Shoemobiles have long been a traditional service offered by safety footwear distributors.

When it comes to purchasing safety footwear, traditional distribution methods — such as shoemobiles, retail and on-site stores — boast many benefits. Shoemobiles are trucks converted to provide custom on-site fittings and retail services. Inventory on shoemobiles can exceed one thousand pairs of footwear.

Shoemobiles and retail locations offer an up-close look at footwear, as well as the opportunity to be properly measured by a footwear professional and to try on various styles. Experimenting with different styles before making a decision increases the probability of a proper fit and a satisfying purchase.

Get personal
A personal fitting is the first step toward comfortable safety footwear. It’s highly beneficial to be properly measured and fitted by a safety footwear expert. Foot measurements are taken with a Brannock Device®, designed to indicate the correct shoe size while allowing enough room for comfort. The Brannock Device® determines heel-to-toe, arch and width measurements, all critical to properly fitting footwear.

Accurate measurements provide a base size to use during a fitting and are best obtained when the device is handled by a trained footwear salesperson. Shoemobiles, retail locations and on- site stores are equipped with both a Brannock Device® and trained employees to assess and explain measurements.

Try it on, try it out
After being measured and fitted, it’s important to try on several different styles. Each pair, during construction, is shaped by its last. A last is a solid form, shaped roughly like a human foot, around which a shoe is molded during manufacturing. The proposed sizes, fit and style each factor into the process of selecting a last to use, and the last dictates the inside dimensions. Discovering the most appropriate fit depends on the anatomy of a foot; certain lasts may prove to mimic one foot profile more accurately than another.

Even though several styles appear quite similar on the shelf, distinctions inside may be apparent. Lacing up several different styles will determine if the inside shape of one pair is more suitable than another.

Feet serve as a foundation for the body, and a bad foundation can negatively affect an entire structure. In this case, improperly fitting footwear can translate to debilitating pain or discomfort throughout the back, knees, hips, and so on. Each day, safety footwear is in motion and hard at work, laced on to workers moving around, walking, kneeling down, bending over, and climbing up and down stairs, ladders or inclines. Analyzing each style by performing a few of these actions decreases the risk of uncomfortable surprises.

Pain and injury free
Wearing the proper size and fit is more comfortable and helps prevent injury and foot discomfort. A poor fit can fuel several problems, including hammertoe, blisters, corns, calluses, arthritis, flat feet, bunions and sprains. Moreover, inadequate footwear is a known culprit for serious injury on the worksite. Improper footwear can contribute play a role in slips, trips, and falls, which the Bureau of Labor Statistics cites as the contributing factor for nearly 25 percent of all nonfatal injuries requiring days away from work in 2007.

Knowledge to protect
Safety footwear is equipped with various protection features and technologies, and knowledge of these features and their applications is important. Failing to purchase footwear with the appropriate safety features is hazardous. Rest assured, visiting a retail location or shoemobile is a sure way to get equipped with the precise foot protection demanded by a work environment.

Many companies opt to participate in national account programs that offer customizable footwear plans that work to promote safety and increase compliance. Safety managers are able to limit the footwear selection available to employees by choosing a list of approved styles. In addition, national account programs offer access to valueadded services such as: nationwide retail locations; shoemobiles; on-site custom fittings; phone, fax, email and U.S. mail ordering options; and onsite consignment or commissary stores.

Choose tradition
Traditional distribution methods remain the preferred means of purchasing safety footwear. These channels are reliable and offer more personal services. When it comes to safety and footwear, a majority of industry professionals favor tradition.