A myriad of strict regulations governs the import and sale of footwear in the world’s developed nations to protect consumers, clothing brands and the environment. The European Union and most other countries with healthy consumer markets enforce similar trade laws and legislation concerning footwear testing methods and quality control.
Footwear manufacturers, suppliers, and retailers are responsible for ensuring their products meet the requirements of commerce departments and health authorities in the countries where they choose to sell them.
Whether the market for your footwear is in the EU, the United Arab Emirates, Asia, the United States, Australia, Japan, or other countries, you’ll have to prove that testing has been carried out on your products to ensure they meet the legal requirements of your destination market. Failing to do that may result in your shipment being rejected, while you may face fines on top of the cost of your product recall.
These laws and legislation require third-party testing of footwear to ensure the products meet all the requirements. At QIMA’s laboratories, we carry out a variety of tests required to qualify footwear for the appropriate certification pertaining to each country’s regulations.
You should be aware that requirements may be different for footwear designed for children or for the workplace, compared to footwear intended for the average adult consumer. Additionally, different agencies are usually responsible for specific aspects of the legislation.
Each country has its own agencies to oversee these directives and the necessary footwear testing requirements. For example, footwear compliance requirements for the United States fall under the following agencies and departments:
|Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)||Children’s footwear; hazardous substances|
|Customs and Border Protection (CBP)||Country of origin for most imported products|
|Federal Trade Commission (FTC)||Labeling|
|Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA)||Protective footwear|
|United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)||Organic claims|
The European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) are the watchdogs for illicit trade in counterfeit goods. They monitor all forms of transport shipping goods into the EU, from small parcel services to container services.
Counterfeit footwear is among the top-ranking illicit goods seized by European customs departments, and numerous court cases have been brought against those importers over the past few years.
Testing footwear for chemicals used in manufacturing and shipping is an essential step that manufacturers and suppliers must take to ensure their products satisfy consumer health and safety regulations regarding restrictions of certain toxic chemicals.REACH Restrictions on Chemicals in Footwear
More than 20 toxic aromatic amines derived from Azo dyes commonly used in the manufacturing of fabrics for footwear and other textiles are severely restricted by the EU’s REACH directives. The limit for aromatic amines is 30 mg/kg (0.003% by weight) for each article.DMF Testing for Footwear
Dimethyl fumarate (DMF) is a volatile chemical commonly added to desiccant sachets (silica bags) placed in footwear packaging by manufacturers as an antifungal agent to prevent molds from growing on the product while being stored or transported.
However, due to its toxicity – DMF can cause allergic reactions, acute eczema, and skin burns – the substance is banned in products placed on the EU market under Directive 2009/251/EC.
Therefore, suppliers of footwear to EU markets should have DMF tests carried out on product samples to ensure no traces of DMF are found, in order to avoid the risk of product recalls or rejection by EU customs and health authorities.
Click here for more information about QIMA’s DMF testing services for footwear and other textiles.
Product labels, especially for clothes, shoes and other items that will come in close contact with the skin must contain accurate information about the composition of the materials used in the product. Natural and synthetic fibers must be differentiated and labeled as such, especially for leather, cotton, wool, silk, linen, nylon polyester and others.
Here are some of the testing methods used for testing footwear according to ISO standards, to ensure safety and quality requirements are met. They also pertain to personal protective equipment (PPE) used in the workplace.1. Impact Resistance
This test determines the strength of the footwear’s toe cap and its resistance to a weight being dropped on it. Testing is carried out in stages, and the clearance space remaining in the cap after the drop tests is measured. The following standards are part of the test:
A secondary test for the toe cap that determines the shoe's capacity to protect the toe area from heavy rolling objects (compression). The toe cap area is compressed between two plates at a predetermined rate of speed and force, then the clearance space remaining in the cap is measured.3. Metatarsal Protection
Up from the toe area on the top of the foot are the metatarsal bones. Protection of this area in safety shoes uses either internal or external metatarsal guards. Testing the footwear for metatarsal protection is done by fitting a wax form into the footwear, after which a weight is dropped onto the protected metatarsal area. The height of the wax form is then measured.4. Puncture Resistance
This test determines the strength of steel or puncture-resistant material in the outsole of protective footwear, which is designed to prevent sharp objects, such as nails, glass or metal, injuring the foot. The test is carried out by forcing a sharp steel pin into the footwear, measuring the force and speed of the pin. The test includes testing the protective material for flexibility and corrosion resistance.5. Electric Shock Resistance
This is for testing footwear specifically designed for protecting the wearer from electric shock. The testing is carried out by placing the footwear on a metal platform (electrode) and filling the shoe with small metal spheres, among which another electrode is placed. A high-voltage current is applied to the footwear for a certain period, and resistance or leakage is measured.6. Static Dissipation
Footwear designed to reduce the risk of conducting a charge of static electricity from the body to the ground is tested with a static dissipation standard. The footwear is either worn by human subjects, or metal spheres are placed inside it, after which the shoe is put in contact with an electrode plate. Wet and dry conditions are tested with a specified voltage applied for a specific period of time.7. Conductivity
This is for testing footwear that’s designed to discharge static electricity from the wearer’s body through shoes into grounded floors. This kind of footwear is used in workplaces where the risk of igniting volatile chemicals or explosives is dramatically reduced. The conductivity test is carried out by placing the footwear filled with small metal spheres on an electrode plate.
A second electrode is placed among the spheres and a voltage is applied for a specific time to measure the electrical resistance.
QIMA labs are fully accredited and equipped to carry out the full range of chemical and physical tests for footwear to meet international standards, including CPSIA and REACH directives.
QIMA’s lab testing services help businesses in over 120 countries secure quality and safety in their products. Learn more about our testing coverage here.Rapid Turnaround on Testing
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