Top 5 Things to Consider When Choosing the Best Work Boots
Work boots are essential for workplace safety. It is a must, mainly, for those who manage blue collar jobs. Just like every other item available in the market, not all work boots are created equal. There is no single standard for manufacturing these safety shoes. That makes it important for any prospective buyer to weigh down all the options and see which fits right into their needs perfectly. What are your criteria? Below, we have listed the top five considerations that would usher you to the best work boots choice.
Fit & Comfort
Fit is king when it comes to something that you wear. Since work boots fall under that classification, you should pay attention to your level of comfort, which mostly depends on how well they would fit on your feet. If your pair of work boots barely fit, you will feel the pinch after just a few hours of wearing them. This could take a toll on your productivity. This could also put you at risk for foot injuries.
Under comfort, there are three important points:
* Design. This is all about the shape and overall outward appearance of your work boots. Ideally, a comfortable pair of safety shoes have rounded toes, thick and flat soles, and extra padding on key areas (i.e., heel, toe, collar, tongue).
* Material. Leather is the preferred boot material that’s not only guaranteed to offer the best comfort but also durability. It is a strong material; it is also pliable. The best type of leather to make a good, comfortable, durable pair of work boots is the thicker, full-grain kind. Otherwise, if the work boots are made up of the softer kind, it must be reinforced by extra padding or leather strips to make them stand the common wear and tear of regular, heavy use and close in on the difference.
* Insoles. The quality of the insoles of your safety footwear is very important when it comes to comfort. You feel it right as you first slip on the pair. If it feels like tiny pillows are set up to cradle your foot, you are in the right shoe. Insoles provide another layer of comfort, separating your bare foot from the soles. They should be thick but feel springy and light. They should also be made of a moisture-wicking material to keep your foot dry amid getting sweaty from the heavy demands you are mostly up to in the course of fulfilling the demands of your job.
Work boots need to be weatherproof to stand the test of times. It is not always sunny or rainy or freezing cold, whichever part of the world you are in. There are those days when you might get wet, get really sweaty, or get frozen – all while you are in the midst of
performing your job. To keep up, your pair of work boots must be able to deal with the kind of day you are facing. When it is raining and wet all over, you normally need waterproof work boots. When days get really hot and you can get all sweaty, losing concentration on what you are set out to do in the process, you need a pair that’s non-metallic and will not transfer heat. It’s a pair made of a material that’s pliable and lightweight and durable, like leather. When temperatures in your workplace hit low, you need an insulated pair of work boots. Insulation helps keep feet warm from the inside, keeping your toes from freezing out and falling off. Can you get all three features in a single pair? The answer is yes, but it may come with a hefty price tag.
3. Job Type
Another important consideration that should define the best kind of work boots for you is your job type. What you will need it for will give you an idea on which you should put your money on. Are you working in a construction site? Then, you will need something that has midsoles made of steel to keep you from injuries in case you step on a nail or you figure in a similarly dangerous situation. Electricians need a pair of work boots that could protect them against electrical charges. There are those available that could keep you safe for up to 600 volts. Armed men and women who work in the police or military department would ace their jobs if they are in a pair of comfortable and durable pair that will allow them to move freely. A lightweight material that makes flexible movement possible is ideal in this case.
Safety is the point of wearing work boots. That’s exactly why they are also known as safety shoes or safety footwear. There is no sense going for something that look handsome and charming on your feet but will not have even a level of protection against common hazards that exist in your workplace. Safety first, aesthetics last. Put that in mind when considering what kind of work boots to buy.
Of course, there is always the money issue that you cannot simply put aside. Let’s face it, the features that are a must to reinforce the idea of wearing work boots come with a price. If you cannot afford it, all your efforts for discerning go to waste. Then again, since work boots are considered primarily for you to be able to perform well in your job post and earn a living, it is definitely worth investing. The better idea, instead of settling down for a less ideal pair that’s inexpensive, is to save up for the best pair. There is so much at stake here: your safety, your comfort, and your productivity in the work that you need to do.
Your work boots choice can make or break you. When workplace safety is an issue, you will need a good amount of time deciding what fits you perfectly, in all aspects. It will not hurt to be doubly sure because your life – yes, your entire life – is on the line here.
Safety is a top concern in any industry. This buyers guide helps you understand the different safety metrics to check out in a work boot.
An employee may actually need safety shoes only once, but you have to be confident that when that one time occurs, the employee is protected against disabling injury thus reducing workers compensation claims.
Enough Work TM only reviews quality name-brand work boots, to insure that ANSI’s strictest requirements are met.
You know how important safety is. However, not everyone realizes the impact an accident can have on the workplace. These are just a few examples of hidden costs related to losing an employee to an accident that could have been prevented. Obviously, the cost of providing proper footwear pales in the comparison.
Becoming Acquainted with the Work Boot
For industrial lines of work like demolition, workers choose protective steel-toe boots. Photo taken by Washington State Department of Transportation.[/caption]
There’s a boot out there for everyone. Whether you are a construction worker or a lumberjack, manufacturers produce a variety of protective footwear tailored for specific lines of work.
But how does one select a work boot?
Most employers will provide a set of regulations for workplace footwear; however, some may expect you to make your purchase without guidance.
The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) provides a number of minimum requirements for the work boot. Their standards cover the performance of boots and shoes in resisting puncture or chainsaw penetration.
Safety footwear is designed to protect feet against a wide variety of injuries – the most common of which are impact, compression and puncture. This is why it’s important to identify the hazards that will be encountered throughout the workday.
For example, you may want to evaluate the following:
- The materials handled.
- Risks of objects falling onto or striking feet.
- Any material or equipment that might roll over feet.
- Any sharp object that might cut the top of feet.
- Object that may penetrate the bottom or side of the foot.
- Possible exposure to corrosive substances.
- Possible explosive environments – risk of static electrical discharges.
- Risk of electrical discharge damaging sensitive electronic components or equipment.
- Risk of coming into contact with energized conductors of low to moderate voltage.
Also remember to account for injuries that may results from walking on rough terrain or slippery surfaces, extreme hot or cold temperatures, and/or exposure to abrasive machinery. Additionally, remember to consider any exposure to liquids or water that may damage boots or harm feet.
Steel-Toe Versus Composite Toe
Steel-toe boots offer reinforced toes for jobs that work with heavy materials, such as construction workers. As mentioned above, a number of risks would be resolved with these boots. Composed of a single sheet of steel, the reinforced toe safeguards against punctures and falling objects.
Composite toe boots are also reinforced, but instead of a steel composition, they are produced from composite materials, or plastics like thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). Composite materials are made from two or more materials with significantly different physical or chemical properties. Composite toe boots are 50 percent lighter and resist extreme cold and heat. They are as strong as steel.
Styles of Work Boots
Careers of the outdoor variety will require a waterproof or water-resistant boots to keep feet dry. For example, forestry employees, back-country guides, or park rangers might find these boots useful.
- Electrical hazard boots have insulation that protects the wearer from electrical charges up to 600 volts. Those who work with electricity, such as linemen, electricians, and inside wiremen, should consider these work boots.
- Slip-resistant boots have special soles that provide traction on wet or oily floors. People who work in auto body shops or in factories may want to invest in a pair of these.
- Insulated boots keep feet toasty during frosty conditions. Lined with materials to keep feet warm, the boot has a bit more weight to it. They are ideal for those who work in cold conditions, such as employees of refrigerated warehouses, ice road truckers or anyone who has to work outside during the winter.
Work Boot Symbols Revealed
If you have figured out what you are looking for in a boot, how do you know if they have these characteristics? The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety offer some helpful advice on identifying symbols. The symbols are the same throughout the North American continent, so they are applicable to many U.S. boots.
- The green triangle signifies a puncture protection of Grade 1 protective toe, ideal for any industrial or heavy work environment, including construction, where sharp objects are present.
- Yellow triangle means the boots have puncture protection in the sole and Grade 2 protection toe. Those employed in light industrial work, such as warehouse workers, would wear this boot.
- The white rectangle with the omega symbol indicates that the boot has soles that provide electric shock resistance. If an industrial worker may come into contact with live electrical conductors, they should look for boots with electric shock protection.
- A yellow rectangle with green letters SD and a grounding symbol signifies the soles are static dissipative. Boots with this characteristic should be worn in industrial environments where a static discharge may harm workers or equipment.
- A red rectangle with a black letter C indicates the footwear has soles that are electronically conductive. These boots should be considered when the workers may come into contact with low-power electrical charges that could be a hazard for workers or equipment.
- The white label with a green fir tree means that the footwear provides protection against chainsaws, which is ideal for forestry workers and others who work with or around hand-held chainsaws and other cutting tools.
- A blue rectangle signifies a Grade 1 toe with no protective sole that is ideal for industrial work that does not require puncture protection.
- The grey rectangle indicates that the footwear has a Grade 2 toe with no protective sole. Those in an institutional or non-industrial line of work and do not require puncture protection should buy this style of boot.
Internal Protection Codes
Additional markings that indicate the level of protection will be found on the boots. They include:
- 1 or 2 will indicate a Grade 1 or Grade 2 toe protection (0 if not present).
- P for puncture-resistant soles (0 if not present).
- M for metatarsal protection (0 if not present).
- E for shock-resistant sole, S for static dissipative sole or C for conductive sole (0 if not present).
- X for chainsaw protection (0 if not protection).