Many people find shopping for safety shoes a daunting task. Use these guidelines to find protective footwear that suits your business or workplace needs.
Finding the right work safety shoes for your job, business, or workers can be a challenge. One question we often get asked is, “How do I know the types of safety shoes to buy?” Because workplace hazards are different, the answer to this question varies and depends on the required protection needs. So, how can you tell if the safety shoes you’re looking at are good enough? What about safety shoes for specific worker needs, what size, and more? Find all the answers in this article!
Finding the Right Work Safety Shoes for Your Job
The right work safety shoes are crucial in any high-risk workplace. They ensure you or your workers remain safe and comfortable on the job. But how do you go about selecting protective shoes for your type of work environment? Here are some guidelines that will help you choose protective footwear for you, your business, or your company.
1. Assess Work Site Hazards
For your work shoes to be effective, they must adequately protect against the risks and hazards in your work environment. So start by assessing the types and levels of these dangers. Examples of workplace risks or hazards include extreme heat, slippery surfaces, sharp objects, rolling or falling things, electrical accidents, and so on. Ask yourself these questions:
- Are you always on your feet all day and need shoes that will properly support you while standing? Or, do you move a lot a need the most lightweight safety shoes?
- What’s on the ground? Wet? Littered with pieces of metal or glass? Is there a risk of slipping or falling and need anti-slip safety shoes? Are sharp objects a concern, such as metal shards and nails or screws and need puncture-resistant safety shoes?
- Are there chemicals that require you to wear chemical-resistant safety shoes? If so, what are their types and concentration levels? Is there molten metal that may contact your feet or extreme temperatures that may cause burns?
- What’s the possible weight of falling or rolling objects and will you want steel toe safety shoes? How high are the temperatures that will require heat-resistant safety shoes? Do you need shoes that protect the metatarsal region?
- Is the terrain uneven and presenting the risk of injury from twists and sprains? Is the ground wet or damp and needing workers to wear-waterproof or water resistant safety shoes? Do workers have problems such as diabetes or plantar fasciitis that may require special shoe features?
- Are there live wires or circuits requiring EH rated safety shoes? Is the workplace prone to static charges that need electrostatic discharge safety shoes?
Armed with your answers to these workplace assessment questions, proceed to the selection process below.
2. Select Work Safety Shoes Based on the Risks
Safety shoes for work environments are typically designed with soles to improve grip or resist heat and punctures, protective toe caps, vamps to stand up to various risks, and more. Now that you understand the hazards to guard against, you can go ahead and choose the kind of features you need in your safety shoes. Here is a table to guide you:
|Type of Hazard||Safety Shoe Features|
|Standing for long hours||Comfortable insole, shock-absorbing heel|
|Falling and rolling things||Toe cap (steel, composite, alloy, etc.)|
|Sharp objects piercing the sole||Anti-penetration midsole (steel, composite, Kevlar)|
|Heel and ankle support||Shock absorbing heel, and lace-up construction|
|Slippery or smooth surfaces||Non-slip soles|
|Chemicals||Chemical resistant materials|
|Molten metal/foundry||Special foundry footwear|
|Extreme temperatures||Proper insulation, heat-resistant material for heat|
|Wet environments||Waterproof and water-resistant materials|
|Risk of cuts||Vamp that can resist cutting|
|Live wires and high voltages||Insulation safety shoes|
|Electrostatic charges||Anti-static and electrostatic discharge safety shoes|
|Metatarsal protection||Special protector for the upper foot|
3. Work Safety Shoes for Specific Environments
In addition to selecting work safety toes based on the criteria of workplace hazards, you can also narrow down your choices by the type of occupation. Different kinds of protective shoes fit different jobs. Examples of common work environments and their safety requirements are listed below.
Safety Shoes for Construction Workers
Safety shoes for construction workers must protect the user from falling objects, slipping, sharp objects and other hazards such as cuts. Apart from being comfortable and fitting, this kind of footwear must be tough and able to offer firm support. Features for construction safety shoes include steel toe cap and midsole, and lace-up construction.
Safety Shoes for Chefs
Chefs work in places where they have to stand for long hours, so they need footwear that uses a comfortable insole and proper heel support. Safety shoes for kitchen environments should also be slip-resistant, heat-resistant, and water-resistant to guard the workers from kitchen liquids.
Safety shoes for Lab Workers
Safety shoes for laboratory workers must be chemical-resistant. Additionally, the shoes should be comfortable (shock-absorbing sole) enough to allow the wearer to stand for extended hours without feeling fatigued. Laboratory safety shoes must also resist slipping and be designed to offer maximum comfort.
Safety Shoes for Welders
Welders’ safety footwear should be heat-resistant, anti-slip and with protective toes to prevent objects from injuring the foot front. Because the job involves working with high voltages, safety shoes for welders also require EH (electrical hazard) protection.
Safety Shoes for Warehouse Workers
Protective footwear for use in warehouses must have these qualities: toe cap protection to shield the feet from falling or rolling objects, anti-slip properties for the sole, anti-static for static charge buildup protection. Safety shoes for warehouse use should also be oil and acid or alkali-resistant.
Safety Shoes for Roofers
Roofer’s safety shoes need to be slip-resistant, water-resistant, and built with a shock-absorbing heel. They should use tough material that can standup to tough conditions and be puncture-proof to prevent sharp objects from piercing the foot of the wearer. Roofing safety shoes or boots should also be properly insulated and breathable to allow working in both hot and cold weathers.
Safety Shoes for Specific Needs
Another important consideration when choosing work safety shoes is selecting footwear for workers who have special foot issues such as plantar fasciitis, arthritis, and diabetes. Safety shoes for plantar fasciitis are. Safety shoes for diabetes are designed to be comfortable and support to prevent foot complications.
4. Other Factors When Choosing Safety Shoes
Safety shoe manufacturers make protective footwear in many different styles and features. Examples include toe type, shoe height, outer sole and vamp material, insole type, sole texture or cleat, and more. There are also custom safety shoes that fit company rules, those that suit the specific needs of employees, and other variations. Use these guidelines when selecting yours:
The Safety Shoe Materials
Ensure also that the vamp is made from either high-quality leather or breathable synthetic materials. Different materials are used for the soles of work safety shoes such as rubber, polyurethane, or EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate). Ensure material properties fit your type of work environment.
Safety Shoe Comfort
Check to see that the lining of work safety shoes is soft, breathable, and without seams. For the toe area, ensure adequate padding and proper design that will allow toe comfort. The heel should fit snugly but without allowing the foot to slip. You may also want to go for removable insoles. They allow you to customize the shoe comfort. The outsole should be flexible, sturdy, and with shock absorption properties.
Safety Shoe Fit
When shopping for work safety shoes, make sure the size is snug but doesn’t feel too tight or have any restrictions or discomfort on the feet. That means choosing an appropriate size based on the wearer’s measurements. If the shoes are poor fitting, they can cause corns, bunions, calluses, and several other foot problems. Such shoes may not also offer the expected protection.
Safety Shoe Height
High-ankle safety shoes or work boots cover more area and better protect your feet from injuries. If you work with heavy objects or hazardous machinery, they make a good choice. Low-cut work safety shoes do not cover the ankles but are less constricting if you spend a lot of time on your feet.
Steel toe vs. Composite Toe
You will need to choose between steel and composite toe safety shoes. Steel toes are sturdier than composite toes, which makes them the best safety shoes for construction workers or warehouse environments. Composite toes are lighter than steel toes, so they are generally favored in less demanding settings.
Lace-up, Slip-on, or Velcro
Depending on your preferred style and ease of use at work, choose between lace up, slip-on, or Velcro fasteners. Other designs include buckles and zippers. Lace-up work safety shoes give you the flexibility to adjust the tightness around the ankles for more comfort. Slip-ons and Velcro are easy to wear and are suitable for less deadening situations such as labs.
Work Safety Shoes Certifications
Think about the different kinds of safety shoes standards and ratings. There are different certifications for slip-resistant soles, puncture-resistant soles, and more- all designed to keep you or your crew safe on the job. Standards for safety shoes vary based on region, as explained below.
Safety Shoes Standards
Ensure work safety shoes meet recognized standards in your country or region. That way, you will be assured of proper protection and workplace safety. Recognized safety shoe standards include the following:
- EN ISO 20345- a standard for safety shoes in European countries
- ASTM- used in the USA and enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA
- CSA- A regional safety shoe standard used in Canada
- SS513- used in Singapore and follows rules almost similar to those of the EN standard.
In the US, OSHA has created specific safety guidelines that protect workers on the job against falls, electrical shock, punctures, burns, and more. These regulations are based on the ASTM standard.
Safety Shoe Ratings
Safety shoe ratings indicate the level of protection offered by the specific type of footwear. Protective footwear is normally rated for impact and compression resistance, slip resistance, and ability to guard against electrical hazards. There are also ratings for waterproofness, puncture resistance, and several other features.
Pick your work safety shoes based on the requirements of the particular workplace or job. Warehouse workers, for example, require safety shoes and work boots that are rated higher for impact resistance than lab workers. That means steel toed safety shoes in most cases.
Buying Your Work Safety Shoes
You’re finally ready to buy safety shoes for your business or job. How do you spot the right safety shoes manufacturers or distributors? What are the price ranges? Here is our advice, regardless of whether you’re looking for safety shoes for workers in your company, for your business, or to wear on the job.
- Make sure you’re only buying from accredited manufacturers. The shoes should also carry the markings for the required safety standards and ratings. To ensure this, it’s advisable to buy branded footwear in addition to the standard markings and ratings.
- The price of worker safety shoes varies depending on style, brand, design and the materials that are used in their construction. The cost is generally higher for higher quality safety shoes.
- Try not to skimp on quality; think about how long you’ll need your work safety shoes for, how often you’ll need to replace them and what features are most important to you. This will help you select the right shoes that provide all-around protection.
Safety is the number one concern for workers at all levels. Always select work safety shoes that meet workplace requirements for both safety and comfort. Keeping these things in mind while you shop will help you find the best possible shoe for your job. So be sure to choose wisely based on the requirements and as advised in this article. Remember, your safety shoes need to be comfortable, protective, and durable.