Have you heard the old joke:

“We have FOUR seasons here….Fall, Winter, Spring and CONSTRUCTION.“

Well, the upswing in temperatures also provides a greater need for work gear as the temporary labour market scrambles to find men (and women) to top up their muscles for development and renovation projects.

We are currently in need of steel-toed boot donations which can be dropped off at our shop located at 520 Powell Street in Vancouver, on Saturdays from 10AM to 12 noon, or on Wednesday & Thursday evenings from 6PM to 8PM.

Change, Change, Change. I love it, don’t you? Change encourages a playful curiosity and calm introspection on the positive differences we as humans can make. Inventions or simply lending our imagination to bettering the lives of the workers that call construction a part of daily life is a productive curiosity. Worksite lifes is one subject our volunteers at Working Gear often hold in close regard.

So indulge me with your attention as we look back at work history.

Changes to Safety Thru Gear


We all know of these now commonplace innovations to personal safety but you may be surprised to learn that the road to the modern workboots was developed over two centuries. 

The 1800s -1900s Workers used to wear leather boots or wooden clogs with leather soles and uppers hand-sewn together.  A tedious job.

1910 Dr. F. Rampichini modernized shoemaking by using an adhesive to durably cement leather to leather. He called the method “Another great opportunity”, AGO.  It sure was.

The 1930s, due to liability costs, large companies started focusing on having equipment that is safer and Red Wing Shoe Company’s innovators started dealing in steel-toe boots. 

1945 Steel toe cap boots were designed at the end of World War II in Germany. 

The 1960s offered several work boot varieties of steel toe footwear. Particularly popular were the Grinders and Dr. Martens among the Skinheads. 

1970 brought us legislation that was aimed at ensuring that workers operated in a safe environment.  Known to us as the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

1971 The United Kingdom established slip resistance standards for testing. 

The 1980s and 1990s Riverhead and Punk subcultures brought steel toes back into fashion. Workboots became non-work options.

1992 UK regulations placed the responsibility on employers to ensure employees are provided with appropriate Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) andnonfatal injuries soon fell by 70 percent.

1998 Wicking fabric (a synthetic knit fabric) was invented by Robert Kasdan and Stanley Kornblum (USA). 

2005 fatalities in the construction industry fell to a record low.

2006 Testing standards on footwear for firefighters was common practice. There were standards for general use, firefighting duty, and when working with hazardous materials.


All this by people who simply imagined a better life for workers and found the opportunity to make it happen.


When I look at modern work gear, I am fascinated. Technology has made a notable difference. Working Gear has a special appreciation of work boots, and an ongoing attention to attract these essential donations.  So what has changed? Plenty.


Carbon safety toes

A carbon toe meets all the same safety standards as a steel toe but is significantly lighter and does not conduct heat.

Abrasion-resistant outsoles

Worker safety increases with the durability of the boot. So outsoles with Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), either pads or the entire outsole can last up to 3 months more.


Some workers need to wear their boots inside and outside. Some tend to wear them on and off-site. So moisture-wicking products increase air circulation to provide cooler, drier comfort, longer.


Slip-resistance features are important in work environments where gripping is compromised by an already risky environment. 

Anti-fatigue technology

Integrated into the pads of the wedge outsole, or as an addition to footbeds. This technology provides cushioning, promotes flexibility and stabilize the boot. 

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