating properties, then it’s about time to get another one. Inclusively, you should be on the watch for when your waterproof boots suddenly stop being so.
Gaping mouths or fronts
Are you confused about the gaping mouth bit? Well, we consider safety shoes to be thirsty once their upper and sole starts to get separated. It’s normal to think to get that gap closed up but if it becomes recurrent, think again!
Lack of Comfort
Comfort is a major factor to be considered when acquiring safety shoes. Once this begins to wane, it is most likely time to get a new pair. Think about it, what are safety shoes without comfort? Also, note that flexibility is good but bad when excessive.
Some safety shoes, especially those made with rubber materials, are susceptible to chemical attacks. These attacks could lead to discolorations, cracks, and other forms of degradation. Once your safety shoes suffer these damages, you may want to get a new pair.
Your safety shoes require care and “pampering”. It’s not enough to pick a pair off the shelf and proceed to wear them daily. You need to care for them appropriately! Even with the right care, a pair of safety boots will become less protective with continuous or excessive usage.
For this reason, it is advised that you alternate between pairs and get new ones once you notice wear. It is possible to wear a very good pair for long and feel no difference. Yet, you must change that pair after its expiration or the recommended period of use.
OSHA’s approach to the expiration of safety shoes
In 1994, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a revision on its personnel-protective equipment regulations 29 CFR 1910.136. It stipulated the standard of foot protection and efficient care of safety shoes.
OSHA recommends the use of X-rays in determining when to change your safety boot. Safety shoes have toes that are built to resist the impact of 75 ft-lbs. This property reduces with increased impact but may go unnoticed since the toe is usually covered. This is done only at the discretion of the safety personnel or that of the contractor, employee, or issuer.
Additionally, some professionals suggest that safety shoes should be changed after a severe impact on the toe.
Does storage affect the expiration of safety boots?
This is another important question about safety shoe expiration. Some components of safety shoes are affected by storage.
A good example is the Thermo Polyurethane used in making some outsoles. Overtime this polymer undergoes hydrolysis (which is the chemical breakdown of polymer compounds) even if the shoes haven’t been worn.
Always check the sole of your boots before purchase so you don’t buy one that’s new but expired.
Related: How do I choose safety shoes?
Safety shoes expire! You may see the signs or not but it is important that you cease to wear expired and damaged safety shoes. Overused boots should also be done away with irrespective of expiration dates. The safety of your feet is paramount and must be protected at all costs!
As usual, we will love to hear from you! Get in touch with us in the comments section. Let us know what you think and how this guide helps.
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