Soldiers win boot battle

YOUR mother may not wear Army boots, but the men and women who do have been allowed to choose their own for the first time this week.

Instead of issuing all Australian soldiers with the one type of combat boot, a taskforce deploying shortly to Afghanistan will be given a choice of 10 styles.

"For the first time, soldiers will reimbursed if they choose a boot other than the standard issue," Colonel Hayden Kohl of the Defence Materiel Organisation said.

"They're professionals, they talk to the armies of other nations and they're very interested in what gear works best for them," he said.

"It's a personal preference like a runner preferring to wear Nike or Brooks shoes, but these are operational boots for combat soldiers."

The former general manager of global health and safety for Bechtel Kevin Berg said it was the same in industry, where best practice on site drove development.

Even the hard hat was considered state-of-the-art at the time of its invention by Bechtel workers building the Hoover Dam.

"We listen to the voice of our customers - our workforce - and adjust the equipment provided to them as required.

"They are the ones using the PPE every day in a variety of environments putting the equipment to the test," Mr Berg said.

Both the Army and industry say it's better to wear lace-up styles.

"They offer better ankle support over rough terrain and they're more robust. If they fail you only need to replace a lace," Col Kohl said.

Mr Berg agrees.

"Lace-up boots are a preferred option as they provide better ankle support. There is nothing unique about the island - it is the same as any other construction worksite," he said.

Queensland Alumina banned elastic-sided safety boots on site some time ago because of a higher risk of caustic leaching into the sides.

 

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