Category Archives: Asphalt Workers

Do Asphalt Pavers Really Need Special Asphalt Work Boots?

Everybody needs to make a living, right? If you’re sitting here reading this from behind a desk in a comfortable office chair, you may have no idea what asphalt pavers go through. But I suspect if you reached this page, you probably do know what life as an asphalt paver entails, whether you’re part of a pave crew yourself or supplying workers with the tools and gear they need to do their jobs.

Asphalt paving is exhausting, harrowing and often thankless. The unfavorable conditions include crews working with molten tar that reaches superficial temps of up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s almost hot enough to bake a pie and definitely warm enough to slow cook a roast. You don’t want your feet to get cooked like Sunday’s dinner, right?
Workers must take frequent breaks to permit their hot feet to cool off — and even that may not prevent heat blisters. Double layered socks and special asphalt boots can protect the feet by creating manual insulation.

Enter COFRA Asphalt Boots

COFRA safety boots have been manufactured in Italy since the 1930s, but only recently came to save the feet of U.S. road paving crews.

Just a few years ago, at the Association of Safety Engineers (ASSE) trade show in Chicago, North American distributors showcased the COFRA boots. Neither elegant to look at nor glamorous to use, these asphalt boots aren’t the first things that come to mind when you think Italian footwear. But watching them in action was another story.

In the demonstration, which kept trade show attendees captivated, the asphalt boot appeared to radiate heat rather than absorb it. Asphalt workers need no longer fear “hot foot,” and can work as if they were standing on normal pavement.

You could get by with standard workboots for asphalt paving, taking frequent breaks and still risking hot foot, not to mention buying new boots every few weeks. A disproportionate amount of road pavers’ salaries go toward work gear, and especially asphalt boots.

Asphalt Pavers in Italy Eat Pizza for Lunch

Italy is a land of diversity. Choose your adjective and it can fit. As you walk the streets of Italy, you’ll experience culture, refinement, love, abundance, and also the darker, nitty-gritty side of life. But let’s take a look, not at the Italian culture, but about those actual streets, and the asphalt pavers who not only walk those streets, but brought them into existence. They toiled dawn to dusk, dusk to dawn and back to dusk again to form the shapes we tread on every single day and night. Let us take a glimpse at what they do, how they do it and their surroundings.

Let’ explore the technical aspects of their work, first. Road construction is a very structured and step-by-step process that, when looked from outside, appears quite cumbersome and cloggy but, in fact, is quite the opposite. There are very specific tasks assigned to each department and all the departments are very carefully distributed and dispersed. Giant trucks bring in raw materials, coal, petroleum and other products from source spots to the work zones. The carrier labors handle the unloading and spotting. This is the time when the tarmacs are burned and melted in the tremendous heat inside the giant burners. Then come the asphalt pavers who get down to do the real, hands-on work, after the workable tar is brought to them.

The chief variety of asphalt that Italian asphalt pavers use is a mixture they call conglomerati bituminosi, the hot mix. The upper level is called strato di usura, or the wearing surface. The second level is called the intermediate or connecting level and, finally, there is the base level. This is a high quality tarmac, most often used for the roads that are planned to connect significant places or locations. It does not wear off easily and once built, the roads last decades.

Asphalt Pavers: Tools of the Trade
To realize what asphalt pavers go through every day, you have to remember this important point: their work is done while standing on molten tarmac. It’s tough to even conceive how much heat that entails — 300 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit or more … enough to cook a pizza!

This cracking heat, combined with the rough surfaces of unmade roads, creates an infernal surface for them to tread on. That is why they use special footwear called asphalt boots. And Italian pavers always prefer Cofra Italian Asphalt Paver Shoes.

General estimation is that no matter how excellent a shoe is, it will not last the infernal brutality of the smelted pitch for more than two weeks. But in reality, due to the harsh and extreme work conditions, asphalt pavers cannot work for too many days at a stretch. On the ob, they take frequent breaks to protect and rest their feet. With this type of use, a pair of asphalt boots can remain serviceable for at least six to nine months. The right boots keep Italian asphalt pavers safe and comfortable and in the long run, save money, too.