Crawford Boots is leading the way in innovation and value. Launched in 2014, the Australian company manufactures mining boots that answer three major problems: lack of comfort, safety and cost.
“Working as a Podiatrist in rural NSW for nearly 30 years, I have seen many underground miners with feet and ankle injuries – often caused by ill-fitting boots. It’s unsurprising given the dark, wet and unstable environment,” said founder Penny Crawford.
“Neither gumboots or leather boots provided the best outcome for the individual or mining company in terms of comfort, risk management or value for money. I wanted to create a solution to both. Crawford Boots is a winner for everyone.”
The boots were developed working alongside Workplace Health and Safety at Narrabri Coal Whitehaven Mine. They wanted a solution to the problems created by ill-fitting boots, from slips, trips and falls to ankle and soft tissue injuries.
“We’re always looking for new ways to improve the health and safety of our workforce,” said a Whitehaven Coal spokesperson. “We were happy to partner with a local businessperson on a product innovation that offered real health and safety benefits for our people.”
The ‘WedgeTech™ Personalised Lock-fit System’ was the answer. Six inserts in three different sizes come with each pair, slotting into the pocket on the front of each boot to lock the foot in place. This guarantees a tailored fit each time. It is this technology that landed Crawford Boots the 2019 NSW Minerals Council HSEC Health Award in conjunction with Whitehaven Coal.
“Crawford Boots are the first innovation in terms of waterproof boots. They combine the best features of leather boots (comfort and stability) with the best features of gumboots (being waterproof),” said Penny.
“It only took five years to create them!” Crawford Boots were first trailed at Narrabri Mine Whitehaven Coal in 2019. Over 12 months, the use of Crawford Boots resulted in a 30 per cent reduction in footwear safety costs for trial participants.
“Not only were members of our team able to provide valuable feedback, but the majority of people wearing Crawford Boots also reported a reduction in muscle fatigue and pain,” said the Whitehaven spokesperson.
Georgia Foley is an underground electrician at Narrabri Coal that took part in the trial. She continues to wear her Crawford Boots today.
“When I first started working underground and having to wear gumboots everyday, I was in a lot of pain and I was extremely uncomfortable,” Georgia said. “I had pains in my feet and legs from no support, I had blisters constantly and I found the boots would come off of my feet easily.
“Crawford Boots are extremely supportive in every way needed for working and wearing them in a hard environment . . . The slipping of my feet from gumboots not fitting my feet correctly was a huge issue for me and with the inserts that are provided with the boots, they are made to fit any feet perfectly,” she said.
Unlike most boot manufacturers, Penny attends each Crawford Boots trial to help with fittings. She said visiting the mines personally is part of the fun of the job.
“There’s a misconception mines don’t like implementing change, but I haven’t found this to be the case. I have had the opportunity to work alongside some very innovative teams that constantly look for new processes to increase effectiveness and safety,” Penny said.
“It’s no secret the industry is a dangerous one, particularly for underground miners. Mines go to great lengths to maximise safety standards, which is part of the reason why the mining fatality rate fell last year.”
During each Crawford Boots trial, a series of surveys are conducted at the 6-week, 3-month and 6-month stage. Progress can then be tracked and analysed at each.
At the conclusion of the 6-month milestone, Australian Mining Industry Field Trials in 2019 found Crawford Boots had 49% more life than any other option, and 74% of those surveyed said it was a more durable boot. They provide more comfort for the worker, and increase productivity for the mine.
With tried and tested results from a number of successful trials, there is no risk associated with Crawford Boots. Penny said seeing the success of each trial is an “amazing” feeling.
“You spend a lot of time and effort developing a product because you want to make a difference, and to have such positive feedback that you have improved the conditions for the worker and provided such value to the workplace is fantastic,” she said.