Tito Warren, vice president of global sales and distribution for Red Wing Shoe Company speaks to Pipeline Magazine about safety clothing for the oil and gas industry
How is your company involved in safety clothing?
Red Wing Shoe Company expanded beyond footwear more than 50 years ago when our customers started asking for it to simplify their supply chain. Today, we offer customised, head-to-toe personal protective equipment (PPE) solutions for the eyes, hand, body and feet to help keep workers safe in demanding environments. Red Wing offers everything from original product designs and raw goods sourcing to quality manufacturing, testing, distribution and service. We apply the same quality and safety standards to all our safety workwear, not just our famed footwear. This enables our customers to return their focus to key business activities and workers’ needs.
What are the top industry concerns when it comes to safety clothing?
One of the biggest challenges of PPE we’re seeing is that workers have gotten used to wearing lightweight, breathable sneakers and active-wear in their free time. As a result, employees who need to wear specialised PPE for long, gruelling hours might avoid properly wearing items they consider uncomfortable, which can put them in harm’s way.
How is Red Wing Shoe helping address these concerns and enhance safety for workers?
Red Wing actively studies on-site work practices and solicits feedback from workers across a variety of industries to stay ahead of their needs and preferences. As a result, we’ve been able to introduce products made with innovative lightweight materials that meet or exceed the safety standards achieved by their bulkier predecessors. For example, Red Wing recently launched V06/ V16 Series coveralls, which offer exceptional fi t and uncompressed function along with 360-degree shoulder movement and additional mesh venting to keep workers cool and comfortable throughout their shift.
What is your demand outlook for safety clothing in this industry?
Demand for safety continues to be strong not only in oil and gas but in the entire energy industry. In fact, other sectors within energy are adapting the same outlook on safety as the oil and gas industry because they are seeing the benefit of investing in their employees. As a result, protective clothing will continue to grow because companies want to invest in their employees’ safety to help them avoid potential injury and time off the job.
What challenges does the industry face in boosting the level of safety in clothing?
A challenge facing the industry is the risk intense heat poses to workers. Each year, thousands of workers become sick from occupational heat exposure, yet these illnesses are preventable, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Red Wing is pushing the industry to maintain safety standards while coming up with more comfortable options. For example, we recently unveiled two products with advanced cooling technology designed for pipeline oil and gas workers, many of whom work in some of the hottest areas on the globe. The CoolTech Athletics line combines the lightweight comfort of an athletic shoe with the safety and performance of a work boot. Red Wing’s advanced CrossBreeze technology surrounds the foot with a conductive fibre that moves heat away from the skin, creating an instant cooling effect you can actually feel. The V06/V16 Series coveralls mentioned above feature additional mesh venting across the back shoulders and underneath the arms to aid in circulation and keep workers cool.
These cooling advancements are part of Red Wing’s global head-to-toe solution offering. All of its products meet or exceed global safety standards and offer industry leading warranty coverage.
How is your company contributing to building a sustaining culture of safety within organisations?
A culture of safety starts with having safety engrained within your own company. At Red Wing, we are relentless about educating our internal teams and partners about the importance of safety, and the latest products and trends to ensure they can help our customers find the proper solutions that will keep their employees protected. Red Wing offers a comprehensive and customisable assortment of head-to-toe PPE solutions to keep workers safe and productive on the job. Solutions can be customised for role- or environmental specific requirements and come with industry-leading warranty coverage. Because of our robust 110-country distribution network, and local inventory availability, we’re also able to ensure prompt service and rapid fulfilment for these products worldwide.
How are technological changes, innovation and data impacting the industry when it comes to safety?
New technologies and data from research have impacted the way we design and create products. A premium PPE solution designed from insights learned in the field and utilising the latest technology can help workers avoid potential injury and costly time off the job. Our top responsibility is improving the overall safety of workers, so the PPE we create is purpose-built for the specific needs of each person who will be wearing our products, ensuring they have the necessary protective features. For example, the new Burnside boot features a Vibram outsole for excellent slip and heat resistance on the uneven surfaces of heavy industrial, construction and indoor/outdoor work environments. On the high-wear toe and heel areas, it features a Helcor top coating – a razor-thin polyurethane (PU) layer fused with the leather beneath – to create an extremely resilient exterior surface. This collection offers incredible comfort due to memory foam padding along the tongue and collar, high rebound PU Midsole and a four-layer removable footbed.