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BIA-Brukerstyrt innovasjonsarena

Lighten the load by optimized occupational footwear

Alternative title: Optimaliserte arbeidssko for redusert belastning

Awarded: NOK 5.2 mill.

Project Number:

332239

Project Period:

2022 - 2024

Funding received from:

Location:

Partner countries:

The project's overall goal is to develop optimized occupational footwear that will meet requirements for good ergonomics, safety, and a reduced environmental footprint. Low satisfaction with fit and comfort are often reported in the industries, and there is a high rate of musculoskeletal complaints from the lower back and lower limbs. Occupational footwear is worn to protect the wearer against hazards. However, solely focusing on the protection often leads to uncomfortable, heavy, and stiff shoes. Furthermore, production of occupational footwear is complex and requires a large variety of materials and processes that leads to substantial environmental impact. Key R&D challenges lie in solving these challenges, which in many cases are contradictory. The new product will provide adequate protection, good ergonomics, and low environmental impact, and will be achieved in close collaboration between industry partners (Weanaas Workwear AS, Equinor ASA, Aker BP and OneCo Nettworks AS) and research partners (SINTEF, Orion), and by using opportunities and scientific methods in user-centered innovation, physiology, holistic environmental assessment, new materials, and shoe construction. The project starts with creating a first draft of specification of requirements for optimized safety shoes. It shall contain the employees' user needs related to safety shoes. The user needs include both needs in relation to functionality and ergonomics, but also requirements in accordance with the regulations. Thorough evaluation of the environmental footprint of current safety shoes must be done to identify areas that can be improved to reduce the environmental impact of the shoes. At the same time, materials and processes must be assessed for functionality and sustainability. The ergonomics will in the early stages of the project be included by user involvement and knowledge about the design of safety shoes for increased comfort.

In this project Wenaas Workwear AS will develop optimized occupational footwear in collaboration with Orion, SINTEF, Equinor ASA, Aker BP and OneCo Networks. Low satisfaction with fit and comfort are often reported in the industries, and there is a high rate of musculoskeletal complaints from the lower back and lower limbs. Occupational footwear is worn to protect the wearer against hazards. However, solely focusing on the protection often leads to uncomfortable, heavy, and stiff shoes. Furthermore, production of occupational footwear is complex and requires a large variety of materials and processes that leads to substantial environmental impact. The specifications by the safety standards makes sustainability especially challenging and it has not so far been properly prioritized in the safety footwear industry. Providing more protection than needed in any given occupation further increases both ergonomic and sustainability problems. Three main design requirements for making exceptional occupational footwear will be crucial: 1) adequate protection against extrinsic factors, 2) excellent ergonomics, and 3) minimizing the environmental footprint. These design requirements are often contradictory. Solving this challenge will be based on insight into the user needs and requirements, expertise regarding the safety requirements, shoe construction, and scientific methodology in product design, work physiology, and holistic environmental assessment, as well as innovative thinking, state-of-the art materials, Life Cycle Analysis, and interdisciplinary collaboration. Documented effects relevant for occupational health and comfort will be assessed by scientific methods both in the laboratory and in the field. Systematic iterations of product development, evaluations and consecutive improvements with a holistic perspective will be key elements during the innovation process.

Funding scheme:

BIA-Brukerstyrt innovasjonsarena