Buying a pair of safety footwear is easy, you can go on the internet and you will find thousands of different types of safety footwear, but which one will really protect you from the risks on your job site? Buying the right safety footwear for each type of risk is not so automatic.
You’ll need to study a little bit, because on the market there are lots of safety shoes for the different types of risk in the work place.
My goal is to give you some explanation to help you finding the right safety footwear for each type of risk.
In this article I will try to give you an idea of what type of footwear you need, depending on the risks of your work place by mentioning a list of risks for your feet.
Of course it is not so easy to make a list of all types of risks but I’d like to list the most frequent. I’m sure that it will help you choosing 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 risks at work?
I will now explain to you some risks that your feet can take at work, so you will know what’s the right safety footwear for each type of risk.
What type of risks might occur to your feet? And what solutions are there on the market?
- CUTS ON THE UPPER FROM SHARP OBJECTS: you need cut resistant footwear “CR”, usually this type of protection is placed between the leather upper and the lining, it is made of materials like Kevlar textile that protects the foot against cuts.
Best “CR” pick by SafetyShoesToday
- SLIPPING ON FLOORS: you need slip resistant footwear “SRC”, an SRC outsole has passed both SRA and SRB tests, so a minimum slip resistance performance is guaranteed called “SRC”. The SRC tests give a numeric result that could be higher or lower, consequently the level of slip resistance of the outsole changes.
- PUNCTURES THROUGH THE OUTSOLE: you need puncture resistant footwear “P”, it is footwear with a steel or a textile plate positioned between the comfort insole and the outsole. It is not removable.
CHAINSAW FALLING ON THE SHOE: you need footwear certified UNI EN ISO 17249, there are 4 levels of protection depending on the maximum speed of the chain. The protection is given by a kevlar or similar material lining of different thicknesses plus some other construction techniques. On the side of the footwear the level of protection is indicated (1,2,3,4)
Best “17249 class I, II, III” picks by SafetyShoesToday
- SIDE IMPACTS ON THE ANKLE: you need ankle protection footwear “AN”. A piece of plastic, or an impact absorbing material like “D3O” or “Poron”, are placed in the part covering the heel bone, can be only on the outside of the shoe or both inside and outside. It’s non removable.
Best “AN” picks by SafetyShoesToday
- IMPACTS ON THE TOES: you need safety footwear certified UNI EN ISO 20345 or UNI EN ISO 20346, composite, fiberglass, aluminum, steel or carbon fiber toe cap protections are placed between the leather and the lining, in the front part of the footwear, in order to absorb potential impacts or compressions from heavy objects on the toe area of the footwear. The toe caps can resist to pressures up to 200J or to 100J, depending on the type of footwear needed (20345 and 20346). On the market most frequently there are 200J impact absorbing toe cap shoes (safety), and more rarely 100J impact absorbing toe cap shoes (occupational).
- IMPACTS ON THE FRONT OF THE FOOT: you need metatarsal footwear “M”. A piece of plastic or an impact absorbing material like “D3O” or “Poron” are placed in correspondence of the top part of the footwear, right after the toe cap and covering almost all the tongue and laces. It is called Metatarsal protection. This protection is not removable, and normally it is placed on the outer part of the shoe, but the number of internal metatarsal protective shoes is growing.
Best “M” picks by SafetyShoesToday
- WET FEET FROM OUTSIDE WATER SPRAYS: you need water repellent footwear “WRU” (S2, S3, O2, O3, P2, P3). A shoe with a water resistant upper and stitching will resist to sprays of water but not to immersion and long exposition to water and liquids.
- BURNS FROM FLAMES: you need firefighter boots certified UNI EN 15090. It is a specific standard and the boots to protect from this type of risk have to comply with this standard.
- BURNS FROM WELDING SPARKS: you need shoes for welders, certified UNI EN ISO 20345. Usually the protection is given by a regular safety shoe (20345) with a piece of leather covering the laces, if the risk is higher it is recommended to upgrade to a higher standard (UNI EN ISO 20349) for a higher grade of protection (footwear resistant to sprays of molten metal).
- BURNS FROM MOLTEN METAL SPRAYS: you need foundry shoes certified UNI EN ISO 20349. It is a specific standard and the boots to protect from this type of risk have to comply with this standard.
Best “20349” picks by SafetyShoesToday
- COLD FEET: you need cold insulating outsoles “CI”. If the cold comes from contact with the ground, then cold insulating shoes “CI” can insulate from low temperatures for a long period of time, but if the cold comes from the whole environment then insulating felts like “Thinsulate” or furs are needed to protect the feet from the cold.
Best “CI” picks by SafetyShoesToday
- WET FEET FROM WATER SPLASHES OR IMMERSION IN WATER: you need waterproof footwear “WR”, a waterproof membrane like “Goretex” or “Sympatex” is under the leather of the upper. It can be an internal sock or a laminated textile. The chemical structure of the waterproof membranes is so microscopic that the air is able to go through, instead the water drops cannot go through because they are bigger so they keep out of contact from the foot. The scratch resistance of the membrane and a good construction of the footwear are essential for the long duration of the waterproofness.
Best “WR” picks by SafetyShoesToday
- CONTAMINATIONS FROM CHEMICAL SPRAYS OR SPLASHES: you need safety boots certified UNI EN 13832, this type of protection is guaranteed only from polymeric boots such as PVC, rubber, neoprene and other materials. There is a specific standard and the boots have to comply with this standard in order to offer appropriate protection from this type of risk.
- BURNS FROM ELECTRIC ARC: you need isolating footwear certified CEI EN 50321, this type of protection is guaranteed only from polymeric boots such as PVC, rubber, neoprene and other materials. There is a specific standard and the boots have to comply with this standard in order to protect from this type of risk.
- BURNING ELECTRONIC SENSITIVE DEVICES FROM ELECTRICOSTATIC DISCHARGES: you need “ESD” shoes, a shoe with ESD characteristics has a higher grade of antistatic property so that electrostatic charges are transmitted to the ground, preventing them from staying on the body. To increase the level of protection from static electricity) the shoe is equipped with more stitching, a more antistatic compound of the outsole, a specific comfort insole with stitching to help transmit the electric charges to the ground quickly.
- PRESENCE OF METAL DETECTORS: you need “METAL FREE” footwear. The shoes are equipped with non metallic elements. For example non metallic eyelets, puncture resistant textile plates, non metallic toe caps.
Best “METAL FREE” picks by SafetyShoesToday
- ACCIDENTS FROM LOW VISIBILITY: you need “REFLECTIVE STRIPES”, some reflective stripes are placed on different parts of the upper to make the shoes visible with low light. They’re front, back and side positioned. Now there are also some footwear components such as eyelets or textiles with such property.
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.
What do you think about the right safety footwear for each type of risk?
Do you have points to add?
Please write your comments below!