Last updated on October 25th, 2018 at 09:33 am
Knowing what shoes to wear can be stressful at the best of times but when it comes to choosing safety footwear for work it’s easy to be bamboozled by all the different styles out there and we want to help you choose the right footwear for you. We have done our research and put together as much information as possible to help picking our safety shoes that little bit easier. From the different styles of shoes and boots to the perfect styles to suit your job, we have it covered. So if there’s a boot or shoe you want to read more about, or you’re simply looking for some advice, then read on…
What Are Safety Shoes?
Safety shoes and boots are durable footwear with a protective re-enforced toe which helps protects the foot against falling debris, compression and now with the majority of safety footwear fitted with a mid-sole plate to protect from under foot punctures, they really are designed for optimum safety. They are normally worn in and around a construction site or industrial setting and they very often have steel as their toe cap however nowadays there are more styles which use composite materials. All safety boots come with markings to which indicate their international standards and levels of protection from impact, electric shock to chemical hazards. Back in the 1970’s safety boots were seen as the footwear amongst skinheads and punks, however nowadays it seems they are strictly for work-wear and not fashion wear.
What Are The Different Styles Of Safety Shoes?
There is a huge range of safety footwear on the market nowadays so choosing the right one can be a bit of a daunting task. Metatarsal Safety Shoes offer foot protection where it is needed most with a protective guard. The metatarsal bones in your feet form two arches, one in the centre of your foot and the other under the ball of your foot; these are extremely delicate bones so keeping them protected is essential.
More and more people are moving towards Composite Safety Shoes or Comp Toe’s as they are known as they are more lightweight compared to steel toe caps. They are really suited for working in electrical and hazardous environments and are made up from a range of composite materials including plastic and carbon fibre.
Another of the better known safety shoes out there are ESD’s or Electro Static Dissipative Shoes. If you’re working in an environment with electrostatic build-up then these are the shoes for you. They help reduce the flow of electricity through the shoe to the ground therefore significantly reducing the risk of electrocution.
Safety footwear is split into several different categories. Each category has an identification code; all footwear must be marked with the relevant code. It must also comply with the EC Directive for Personal Protective Equipment and meet the necessary requirements of the European standards.
Here are the New European Standards for Safety Footwear–
EN-ISO 20344:2011 – Personal Protective Equipment
EN-ISO 20345:2011 – Personal Protective Equipment- Safety Footwear
EN-ISO 20347:2007 – Personal Protective Equipment- Occupational Footwear
EN-ISO 13287:2006 – Personal Protective Equipment- Slip Resistant
EN-ISO 15090:2012 – Personal Protective Equipment- Footwear for Firemen
EN-ISO 17249:2004 – Personal Protective Equipment- Cut Resistant
EN-ISO 20349:2010 – Personal Protective Equipment- Thermal Risks and Welding
Who Should Wear Safety Shoes?
There are a huge range of jobs out there that require a safety shoe or boot so what works best for each job? We have put together our own guide to help you make the right choice when it comes to your safety.
Working as a Civil Engineer you will have to take time out to visit sites and so a good pair of steel toe cap boots would be perfect for you to have in the car. With a steel toe and midsole to protect feet, as well as firm grip sole and a padded collar they really are an all-rounder that is still more popular than ever. Don’t forget if it is something a bit lighter you are after a composite boot will work just as well.
If you are an Engineer then you may find a classic steel toe cap works for you too, however it can sometimes help to have a bit more protection. A composite safety boot is as durable as a steel toe cap, made up of composite materials it really is a lightweight boot making moving around a lot easier. A boot with a metatarsal gel support will also help protect those delicate bones in your feet.
Working in Construction can be tiring and damaging to your feet. Give your feet the best possible care by wearing a pair of metatarsal safety shoes, these will protect the fragile bones in your feet, a good old steel toe cap with steel mid sole will also help protect feet from any debris or punctures, meaning you can get on with the job in hand.
Safety footwear for Electricians has never been so good with lots of styles to choose from you can be sure your feet will be well protected. Electro Static Dissipative shoes will do the job of dispersing electrical currents reducing the risk of an electric shock. However, a composite boot with a well-insulated sole will do the job too, with less or no metal included the electrical current will have no conductor to pass through.
For those who work in an Industrial Environment pair of good steel toe cap boots which are both water and heat resistant will do the job. Choose from an ankle boot style to a longer leg style depending on the protection you need. Many come with a shock absorbing sole and padded collar for added protection.
You might think that working in an Office Environment you wouldn’t need to use safety footwear however the occasion may arise from time to time when you need to use them. Choose some oxford style steel toe cap shoes, not only do they look like a normal smart office shoe they will do a great job at protecting feet as and when you need them to.
Types Of Safety Shoes:
As mentioned previously the different types and styles of safety footwear are endless and so it can be a bit confusing when it comes to choosing the style that is right for you and your job. We have gone in search of as many different styles as we possibly could to bring you as much useful information as possible. So get ready as we work our way through them….
With composite safety shoes becoming more popular one of the key things to remember is to choose a pair that includes the fibre Kevlar. Kevlar is a lightweight and flexible fibre that is used in the midsoles and toes of composite safety shoes protecting your feet from punctures. Kevlar is less conductive than steel meaning even in the coldest of Winters your feet are kept warm.
A lot of people may be worried about the damage that working in construction or engineering will have on their feet in the long run so it is imperative to choose the right shoes now. Safety shoes with a metatarsal guard are perfect for protecting the delicate bones in the feet. Made from aluminium, steel or lightweight composites they form a guard over your foot to protect against compression or falling debris.
Safety shoes with ESD (Electro Static Dissipative) are really great if you work in an electronics, communications or telecommunications environment. They offer full protection against electric shocks and are super resilient enough to be classed as a fantastic safety boot. Choosing a style with a Vibram sole is also a good idea as they have a high electrical hazard rating.
Support is a massive factor when it comes to choosing the right safety boot for you and ankle support is massively important when you’re on your feet for most of the day. An ankle support helps protect against sprains and other damage. If you are after a bit more support around the ankle choose a longer leg boot or a safety boot with a good quality padded collar.
Toe protection is probably the most important thing when it comes to choosing your safety footwear; they are not called steel toe caps for nothing now are they? There are a few different types you can choose from composite toes made up of strong fibres and materials, to plastics and not forgetting the trusty steel toe cap.
Steel plates are included in a lot of different safety styles nowadays and are a welcome feature when working in a busy industrial or construction environment. These plates are generally placed in the mid-sole of the boot or shoe, therefore making the shoe or boot resistant to underfoot punctures.
A good quality safety boot will more than often have what we call a Vibram sole, these are made from a high performance compound that is perfect for those of you working in an building or industrial environment. They are extremely durable, have superior strength and are engineered to be heat, flame and oil resistant. With a fantastic grip too they really do help you get on with work.
Now you’ve found the right safety boot or shoe you might want to turn your mind to fastenings. Lace ups, Velcro or Slip on? Decisions, decisions! Slip on and Velcro are fantastic for getting on and off in a hurry, great for when you are going on and off site. However zip and lace up styles offer that bit more stability.
Caring For Safety Shoes:
Safety footwear can be quite pricey which is why it is important to look after yours and keep them in tip top condition. They are an investment piece that you are going to use every day so follow our top tips to improving the lifespan of your safety footwear.
Not all safety footwear is waterproof however buying a water resistant spray and coating your boots can vastly improve their longevity.If your safety footwear is leather then it really is vital you look after it. Use a polish or leather conditioner to keep them in good condition. The leather should feel somewhere between oversaturated and bone dry.
If you get your boots dirty then as soon as you get in from work give them a good scrub with a damp cloth. Mud and dust particles can really damage the surface of your boots. Get into a nightly routine and it won’t seem like such a chore.
Buff away any scuff marks or stains with a damp cloth and soap, try not to be too harsh on the boot’s surface so sticking to a cloth will reduce any lasting damage if a cloth is not working then use a soft brush or an old toothbrush instead.
If your safety footwear is suede use a good solid brush to buff away marks and dirt, be sure to use products specifically for suede as to not ruin your footwear and make sure you dry them in a warm place.
Always store boots in a warm and dry place, you do not want to leave them out in the cold or rain and if boots are new be sure to wear them a few times around the house first to break them in.
So there we have it, our complete guide to safety footwear. So whether you’re looking to replace your current style or looking for purchase your first ever pair be sure to read our top tips. With so many styles out there the key is to narrow down what you really want from your safety footwear. Don’t be afraid to do your research and ask if you have any concerns.