Many of us work in harsh conditions where it is really necessary to ensure that we get appropriate shoes to protect our feet while keeping us comfortable. And when it comes to foot protection, safety shoes are considered the best type of work boots that can protect you from getting injured in the workplace. So, what are safety shoes, and what are they used for? Let’s delve into this article to get it.
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What Are Safety Shoes?
Safety shoes are usually referred to as good steel toe shoes or boots. They have various types of styles and offer different fitting levels, depending on your working conditions and requirements.
For example, suppose you have to spend most of your time working outdoors, like on a construction site. In that case, a pair of safety shoes with a sturdy and durable sole might be the best choice because they will protect you from hazardous elements as well as any risk of injury.
On the other hand, a pair of solid safety shoes will be considered useless if you just work in a kitchen because there is no potential risk of getting injured by sharp or heavy objects. Instead, non-slip shoes will work best for you in this case.
Safety shoes not only serve practical purposes, such as foot protection, but they also appear in fashion sometimes, especially in skinhead and punk cultures where the industrial/military look is what matters.
So, the following part will give you an idea of what makes a good pair of safety shoes, what they are used for, why you need them, and also some different types of safety shoes available on the market. This way, you can easily know which one to buy when looking for a suitable pair.
What Makes A Good Pair Of Safety Shoes?
Different comfortable safety shoes will be designed to meet different working conditions and requirements. However, there are still some common and standard features of a good pair of safety footwear. Looking at these factors will help you know which features are the most important for your needs. From that, you can easily choose an appropriate pair of safety shoes.
Although safety shoes are usually referred to as featuring steel toe caps, this is not always the case. Different types of safety shoes will be made with different materials. For example, some toe caps are reinforced with alloy, steel, composite, aluminum, and titanium materials, or plastic, like thermoplastic polyurethane.
Since the purpose of safety shoes varies depending on different purposes, the lowest requirements for the toe cap will also be different between types of boots. No matter what their purposes are and what the used materials are, every protective toe cap should resist the minimal force of 100 jun in a drop test.
Almost all safety shoes are made from nubuck leather uppers, which is completely opposite to manmade materials. However, several safety shoes are reinforced with synthetic or textile uppers, like micro-velour.
When compared to leather, these types of materials are much more ventilated. Hence, you will always feel breathable at work, typically when you have to work in hot conditions. Having said that, leather has its own advantages over synthetic. Leather is far more durable, sturdy, and it gives you better protection against hazardous working conditions.
Since the liner is the fabric layer that directly contacts your foot, it is really crucial to opt for lining made from ventilated, fast-drying, and moisture-wicking materials. Almost all liners of safety shoes are made of materials such as wool, cotton, thermoregulating textile composites, or leather. This is because these leather vs synthetic materials for comfortable work shoes meet the above requirements and qualities.
The insoles of safety shoes are not only designed to give your feet added protection but also comfort. Taking this into account, most safety shoe brands produce insoles made from non-woven materials such as wool or even leather. These types of materials are not only enduring, long-lasting but also great at absorbing sweat and moisture. As a result, your feet will have extra protection while feeling squishy.
Some common materials used to make outsoles of safety shoes include TPU, polyurethane, or rubber. In fact, these materials don’t have the same characteristics, but they all provide you with excellent traction to walk on slippery surfaces. This is also important for you to pick the right material when choosing the best model for you.
Besides, several models offer scuff caps or heel caps and even cushioning for added support. Even though not all safety shoes have these features, you should still consider them, typically when you work in a heavy machinery field.
Protection of Safety Shoes
Safety shoes are a kind of protective footwear that was developed in the early 20th century. They are considered a great response to the increasing awareness about safety and health in the workplace. During that period, workers’ compensation and benefits laws were also being enacted. Hence, safety shoes became a less expensive choice for enterprises to inhibit injury rather than to hire a new worker to replace the injured one – as was customary before the new law.
Foot injury causes different impacts not only on your feet but also on your overall health in some serious cases. And it will make a huge difference between being able to continue working or not. And below are some benefits you can get from wearing a durable pair of safety shoes:
Protect your feet from falling objects: One of the most common and biggest causes of foot injuries is when something falls on your foot. In such cases, safety shoes will provide you with extra protection from bumps. Moreover, the reinforced toe caps will also let you release your feet quickly and effortlessly if they get caught in something.
Keep you safe from punctures: In this case, it is really important for you to choose the right outsole materials. This is even more essential when your working environment has a high potential risk of getting injured due to sharp objects, such as scrap metal, glass, etc.
Protection against cutting: If your job requires you to use cutting tools such as logging machines, chainsaws, or any other sharp tools, it is essential to protect your feet with the right pair of safety shoes. You can opt for models made from cut materials, and some models are typically designed to meet these requirements.
Minimize the possibility of electrocution: This might sound a little odd; however, some working environments can pose a hazard. Static buildup can lead to shocks, so a good pair of conductive safety shoes will minimize the amount of static electricity in your body. On the other hand, those who work with household electricity can choose non-conductive safety shoes because these models can keep electrical charges from entering your body.
Prevent you from slipping: A pair of safety shoes with slip-resistant outsoles will keep you safe from falling or slipping when walking on greasy surfaces, climbing ladders, etc. Hence, the possibility of getting injured due to this can be significantly reduced. No matter what material the outsole is, you need to make sure that it gives you a strong grip.
Protection against burns: The right safety shoes can help you stay away from serious burns, particularly when your working environment has molten metal or chemicals and hazardous substances.
What Are Safety Shoes Used For?
Safety shoes can be used for all kinds of jobs that pose a risk to your feet and where you need extra foot protection. You might need to wear them in different working environments, such as warehouses, factories, constructions and can use a cool constructions boots, etc.
Nevertheless, different safety shoes are made to meet different working conditions and requirements. All safety shoes are classified to follow certain criteria, depending on the type of working conditions in which they are manufactured. In general, you can easily identify most types of safety shoes with typical symbols commonly found on the soles of shoes. The following is a classification of the standard European symbols and classifications used to classify safety footwear:
|SB||The toe cap can resist the impact of up to 200 joules. This is considered the basic standard for safety shoes.|
|S1||The toe cap is impact-resistant up to 200 joules. It should also have a fully enclosed heel. Besides, the insole should be antistatic.|
|S2||The protective toe cap needs to be able to withstand the impact of up to 200 joules. It also has to be antistatic, water-resistant and has an enclosed heel.|
|S3||The same as S2 but usually has slotted soles and puncture-resistant.|
|S4||Similar to S2 but the outsoles are made from all polymeric or rubber materials. Plus, the upper should be antistatic and shock-absorbing insoles.|
|S5||The same as S4 with cleated and penetration-resistant outsoles.|
These are the most standard safety factors of work boots you might see on the most available safety footwear. However, there are also some differences in standard classifications as follows:
|SBP||The protective toe cap should be able to withstand the impact of 200 joules, and the midsole needs to be penetration-resistant.|
|S1P||Similar to S1 but the midsoles should be capable of withstanding penetration.|
|S2P||The same as S2 but with added penetration-resistant midsole.|
Besides, there are some rules and regulations regarding safety shoes. But those are the most important things you need to know to choose a suitable pair. What’s more, several types of safety footwear can give you more advantages, so consider the following benefits before deciding which pair of safety shoes you will buy:
- Heat-resistant outsoles
- Metatarsal design
- Steel shank
- Composite midsole
- Waterproof upper
- Slip-resistant soles
- Wide fit
- Cut-resistant material
- Electrostatic dispersion
- Recycled materials
If you are working in an environment that poses a high risk of falling due to slippery surfaces, it is essential to choose a pair of safety shoes with an excellent amount of slip resistance. You can look at the following table to know the three main classifications for slip-resistant shoes.
|SRA||Any safety shoes that are marked with this label have been tested on porcelain floors with a sodium lauryl solution (a special solution of all diluted commercial cleaning products).|
|SRB||Safety footwear with SRB marks on the outsoles has all been tested on steel floors with glycerol (standard viscosity of most food sauces and other types of viscous liquids).|
|SRC||This means that your safety shoes have been tested and correspond to both safety factors above.|
So, that’s all the necessary information you need to know about what safety shoes are. Besides, always remember to consider important factors before deciding to buy any models of safety shoes using my guide above. This way, you can easily pick a suitable pair of safety shoes that meets your requirements and working conditions. If you know someone who needs to read this information, don’t hesitate to share it with them. Thank you for reading!