Safety shoes are designed to provide the wearer with protection against falling objects, compression or puncture and a number of other hazards. While there are a number of different types of safety footwear which each protect your feet in a slightly different way, pretty much all of them tend to do so with a reinforced toe and mid sole protection.
Steel Toe Footwear
When you think of safety footwear the first thing that springs to people’s minds is steel toe boots and it’s with good reason. Steel toe boots have been around for decades and have become a trusted form of footwear for those working within industrial or hazardous environments. The large plus point of steel toe boots is obviously their durability. They contain a large steel toe cap which helps to protect your feet from any falling objects or compression along with a steel mid sole at the bottom of the boot to protect the wear against punctures from nails and other debris on the ground. On top of the heavy duty protection that steel footwear provides, they also offer a ridged rubber sole which helps aid the in two unique ways; it protects the wearer from electrostatic discharge that could occur from coming into contact with electrical wiring and it also provides the wearer with added slip resistance from floors which could be covered in oil or other slippy substances.
Steel Toe Amputation Myth
One of the drawbacks that put some people off wearing steel toe footwear is a popular urban myth that steel toe footwear is more dangerous than regular boots as the steel components within the footwear can cause amputation. The popular American science entertainment programme “Mythbusters” tested this notion in a variety of different ways and found it to have no substance whatsoever. After carrying out various tests using a guillotine-style toe crusher and an arbor press (with and without a think meta shearing plate attached.) What they found was that in order to achieve any type of amputation they had to mount a blade on to the guillotine at a height of 6 feet and weight of 400 lbs. However, regardless of the footwear worn amputation would still occur and in all of the other tests showed much more damage to the wearers foot when regular boots were worn.
While steel toe footwear may tick a lot of boxes in terms of providing the wearer with high levels of protection, there are some areas where it can be more of a hindrance. In these situations many people tend to opt for composite footwear. While similar in the type of protection it offers to the wearer, composite footwear used synthetic materials such as plastic and carbon fibre to provide the protection for the wearer. This means that composite boots are much more lightweight than steel toe footwear, offering much more ease of movement when worn. As they don’t contain any metal components, they are also ideal for those working within areas where they must first pass through security metal detectors. However, although they offer the same levels of protection upon first impact, tests have shown that subsequent impacts can result in diminished safety performance with the synthetic protection sometimes cracking. As such, composite footwear should be monitored and replaced on a regular basis to ensure optimal levels of protection.
What type of footwear should I wear?
When it comes down to what type of safety footwear you should wear, the main deciding factors should be based around what you industry you work it and the type of hazards you might encounter during your working day. Comfort is another factor which should be included within your decision making process but the other factors must take precedent.
No matter what industry you work in, there is a wide range of specialist safety footwear designed to keep you safe and well protected throughout the working day.