My grandad taught me a few anecdotes during our time together and one has resonated more than any other: “If you aren’t in your shoes you’re in your bed, so invest well in both”. This is something I have always remembered when buying shoes and furniture for my own home! However, recently I realised the shoes I spend most of my working life in, despite being fit for purpose, maybe aren’t the best option for my long term comfort and well being.
This led me to start exploring what alternative waterproof footwear was out there for underground miners, who generally spend in excess of 9 hours a day on their feet. The boot would need to be both comfortable, supportive and definitely waterproof, also offering all the usual safety features required by underground operations. Below is a quick run down of three alternative footwear options that could make a miners shift that little bit easier on the body…
Blundstone #980 Extreme Series Safety Boot
Blundstone are something of an Australian staple in the working footwear arena, they can be spotted on many a tradies feet and are also the industry standard across the underground sector with their #024 unisex safety gumboot. Upon closer investigation there is another boot within there range that could offer more support and comfort in the underground environment, the #980.
This purpose developed boot offers significantly improved ankle support with an inbuilt metatarsal protector. The waterproofing for the boot is delivered by the unique BOA fit system, which allows for easy application and custom fitting. The stitched in reflectors also aid with visibility (if not covered in mud!). The real kicker with these boots though is that overall ankle support that regular underground “gumboots” lack, making these perfect for those with weak ankles or returning to work with a foot/leg injury.
Crawford Boots were designed by a podiatrist who wanted to try and deliver a better boot for the coal miners who were coming through her practice in New South Wales. After six years of development the Crawford Boot was born and delivered commercially to the mining industry. The boot looks more like a standard underground gum boot but utilises a couple of marked differences to improve comfort and support for the miner.
The main point of difference is the WedgeTech™ system that is delivered upon purchase with the boot. This offers custom fit via a series of shaped inserts that attach to the upper internal of the boot. These inserts then allow for a snugger fit, something that is often missing in a conventional gum boot, where the foot and ankle can often move freely. The materials used in the boot and a small external gusseted zip deliver full waterproofing, whilst built in supports deliver full metatarsal protection.
Oliver 350mm Waterproof Mining Boot (65-791)
The Oliver offering looks similar to the Blundstone boot above but what key points set it apart? The lacing setup is different for a start with a combo of external lacing and zips to allow for waterproofing of the boot. It too provides a metatarsal protection system and would no doubt offer much improved ankle support for those working down the hole. The linings and membranes offered by Oliver allow for reduced moisture build up and odour, which is never a bad thing after a long shift (COOLstep® Lining).
These boots all provide an alternative option for a better long term health outcomes and daily comfort for underground miners. Whilst they are going to be a small investment by the miner, the comfort alone should be well worth the tax deductible outlay. I’ve been so impressed in my research into this area that I may even treat myself to a pair for Christmas!
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