How Do Safety Boots Protect You At Work?

27/01/2016

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.

Composite Footwear

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.

  • Steel Toe Boots & Rigger Boots: If you work within an industrial setting such as on a construction site, a builder’s yard or any other trade profession, then steel toe boots or shoes are going to be an absolute must. While shoes and standard safety boots will most likely provide you with adequate levels of protection, many opt for rigger boots as they are much more durable and long lasting than some other boots.
  • Composite Footwear: If you work within areas of high electrical activity such as those found within the profession of an electrical engineer, then composite footwear may be the optimal choice as the use of non-metal boots are going to greatly reduce any chance of electrical conduction.
  • Safety Wellington Boots: If you work outdoors in areas with high rainfall and generally poor weather conditions then safety wellington boots will be the protective footwear option that serves you best. On top of the traditional protection that other safety footwear also offers, safety wellies are going to help to keep your feel dry and insulated when working in wet or cold conditions.
  • Safety Clogs & Sandals: While you traditionally don’t think of this type of footwear as suitable for keeping you protected at work, you can pick up a few pairs of safety clogs or sandals. However, these aren't meant to be work in an industrial setting by any means and should only be used within hospitality environment or one with an importance on cleanliness. Their designs offer incorporate open backs for a comfortable fit as well as a lightweight polyurethane outsole which is developed to be self-cleaning and prevent lodging in the sole that may result in cross contamination.

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.