Safety shoes for special risks

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Safety shoes for special risks safetyshoestoday

Safety shoes for special risks… When it comes to safety shoes, the protection against special risks is an important issue. There is, in fact, safety footwear made to protect the wearer’s feet from particular dangers, like heavy objects falling on the toes, slipping, falling and so on. Such footwear is called personal protective equipment, and it is considered essential gear in many workplaces.

In order to find the right type of protection for your feet according to the place where you work, you will have to assess the dangers and establish which ones of the special risks are the ones your feet take (read this article to go deeper in this topic). Then, you will have to select the type of safety shoes or boots that offer the right protection for you.

Safety footwear may not seem vital for safety in a workplace, just like goggles, helmets or protective gloves; therefore, if you have any doubts regarding the protection against special risks of safety footwear, do not hesitate to read this list of the advantages of using them.

Safety shoes for special risks: list of protections

Safety shoes for special risks

Feet injuries can be debilitating, with subsequent waste of working time or difficulty in performing a task. Wearing safety shoes or boots can help you prevent injuries of many types deriving from special risks. The protection is brought in the following ways:

Safety shoes for special risks: Protection from falling objects

When workers carry heavy material or work in dynamic environments, where many users, vehicles and machines operate contemporarily, the special protection assured by safety footwear may make all the difference. Protective footwear equipped with a toecap, for example, can effectively prevent crush injuries to the feet. But we can also mention safety footwear with metatarsal protection (marked “M”, for instance S3 M SRC), which protect not only the toes, but also the instep. Besides, there are two types of metatarsal protection: internal and external (to know more about this go further in this article).


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Safety shoes for special risks: Puncture protection

Safety shoes with sturdy outsoles and thick materials, especially for who those who work in construction sites, can ensure top protection, where safety footwear with soft soles may not be enough. Moreover, safety shoes and boots (marked S1P, S3 or S5 if it is safety footwear, and O1P, O3 or O5 if occupational footwear) can be equipped with puncture-resistant plates, that prevent the perforation of the outsole, thus avoiding feet injuries due to nails or other sharp objects.

Safety shoes for special risks: Protection from cuts

Adequate protection from special risks can avoid dangerous situations. Safety footwear equipped with sturdy materials, resistant to lateral cuts, will protect those who work in contact with dangerous machinery and materials. There is safety shoes with protection from lateral cuts, marked “CR” (Cut Resistant). Such shoes are equipped with a layer of protective material placed below the leather, which extends from the toecap to the heel, and 3 cm high. An example of marking can be S3 CR SRC.

UNI EN ISO 17429 = Footwear resistant to chainsaw cutting. It is a European and international standard that specifies the requirements that footwear made to protect from chainsaw cutting have to fulfill (especially in forests).

This type of footwear protects the upper from chainsaw cuts. The protection is given from Kevlar or related materials. There are 4 levels of protection, depending from the speed of the chain: 20, 24, 28 and 32 m/s (level 1, 2, 3 and 4).

This footwear, normally boots, is often also waterproof or water-resistant (WR).


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Safety shoes for special risks: Protection from special electrical risks

Electricity is a source of risk in a workplace. Workers could suffer electric shocks or accumulate static electricity. According to the kind of job, electrical isolation or antistatic properties may be necessary. Those are two very different things, and characterize two very different types of footwear.

Wearing the right safety footwear, in places where the build-up of static electricity on the body represents a danger, greatly reduces the risks, thanks to the antistatic (or conductive) properties of this kind of shoes. Such shoes reduce the amount of static electricity that accumulates on the body.

There are also protections that do the very opposite, giving the wearer electrical isolation. The standard followed by this isolating footwear is 50321.

Safety shoes for special risks: Protection against slipping and falling

Safety shoes for special risks

Slipping and falling can happen at any workplace. Companies can adopt measures to reduce such dangers, but wearing the proper safety shoes can provide better protection against these special risks.

Slip-resistant safety footwear are required, marked SRA, SRB or SRC. If a sole is marked SRC, it means it has passed both slip resistance tests (SRA and SRB), and that it provides a minimum level of protection from slipping. The slip resistance test SRC provides a numerical value which cannot be lower than a given threshold, but which can vary above it, so not all safety shoes marked SRC have the same effectiveness.

Safety shoes for special risks: Protection from fatigue

For workers who at work are standing all day, especially on hard surfaces like concrete, fatigue can become a serious problem, that can lead to diseases. However, this can be avoided by wearing the proper safety footwear. Safety shoes or boots that provide adequate shock-absorption and sufficient support for the plantar arch can fairly reduce fatigue.

Preventing excessive muscular effort will also help to protect yourself from musculo-skeletal disorders, like chronic low back pain.

Safety shoes for special risks: Other types of protection

• IMPACTS IN THE TOE AREA: metatarsal protection “M” is required, consisting in a piece of hard plastic or soft shock-absorbing material such as “Poron” or “D3O”. The protective material is placed on the upper part of the footwear, from the toecap to almost covering the tongue and laces. The protective piece is not removable, and is normally placed in the external part of the footwear, although the number of products with metatarsal protection placed in the inner part is growing.

• WET FEET DUE TO WATER SPRAYS: waterproof footwear marked WRU is required (S2, S3, O2, O3, P2, P3). It is footwear equipped with a water-resistant upper and with seams that resist to water penetration from sprays but not to immersion or long-term exposure to water and other liquids. For that you will need footwear marked WR which is normally equipped with a waterproof membrane like Goretex, Outdry or Sympatex.

• FIRE RESISTANCE: for this protection you will need firefighter boots, certified UNI EN 15090. This is a specific standard that boots designed for protecting from such risks must meet. They can have different kinds of protection, depending on whether the intervention is of forestry nature (F1), structural (F2) or presenting chemical risks (F3).


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Safety shoes for special risks: Protection from bad weather

Safety shoes for special risks

It is well known that cold can cause injuries and diseases, like hypothermia, and those dangers should never be underestimated at work. Those who work outside, in winter, are at risk, as well as those who work in moist or refrigerated environments.

Besides, cold can worsen some less known work-related injuries. For example, Raynaud Sindrome is a disease which can turn the fingers white, because of bad bloodstream. This condition, related to the vibrations caused by the use of power tools, gets worse when the body is exposed to low temperature. In certain cases this disease can also affect the feet, so that keeping them warm and cozy, along with other precautions to keep the whole body warm, is important.

Not all safety shoes are waterproof or heat/cold-insulating, so not all safety shoes can protect from cold, rain or snow. Therefore, you should make sure to choose products equipped with the proper protection and materials. Generally, the footwear marked CI (for instance S3 CI SRC) isolate the feet from cold. Also footwear containing fur, Thinsulate or other cold-insulating and water-resistant materials can help you protect yourself from low temperatures and bad weather.


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Safety shoes for special risks: Conclusions

I hope this list will help you to find the right kind of safety shoes for your needs, and to be more protected at work. This is a short list of the most common risks your feet can take at your workplace.

What do you think about safety footwear for special risks?

Safety shoes for special risks. Do you have any points to add?

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Robert Frog
I was born in London in 1975 and still live here. I could define myself, summing up in a few words my long working career, a great expert in the field of foot and foot problems. Immediately after graduating in Motor Science I started working in an orthopaedics in which orthotics were made to measure for people with foot problems. In 1999 I was hired as Key Account Manager in a well-known chain of safety footwear and other personal protective equipment. Among my clients I had several industries, which I visited regularly to understand the needs of workers, both in terms of protection and comfort. During these years I have consolidated my knowledge on foot problems. Furthermore, I studied carefully the products I proposed: attending courses, participating in trade fairs and, often, accepting the invitation of manufacturers to visit the factories. I was thus able to observe closely the techniques and materials used to produce the best safety shoes. Since 2015 I have been collaborating with the PPE Academy for the content of Safety Shoes Today.

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