There are guidelines for selecting work shoes, and then there are rules for choosing the right safety footwear, and although similar, they are not the same. What should we consider when choosing safety footwear, and what is the “right” pair of safety shoes or boots? That depends on many variables that should be considered during the buying process.
What does the work entail?
Safety footwear should be chosen based on the work environment and any dangers or potential risks that come with the job. Does the work include lifting heavy materials or equipment? Is there a risk of dropping something on your foot or something rolling over the top of it? Jobs with these types of risks warrant the use of toe and metatarsal protection in safety shoes and boots. Or maybe there is a risk of sharp objects falling or otherwise penetrating the shoe? In these instances you will want to choose shoes that are cut and puncture resistant. If the sharp objects are heavy, you may need toe or metatarsal protection too.
Other times, the work environment needs as much protection from you as you do from it. Computer and electronics factories are examples of workplaces that can require the use of static dissipative soles to protect sensitive equipment from errant static shocks that can cost thousands of dollars and hours of lost production time.
Many times it is not the work itself that needs attention, but rather secondary conditions that create problems, ranging from discomfort to dangerous conditions with the potential to cause serious and lifelong injuries. Consider conditions that will be encountered and plan for them. Spend your day walking on rough terrain or slippery surfaces? Then buy safety shoes with good ankle support or slip-resistant soles in addition to any other features required for your job. Or maybe your job exposes you to extreme temperatures or dangerous debris? Safety footwear with the right amount and type of insulation, as well as the right weight and material of upper, can make a big difference in the way each work day ends up and how many toes live on each foot.
These are but a few of many things to consider when choosing the right safety footwear for your job, and with the incredible selection of available choices, that can be narrowed down to exactly what you need to get it done right, with style choices too. CCOHS Answers has more information available on their website about how to choose the right safety shoes for your needs. Choose wisely and get more of what you paid for out of your safety footwear.
—Danielle Darling for Safety Reboot