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Don’t take the risk!

A new intensive workshop programme for SATRA members enables effective risk assessment of products.

by Phil Shaw & Mark Southam

Image © Nina Vaclavova |

Today’s consumer legislation helps to minimise the number of faulty or dangerous products reaching the market. However, there is still a significant level of consumer complaints about footwear – complaints that can be both costly and time consuming to resolve.

Consumer product legislation requires a product to be safe and fit for purpose. The responsibility for this lies with the company or the person who brings the product to the market – usually the retailer.
Regulations aim to ensure that there is a general safety requirement for all products placed on the market – or otherwise supplied or made available to consumers. In other words, all products supplied to the general public or available for their own use must be safe.

The product should remain safe throughout its lifetime and should be traceable to individual batches or production lots, in order to allow recall or traceability of an unsafe product.

An expensive break

Heel breakage can be particularly dangerous, and may lead to an expensive outcome. On the morning of her wedding day, the heel on one bride’s shoe suddenly broke while she was walking downstairs. As well as a painful injury to the bride from the fall and the consequent medical attention, the wedding was postponed.

The footwear supplier faced the cost of the rescheduled service and the reception, and the travel and accommodation for many of the guests (some of whom travelled from abroad for the wedding), as well as the photographer, flowers and hairdressers. There was also a claim for compensation for the injury and distress suffered by the wearer.

Image © Nina Vaclavova |

A footwear supplier faced a considerable financial settlement when the heel on a bride’s shoe broke

The result was a settlement in excess of £100,000 ($164,000), as well as the attendant publicity and loss of goodwill to the brand.

The risk of sporting injuries

Athletic footwear is purchased and worn by a wide variety of people, not all of them for sporting activities. However, where serious sport is involved, so is the risk of damage to the wearer. Sports footwear can offer a range of benefits to sportspeople, including protection, grip and increased performance.

If the product does not live up to the supplier’s claims and the wearer’s performance is affected adversely, the outcome could be a costly and damaging settlement.

Professional footballers often earn high wages, and their continued absence due to an injury can represent a significant cost to the club. In an extreme case, a career-threatening injury may lead to a prolonged loss of earnings, as well as a claim of lack of success for the entire team.

Image © Diademimages |

Any financial claim against a supplier of sports footwear could be significant and also cause considerable damage to the brand

Any claim against the supplier of sports footwear can be for a significant sum of money and might possibly lead to a change of sponsorship. In a case such as this, the damage to the brand could be huge.

One-day course

Most of the performance and quality issues that we see during product testing could have been identified much earlier in the development phase of a new style, if the relevant personnel had carried out a systematic and rigorous risk assessment. Footwear engineering personnel can learn the techniques and knowledge necessary to perform such an assessment. Trained members of staff, working to a set of company or industry guidelines and assessing the potential risk to the performance of new footwear products, represent the most cost-effective way of minimising any damaging and costly customer issues – providing that the appropriate action is taken to eliminate the risks identified.

To meet this need, SATRA has introduced a one-day course which provides the relevant information and practises the techniques. The programme covers a range of topics, including:

Delegates will also examine relevant examples and have an opportunity to risk assess their own products.
Practical work is an important element of the course. Participants will not only be able to assess examples of their own products, but also gain a working knowledge of how to continue this approach for all future new styles.

How can we help?

Please email for more information on the programme and schedule of this new product risk assessment course.

Publishing Data

This article was originally published on page 40 of the July/August 2011 issue of SATRA Bulletin.

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