On the market there is a wide choice of safety footwear, and more or less they look the same at first sight, but the truth is that there are a lot of differences between the different styles of safety footwear.
My goal is to give you some explanation to help you finding the right safety footwear for different work places.
In this article I will try to give you an idea of what type of footwear you need related to your work area, your work environment and your needs in general. Of course it is not so easy to make a list of all types of work situations but I’d like to list you the most frequent.
I’m sure that it will help you to choose the right safety footwear for your needs.
Do you have to buy your safety footwear but you don’t know what characteristics you have to look for? Are you not sure but curious to know about the different work environments?
I will now explain to you some characteristics of different work environments so you’ll know what are the right safety footwear for different work places.
- 1 The right safety footwear for different work places
- 1.1 Best CI picks by SafetyShoesToday
- 1.2 Best WR picks by SafetyShoesToday
- 1.3 Best EN 20349 picks by SafetyShoesToday
- 1.4 Best AN picks by SafetyShoesToday
- 1.5 Best ESD picks by SafetyShoesToday:
- 1.6 Best EN 15090 picks by SafetyShoesToday:
- 1.7 Best EN 20349 safety shoes selected by SafetyShoesToday:
- 1.8 POLYMERIC BOOTS:
The right safety footwear for different work places
- Safety footwear for cold environments: a cold insulating felt is needed, a cold insulation “CI” outsole is needed, usually a good slip resistance is needed (SRC), usually riggers and rangers are preferred to ankle boots and shoes
Best CI picks by SafetyShoesToday
- Safety footwear for wet environments: minimum an “S2” or “S3” is recommended, depending on the quantity of liquids and sprays it would be necessary to wear a waterproof membrane shoe certified “WR”, or polymeric (rubber – PVC – neoprene – PU) boots “S4” or “S5”, better choosing a good slip resistance boot “SRC”, plain leather or microfiber are probably the best materials even if it is really depending on the quality of the leather tanning
Best WR picks by SafetyShoesToday
- Safety footwear for women: small sizes are needed, a specific women last is needed, a feminine look would be preferable
- Safety footwear for forest fire: from regular “S3 HRO” rangers, to boots certified UNI EN 15090 type 1 boots, depending on the specifications. Of course the second option is the most professional and protective. Ask your safety manager which type of boots you need to wear
- Safety footwear for electricians: there is a specific norm CEI EN 50321 and boots following this standard are all polymeric. However a number of producers sell regular leather safety shoes with basic safety “SB” with isolating outsole compound tested according to Canadian and American standards, they don’t comply with the European standards but this is the only way to offer leather dielectric safety boots. The test in this case is done at 18000V of electrical tension, and the requirement is no electrical discharge over 3 mA (called the Canadian CSA test)
- Safety footwear for foundry industry: there is a specific norm UNI EN ISO 20349, depending on the type of molten metal, there are some certifications like “AL” and “FE”, that would be more specific to the type of risk. Generally the outsoles are rubber nitrile for a better heat resistance, the leathers are thicker than normal shoes, the stitching is fire proof and there is presence of metatarsal protections. Quick release systems are necessary in case of accident.
Best EN 20349 picks by SafetyShoesToday
- Safety footwear for steel industry: as for the mechanical industry, sturdiness is the key point, so TPU or rubber nitrile outsoles are generally preferable. Depending on presence of greases and oils nitrile outsoles give better results, sturdy printed leathers or floor plain leathers are more performing in this type of applications. In some cases, if there is a risk of front impacts it would be necessary a metatarsal protection, that can be external or internal but not removable for getting the M certification. Side impacts are instead absorbed by an ankle protection made of hard plastics, or soft impact resistant materials as “Poron” or “D3O”, the footwear can comply the “AN” certification and be ankle protective.
Best AN picks by SafetyShoesToday
- Safety footwear for food industry: there are some features that are basic in the food industry. White colour is preferable because shows dirt so the shoes have to be cleaned, microfibers are more washable than natural leathers and more anti microbial, the presence of toe cap is not always requested, but slip resistance “SRC” is a must. Outsoles can be of any type, they should be chosen depending on the type of work place, the most frequent for comfort are PU single density.
- Safety footwear for microelectronic industries: “ESD” shoes are preferable for having a better antistatic property and for protecting electrostatic sensitive devices from electrostatic discharges, closer to conductivity than the normal antistatic. Usually the insoles have additional stitching to help electric charges get faster to the ground.
Best ESD picks by SafetyShoesToday:
- Safety footwear for hospital service: depending on the type of applications there is a wide range of products for hospital services, from clogs to slippers, usually white or green colour, usually without toe cap protection. Autoclavable clogs are used by surgeons. Safety toe caps are used from warehouse people especially in pharmacies. Generally microfibers are taking the place of natural leather due to a better resistance to fluids, blood and organic acids. The outsoles are usually mono density PU for lightness and comfort, but also PU/PU is also used.
- Safety footwear for roof works: there are specific ankle boots for this type of job. Usually red outsoles for non marking purposes on red roofs, flat design to have more grip. Usually the outsole is of rubber nitrile for a better grip and for resistance to hot surfaces.
- Safety footwear for service industry: usually they are products made with mono density PU outsoles, with or without toe cap protection, usually non puncture resistant, leather is getting replaced more and more by microfibers, generally sanitized insoles are required, ESD outsoles are sometimes suggested. Lightness is the key.
- Safety footwear for uniforms: depending on the type of uniform, usually non toes-protecting shoes and boots (EN 20347). Generally black colour and full grain leather. Side zipper on ankle boots and rangers are usually requested.
- Safety footwear for glassworks: there is a specific protection for this type of work, it is not mandatory but recommended, it is the cut resistance certified “CR”
- Safety footwear for chemical industry: if there’s presence of strong chemicals and acids, it is preferable to use rubber or polymeric boots (EN 13832). There are some companies that make great chemical resistant leather shoes basically equipped with full rubber cemented outsoles and sturdy leathers. But shoes are usually less resistant than rubber and polymeric boots.
- Safety footwear for mechanical industry: sturdiness is the key point, so “TPU” or rubber nitrile outsoles are generally preferable. Depending on presence of greases and oils nitrile outsoles give better results, sturdy printed leathers or floor plain leathers are more performing in this type of applications. In some cases, if there is a risk of front impacts it would be necessary a metatarsal protection, that can be external or internal but not removable for getting the “M” certification. Side impacts are instead absorbed by an ankle protection made of hard plastics, or soft impact resistant materials as “Poron” or “D3O”, the footwear can comply the “AN” certification and be ankle protective.
- Safety footwear for military: depending on the type of squad, the colour vary from sand to khaki to black colour. Side zippers are mostly requested. Safety toe cap is not always needed. Metal free properties sometimes are a key point but in other cases a steel toe is required for best impact and compression resistance. Lightness, comfort and shock absorption are appreciated.
- Safety footwear for first responders: generally ankle boots or rangers. Mostly without toe cap protection, colours are black with bright side colours like orange or yellow or red and reflective stripes to be more visible at night. Side zippers are requested many times for easy on easy off purposes. Non metallic parts are usually appreciated, membranes (WR) sometimes are requested not really for waterproof protection but for body fluids and blood contaminations protection.
- Safety footwear for welders: there is a specific type of footwear for welders, with laces covered by a piece of non removable leather, with or without fireproof laces. Outsoles mainly in rubber nitrile, but depending on toughness of the job place also the other outsoles are accepted. Some styles have a quick release system to facilitate taking off the shoes in case of accidents. Metal free components are sometimes appreciated but not strictly necessary. Sometimes instead of welding shoes are used riggers for not having laces. Sometimes welders use foundry shoes certified UNI EN ISO 20349.
- Safety footwear for firemen: this type of boot follows the standard UNI EN 15090:2012. There are 3 different types of footwear for firemen for the different conditions: rescue (basically in forestry), structural and chemical rescues. For any type of rescue there is a mandatory standard to follow and corresponding boots to choose from. Toe cap and puncture resistant plate are generally needed, thicker fireproof leathers, “HRO” outsoles, fire resistant laces and stitching, heat insulations are the basis of this footwear. For the hardest rescues which involve chemical contaminations only polymeric boots are allowed. Side zippers are mostly requested. Ask your safety manager what type of footwear you must wear
Best EN 15090 picks by SafetyShoesToday:
- Safety footwear for waste management: steel toe cap and steel puncture resistant plate are suggested for the toughest conditions, the outsole should include a shank for protecting the foot while using truck stairs all day, a hard and strong and slip resistant outsole “SRC” is strongly recommended for the tough conditions, plain leather (S3) also suggested for this type of job for a better liquids resistance
- Safety footwear for automotive industries: there are different applications in the automotive industry, but the main features requested are lightness and absence of external metallic parts that could scratch the finishing of the cars, so plastic eyelets are suggested. Also, usually PU/PU outsole are a main feature. In some mechanical areas rubber nitrile “HRO” and slip resistant outsoles “SRC” are needed for resisting to oils and lubricants. In this areas also plain leather is preferable for keeping the upper cleaner. In some areas “ESD” outsoles are mandatory to protect the electronic parts (“electrostatic sensitive devices”) of the cars from electrostatic discharges.
- Safety footwear for aluminium works: the shoes for this type of application are in the subcategory “AL”, resisting to sprays of molten aluminium. Rubber nitrile “HRO” outsoles are recommended.
Best EN 20349 safety shoes selected by SafetyShoesToday:
- Safety footwear for electricians: this type of boot follows the standard CEI EN 61340 and polymeric boots are the only ones to be able to pass the tests. So the boots certified with this standard are the only ones that are good for this type of applications. Also dielectric overboots are available on the market. There are two classes of electric resistance, 0 and 00.
- Safety footwear for cleanrooms: in room cleaning environments it is necessary to minimize the risk of accidents to personnel by slipping and also to prevent faults and downtime caused by the discharge of static electricity. The correct footwear is necessary in addition to the installed plant, floor areas and garment. Usually ESD footwear class 1 is preferrable.
- Safety hybrid footwear: is a class II footwear incorporating another material which extends the upper
- Safety boots for building industry
- Safety boots for food industry
- Safety boots for fishing, working and moving of fish products
- Safety boots for refineries
- Safety boots for forestry and agriculture
polymeric boots, can be S4 or S5, O4 or O5, design D or E, usually the producers tend to give different colours to the boots to underline their different applications, some would also change some of their chemical components in the compound to have a better resistance to organic acids, fats, organic fluids, petroleum, salty water, concrete etc
I hope that this list will help you to find the right safety footwear for your needs, and to help you being safer at work.
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