Safety shoes protect you from multiple hazards on the job site. They are imperative to wearing safety equipment while working with heavy objects and machinery. Depending on your industry, there is a specific safety shoe that can better protect you from the hazardous conditions that your job will entail.
As being indispensable for foot protection, safety shoes have unique characteristics such as non-slip soles, anti-perforation, anti-crushing, or ultimate breathability. Safety shoes are an obligation of the employer. So, how to choose safety shoes with the right type of protective toe caps? There are five primary features that you should consider.
Safety Toe Caps are designed to protect your toes from being exposed to any hazards on the worksite. If you are working with heavy machinery, dropping heavy objects, or generally in a high-hazard environment then Safety Toe Caps will be necessary for the protection of your feet.
There are three types of safety toe caps: Half Covers, Full Covers, and Felt Panel Cover. Each type of Safety Toe Cap is designed for different types of hazards and occupations; it’s important to remember this when deciding what type is right for you.
The Half Covers: These covers shield just the top half (the toes) of your foot in case something spills or drops onto them while you’re working. They also help protect your toes from falling objects
The Full Covers: These covers provide protection for the top of your foot, all the way to the back of your heel. They are typically used for occupations that involve working around heavy machinery or other types of high energy sources that may cause sparks to fly off and slap against your feet (i.e: welding). These are most often used in conjunction with steel toe boots. Full Covers also provide protection from heat, sparks, and chemicals.
The Felt Panel Covers: These cover the bottom half of your foot and are designed to protect you from sharp objects. They also help with heat and chemical protection.
3rd Option: Light Lounging Shoes (manmade materials only): Lightweight manmade materials offer the same level of protection as steel toe boots.
Table of Contents
- What Are Safety Shoes?
- Choose Your Safety Shoes According to the Business Risks
- Types of Safety Shoes
- Types of Steel Toe Boots
- Safety Toe Caps for Shoes
- Standards Governing Safety Shoes
- PPE: The Criteria for Choosing Not to Injure Your Feet
- 4 Tips And Tricks to Relax, Soften And Enlarge Your Safety Shoes
- Aesthetically Pleasing
What Are Safety Shoes?
In terms of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) par excellence, most comfortable safety shoes are subject to specific regulations and must meet standards that guarantee their quality. Foot injuries represent around 7% of work accidents such as penetration of foreign bodies into the arch of the foot (example of spikes on site), laceration or crushing (accident with lifting gear), or slipping.
Safety shoes are necessary for the prevention of any risky situation to guarantee the protection of the worker’s foot and should be chosen in close relation to the operator’s duties.
Recommended and governed by the Labor Code by default and by collective agreements, their wearing is obligatory and any not made available by the employer is punishable by the labor inspectorate.
Choose Your Safety Shoes According to the Business Risks
Depending on the needs, safety shoes guarantee protection against crushing, perforation, chemical, thermal, biological, and mechanical risks. The ergonomics of safety shoes also depend on risky situations in the workplace.
Available in different models, safety shoes have specific protections relating to the function of the operator such as mason, carpenter, joiner, locksmith, welder, electrician, machine operator, lumberjack, factory employee, and laboratory.
Because of one profession, it can require the operator to wear safety shoes, safety boots, or even regular shoes. The type of footwear is determined by the collective agreements governing the trade.
Beyond the recommendations by labor legislation, it is necessary to adapt your safety shoes to your job. While it makes sense for a carpenter to wear safety shoes with anti-puncture soles and a pump attendant to wear safety shoes with non-slip soles, common sense reflexes can be observed.
Types of Safety Shoes
Several standards for safety footwear tell you if they are right for your type of work. For professional use, the generalized standard is EN 20 345. An EN 20 345 safety shoe always has a safety cap offering a resistance of 200 joules for falling objects of 20 kg at one meter in height. Several characteristics can be added to this standard:
- A: Antistatic
- CI: Cold insulation
- CR: Cut-resistant
- E: Energy and shock-absorbing heel
- FO: Hydrocarbon resistant sole
- HI: Heat insulation
- HRO: Contact heat resistant contact sole
- P: Sole anti-perforation
- S: Shoe with toe cap resistant to 200 joules
- SRC: Non- slip sole
- WR: Water repellent
- WRU: Water repellent upper
To make it easier to read all these characteristics, we have grouped them into categories: S1, S1P, S2, or S3.
- An S1 model will combine an antistatic sole. It is resistant to hydrocarbons, with energy and a shock-absorbing heel.
- An S1P model will combine an antistatic sole. It is resistant to hydrocarbons, with energy and shock absorbing heel and an anti-perforation sole.
- An S2 model will feature an antistatic sole. It is resistant to hydrocarbons, with energy and a shock-absorbing heel, and a water repellent upper.
- An S3 model will combine an antistatic sole. It is resistant to hydrocarbons, with an energy and shock absorbing heel, a water-repellent upper, and an anti-perforation sole.
Types of Steel Toe Boots
There are also safety boots. They are ideal for working in green spaces or the woods. Steel toe boots can be available for a problem in the building, protecting us even better against humidity and cold.
- Steel toe: the steel toe is the traditional choice that has the characteristic of being slightly heavier and more compact. see more tips for steel toe boots here.
- Aluminum toe cap: the aluminum version offers another choice for lightweight protection while meeting the safety standards required by law. They are thicker than the steel grade and are a great option for those looking for lightness. It is the reason we invite you to look at lightweight safety shoes.
- Composite toe cap: they are typically available for carbon fiber, plastic, or Kevlar. They comply with safety requirements and are lighter than steel, but are typically a little thicker, so they have a more voluminous shape. The composite toe cap does not transfer cold or heat because they are nonmetallic. The composite toe work boots offer a great safety option for those working in an environment that must remain metal-free.
See also: Steel Toe VS Composite Toe Work Boots
Safety Toe Caps for Shoes
We should not go to a site, to a factory, or warehouses without being properly protected as our physical integrity is at stake. The feet are a sensitive part of the body and must be the subject of special attention. So, it is necessary to choose the safety toe caps for shoes that will accompany us in our workplace.
Ask yourself a few questions, whether about the need for mobility, the type of dangers incurred, or the weather. Then choose safety toe caps for shoes that meet the standards.
We will first choose a pair of safety shoes related to our work environment. If you stay indoors in a dry place, whether you work in the food industry, it will be easier to move towards safety shoes that meet S1 standards. They will often be lighter, lower, with anti-per spirant insoles.
The S2s are more waterproof and will allow us to venture further outside without reaching sites that are too muddy or too hilly. Waterproof work boots are ideal more by carpenters or people in charge of maintenance or working in the arrangement.
Finally, the S3 with an anti-perforation sole and crampons to prevent slipping will be essential on the terrain in poor condition. It is also advisable to choose a top model that not only protects us from humidity but correctly maintains the ankle to prevent twisting.
Standards Governing Safety Shoes
Standards are a guarantee of quality. To choose the right safety shoes, it is necessary to consider the profession and its function. You can refer to the recommendations of labor legislation and match your needs for safety standards. The standard governing safety shoes are EN 345, and it comes in three degrees of protection.
EN 345 S1
EN 345 S1 brings together safety shoe leather and other materials (except rubber and other polymers). S1 safety shoes meet basic requirements. They come with protective caps resistant to impact with an energy of 200 joules and a crushing of 15 kN. The rear is closed and they benefit from antistatic properties and shock absorption in the heel.
EN 345 S2
EN 345 S2 incorporates the requirements for S1 footwear. S2 shoes (or S4 for polymer shoes) also feature an upper that is resistant to penetration and water absorption.
EN 345 S3
EN 345 S3 has the basic requirements of S2 shoes (or S5 for polymer shoes). In addition, S3 shoes benefit from anti-perforation and studded soles. Besides the EN 345standard, safety shoes and boots must meet the XPS 73-012 standard to resist slipping on smooth and greasy industrial floors. Beyond standard EN 345, safety shoes may have additional protections symbolized by a standardized letter.
PPE: The Criteria for Choosing Not to Injure Your Feet
Besides analyzing your needs and the dangers and risks associated with the work environment, it is necessary to choose comfortable safety shoes. The two primary selection criteria come down to comfort and safety.
If the right choice of your safety shoes is essential, choosing padded soles, anatomical and according to the morphology of the foot is a significant comfort. Choosing breathable and anti-fungal soles is also ideal.
The models of comfortable safety shoes for women are lighter, narrower, and better adapted to the anatomy of the foot. Foot protection also involves a ventilated shoe with an anti-bacterial treatment and ergonomics adapted to the morphology.
4 Tips And Tricks to Relax, Soften And Enlarge Your Safety Shoes
To this question that is more a matter of use than of choice, here are some useful tips to relax and soften your safety shoes (preferably in leather)
- Fill your safety shoes with tissue, compact them until it widens, and leave it for several hours.
- Insert a shoemaker’s template inside his shoes wooden and accumulate his size.
- Apply petroleum jelly to the upper and break the shoes by kneading them.
- Fill plastic pockets with water to 3/4. Place them inside your safety shoes and put the whole thing in the freezer. The frozen water by increasing in volume relaxes the leather.
Denote that when you wear your safety shoes for the first time, wear thick socks to protect your feet from any inflammation.
When you have taken stock of the safety measures to be respected according to your work environment, you will also have to think about your comfort. We usually wear comfortable work boots for an entire day, so it is important to feel comfortable working.
The choice of materials is then an important criterion. If you walk all day, your shoes should be light and comfortable.
There are safety sneakers that allow you to find this lightness, thanks to shells made of composite materials. The anti-perforation sole, instead of being made of steel, can be made of resistant textile that makes it possible to gain flexibility.
More manufacturers have realized the desire of workers to have shoes that are safe, comfortable, and aesthetically pleasing. Even if it is not a priority, it is still nice not to go shopping, pick up your kids, or have a drink after work in oversized safety shoes with no style.
There are different models for all tastes now. We do not yet find moccasins, but safety sneakers like those offered by Reebok, Puma, and Uvea, or many more elegant all-leather models are available.
Caterpillar, Lemaitre, and Würth Mody are good brands among the most popular work boots brands that offer shoes for all styles such as sport or backpacker. Timberland seeks to bring a little elegance to workers. Lotto and Sparco offer models identical to sports shoes.
In short, you will understand, manufacturers have realized the desires of their customers and they now offer comfortable and aesthetic safety shoes that provide optimal protection. Then, it will be a question of budget. But again, there are models for all styles at reasonable prices.