The average person will walk approximately 10,000 steps a day. For a laborer or construction worker, that number increases to over 30,000 steps each day. When you walk that much, wearing comfortable boots is essential to getting through the day. Equally essential to your health and safety, however, is wearing safety work boots.
There are 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, and 19 muscles in your foot. To say that work site safety starts with your feet is an understatement. Regardless of your line of work, you have to protect your feet. Thousands of workplace injuries could be prevented each year if workers simply used the proper gear.
The key elements of protective footwear
In 85% of injured workers who were wearing safety boots, their injury was caused by an object hitting them in an unprotected part of their boot. In many labor and construction environments, simply wearing a boot isn’t enough; it needs to come fully equipped with as much protection as possible. This means high traction outsoles work boots won’t cut it unless they also offer safety toes.
The toe cap must be permanently fixed to the interior of the work boot. There are several types of safety toes available, and each one can be broken into four classes: Class 75 for men and women and Class 50 for men and women. A Class 75 boot has a higher impact resistance rating than a Class 50 boot.
- Steel toe boots: The traditional choice for safety toes, steel toes are the most compact and heaviest option available. They are also more adept at conducting temperature than the other options.
- Aluminum toe boots: For lighter weight protection that still complies with the American Society for Testing and Materials’ (ASTM) safety standards, aluminum is a good option. It’s thicker than steel toe boots, but still weighs less.
- Composite toe boots: Usually made up of carbon fiber, Kevlar, or plastic, composite toe boots are again lighter than steel but bulkier than aluminum. They don’t conduct temperatures but can be a good option if you work in a place that requires your footwear be metal-free.
In addition to safety toes, you may want to look for high traction outsoles work boots with metatarsal guards. Metatarsal guards have that added layer of protection to your upper foot, shielding the area not covered by your boot’s safety toes. Metatarsal guards can be prudent for anyone working where embers or hot materials could land on your foot, such as welders.
Of the 4,600 fatal workplace injuries that occurred in 2012, 666 were caused by slips and falls. Having the right sole on your boot is important. There are a few different types of outsoles, from your basic rubber outsoles to high traction outsoles work boots. The best one for your boot will depend on the job.
- Rubber outsole: Typcially abrasion and slip-resistant, rubber is a good choice if you’re working in rugged terrains. It provides the most traction for both wet and dry surfaces.
- Thermo Poly Urethane outsoles: TPU outsoles are long-wearing and also abrasion, oil, and chemical-resistant. They’re tough enough to resist splitting while also being more lightweight than rubber.
- High traction outsoles work boots: If stability and a good grip is of the essence, high traction outsoles work boots are the thing to look for. Boots which offer high traction will keep you from slipping on even the most uneven of terrain.
Bringing it together
Workplace safety begins with the proper gear, and the foundation of that gear is safety footwear. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that on average, a worker will miss seven days of work due to a foot or toe injury. Simply by reducing accidents by 10%, we can save $60,000 annually. This is why each year, around $70 is spent per employee on procuring protective footwear.
The key to choosing the best work boots for your job, is knowing the essential elements of any protective footwear: a safety toe and good quality sole. Whether your job demands your shoes be metal-free or you need high traction outsoles work boots, understanding your options is the first step towards making the right choice for you.