Most recent recalls of footwear in the EU have been caused by the presence of restricted chemicals, followed by the footwear posing choking hazards and by poor footwear design. These safety and performance issues – and resulting financial losses from recalls – can be avoided through the practice of laboratory testing. Through rigorous testing protocols, manufacturers can ensure that their footwear products are safe, high-quality, and compliant with all the regulations of their destination market. In this blog post, we will explore the significance of lab testing for footwear and how it ensures safety and performance in every step we take.
Lab testing plays a vital role in the footwear industry. It helps to ensure that footwear is safe and performs as expected, which is essential for consumer protection. Lab testing can identify potential safety hazards, such as chemical exposure or trips and falls, as well as ensure compliance with relevant standards and regulations.
In some cases, unsafe or poorly designed footwear can lead to serious injuries, even death. In addition to the human cost, there can also be significant financial consequences for manufacturers and retailers. These include:
Product liability lawsuits: If a consumer is injured by unsafe footwear, they may file a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer or retailer. These lawsuits can be very costly, even if the manufacturer or retailer is ultimately found not to be at fault.
Regulatory fines: In some cases, unsafe footwear violates government regulations. If this is the case, the manufacturer or retailer may be subject to fines or recalls.
Lost sales: If consumers become aware that a particular brand of footwear is unsafe or the subject of recalls, they may stop buying that brand. Footwear that does not adhere to quality standards may also cause damage to your brand reputation.
For these reasons, footwear manufacturers and retailers need to take lab testing seriously. By investing in rigorous testing, you can help to meet customer expectations of quality and safety, and avoid the potential for legal trouble and financial burdens.
Read more about footwear regulations and compliance: Why Is It Important to Have Your Footwear Product Tested?
Safety testing is crucial to ensure that footwear products do not pose any risks or hazards to consumers and comply with relevant regulatory and ISO standards. Some key types of footwear safety testing include:
Harmful substance identification: This testing aims to identify and quantify any potentially hazardous substances present in footwear materials, guaranteeing consumer safety and regulatory compliance. For example, footwear lab testing may assess for the presence of formaldehyde, Dimethyl fumarate, chromium, per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), banned AZO colorants, and chemicals restricted by the EU’s REACH regulation, like substances of very high concern (SVHCs).
Slip resistance testing: This type of testing assesses the footwear's traction and slip resistance on different surfaces to prevent accidental slips and falls.
Heel attachment strength testing: This test evaluates the integrity and durability of the attachment between the heel and the rest of the footwear. By subjecting the footwear to controlled stress and load tests, this testing ensures that the heel remains securely attached during normal usage, preventing potential hazards caused by detachment.
Shoelace and Velcro strength and durability: Testing of shoelaces, Velcro, and other fasteners examines the strength and durability of closures to ensure they do not break or fray easily, providing reliable fastening. Not only is this a key component of shoe quality, but it is also vital to ensuring the shoe closures are not a tripping hazard
Mechanical hazard testing: This type of testing ensures that decorations such as rhinestones or bows, and accessories like buckles and straps, are securely attached and functioning properly to reduce choking and injury risk. These hazards are among the main reasons for recalls of shoe products.
Conductivity testing: This type of test is designed for footwear meant to discharge static electricity from the wearer through shoes into grounded floors. This type of footwear is commonly used in workplaces with a higher risk of electric shock, so this testing ensures the footwear will work as intended and protect the wearer.
Other types of testing assess how well the footwear protects the wearer from impacts, compression, and punctures.
Performance testing in footwear is essential to evaluate the quality and functionality of the products, ensuring they meet the expectations of consumers. Some key types of performance testing of footwear include:
Colorfastness testing: Colorfastness testing evaluates the resistance of footwear colors to fading or bleeding when exposed to various factors like light, water, or chemicals.
Flexibility testing: This test assesses the flexibility of outsole to ensure proper movement and comfort.
Size Fitting testing: This test evaluates the sizing accuracy and fit of the footwear to ensure a comfortable and secure fit for different foot sizes.
Sole Abrasion testing: This test determines the resistance of the sole to abrasion and wear, ensuring the longevity of the footwear.
Weather testing: This testing simulates different weather conditions (e.g., rain, extreme temperatures) to assess the footwear's performance and durability.
Upper durability testing: Simulate daily usage scenarios to ensure that shoe upper materials do not peel or damage.
Performance and safety testing is important for all types of footwear, although some types, such as children’s footwear or personal protective footwear, may have more stringent requirements.
By conducting these performance and safety tests, manufacturers can ensure that their footwear meets the necessary quality standards, reduces the risk of accidents or injuries, and protects both consumers and their brand reputation.
At QIMA, we are experts in footwear laboratory testing, dedicated to helping footwear manufacturers ensure the safety and performance of their products. With our comprehensive lab testing capabilities, global network of labs, and experienced team, we provide accurate and reliable results, enabling manufacturers to address any issues and make informed decisions to enhance the overall quality of their footwear. Partnering with us means mitigating risks, protecting brand reputation, and delivering safe and high-performing footwear to consumers.