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Case Study: Keeping Crews on Their Feet with Proper Footwear

Footwear Programs Improve Safety, Productivity and Morale

The Customer

With over 150 distribution centers servicing all 50 states and Puerto Rico, this RefrigiWear customer is a large national distributor of dry and perishable groceries. This facility is located on the southern east coast and has approximately 75 employees in the freezer, wearing RefrigiWear garments to stay warm.

The Problem

Though this facility was supplying garments like jackets and bibs to their employees in the freezer, it was not supplying footwear. Employees were not only responsible for purchasing their own footwear, but the facility management also wasn’t aware of the differences in work boots, so there was no real guidance for employees. The outsoles of box-store work boots aren’t designed for freezers so they break down faster and don’t offer proper protection. Boots were losing their slip resistance, falling apart fast and exposing employees’ feet to cold. Unhappy employees were leaving due to the discomfort on the job.

As RefrigiWear looked at the issues the customer was experiencing, a few things became apparent:

  1. Safety needed to be improved to reduced accidents and injury
  2. Employees needed footwear specifically designed for the freezer
  3. Employees needed guidance on the best footwear for the conditions 
  4. Employee morale and productivity needed a boost
  5. Employees needed gear that could handle the job without slowing them down and falling apart

“I noticed the freezer employees’ morale was low and we were seeing turnover higher than what I expected. I wanted a solution that would make the team enjoy working, up productivity and morale, and reduce those turnover numbers. Adding a footwear program was the perfect solution.”

– Facility General Manager 

The Solutions

RefrigiWear socks on a warehouse employee foot in a locker room

In addition to the garments the facility provides, they decided to implement an annual footwear program. Every new employee is provided with a pair of Extreme Hiker Boots featuring the Boa® Fit System. These boots are rated to -40°F and have our exclusive VitaComfort® System to manage moisture and reduce the effects of impact–making it easier for employees to work long shifts without experiencing foot fatigue and discomfort. Part of our Extreme Collection, the Extreme Hiker’s Boa® Fit System ensures a snug fit all shift long and can be adjusted without removing gloves and exposing hands to the cold. Employees are also provided a pair of Extreme Socks and PolarForce® Socks. These socks are warm, comfortable and made for work. Pairing them with boots designed for freezer work adds to the employees’ warmth and comfort. In addition to the initial footwear supplied when hired, employees can get a new pair of boots every year on their anniversary. 

The Results

Employees were not only safer and warmer in the Extreme Hiker Boots, they also really liked the way the work boots looked which went a long way to improving morale. With accident rates down and the cold no longer a problem for employees’ feet, productivity soared and turnover went down. With boots designed for the temperatures, conditions and work, employees get their jobs done faster and more efficiently. The boots and socks pair nicely with the garments employees were already wearing, and they now have full head-to-toe protection on the job. 

Boa fit system, a boot closure and fit system, being tightened on a RefrigiWear boot