We speak to Warren Bosse, marketing manager of personal protective equipment (PPE) provider Pienaar Bros, to gain further insight into the South African PPE footwear market and discover what considerations companies should take into account before they buy these products.
Pienaar Bros has been an industry presence in safety footwear since 1988, when the business was founded by Brian Pienaar.
How has PPE footwear changed during this time?
Technology has been the biggest change we’ve seen, as manufacturers have learnt how to take standard footwear and adapt it to our local working culture. This is very different to other parts of the world and has its own specific set of circumstances.
For example, workers in South Africa will not only wear their boots for the duration of the workday, but also for the two to three hours of travel to and from work that many of them are required to do. So, the standard eight hours of comfort is a minimum requirement here, whereas more developed countries have a standard of eight hours of comfort. We really put our footwear through the ringer.
What should companies consider before they buy PPE footwear?
The application of the footwear, for example whether you need a boot or shoe. If your employees work in areas where they could sustain an ankle injury, then they’ll need a boot. They should also consider the conditions in which the footwear will be worn.
What should they keep in mind or do after the purchase?
Employers should provide proper training programmes and ensure that they have guidelines in place for the users on how to use and take care of their footwear. This will enable companies and their employees to get the best possible lifetime out of the footwear, and will improve comfort and foot hygiene. They should also check that shoes or boots aren’t too old. Footwear does obviously have a shelf life, although this has been extended considerably over the years due to technological advancements.
What challenges do companies face with regard to PPE footwear?
Some of the major challenges faced by employers in terms of overseeing protective footwear include cheap imports that are of low quality; users who don’t fit their footwear properly, since toe caps do change the sizing slightly; and users not replacing their footwear when the product is spent.
How does Pienaar Bros help to overcome these challenges?
We always buy local when we can, and offer advice wherever possible. We also never inflate our prices, which means that the products remain affordable.
What does the future hold for PPE footwear?
Local manufacturing is the future for our country and we have some of the highest safety expectations in the world. We are able to proudly fulfil our own standards, which is not usually the case. As a country, South Africa really is a shining example in terms of safety standards and manufacturing safety products.