Workplace accidents happen on a daily basis. In fact, the International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that 2.3 million occupational deaths occur globally—a surprising number in today’s age of rapid technological developments that improve safety in the workplace.
While there’s no full guarantee for accidents not to take place, companies and their employees can minimize the risks by developing a culture of safety. For instance, workers should be required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) and be aware of other safety practices before showing up for work.
Apart from hard hats, goggles, gloves, and a reflectorized vest, a pair of safety boots can help construction workers immensely. With several choices available, is it possible to choose the right one? Check out this guide to give you peace of mind before putting your safety shoes on.
How Dangerous Is A Construction Site?
Construction site hazards haunt every worker daily. These potentially fatal accidents are triggered by the following activities:
- Handling corrosive and dangerous materials and chemicals
- The presence of sharp objects that may puncture the foot
- Heavy machinery that can fall and crush a person
- Slippery or uneven surfaces
- An environment that’s highly conductive to electricity
The construction industry is one of the major sectors with high exposure to fatal accidents. For instance, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in its 2019 National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries report, indicated an increase of 5% in construction site deaths from 2007 to 2019 in the country. Falls, slips, and trips—the most common construction injuries—also increased to 11%.
What To Look For In Safety Boots
A good understanding of the safety threats you’re facing is essential in understanding how a pair of construction boots can help you prevent workplace accidents.
Below are some of the most practical solutions in finding the best safety shoes:
- Identify Your Needs
Make sure to get some input from your company’s safety managers and check government rules with regard to construction workers’ protective gear.
Generally speaking, these are a few of the ways your safety shoes can mitigate occupational hazards:
- To avoid being punctured by sharp objects, opt for shoes with metal insoles.
- Go for oil-resistant and non-slip soles if you’re working in slippery areas.
- Choose non-conducting shoes and avoid steel toes if you work in areas where electricity poses a risk.
- Rubber boots are best for workplaces where corrosive chemicals are being handled.
- Prioritize steel-toe shoes to prevent heavy objects from further damaging your foot if they fall on you.
- Safety shoes with composite toe inserts are best if you’re working under extreme temperatures.
In the US, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommends that workers inspect their safety boots often.
- Get Familiar With Your Safety Boots
Safety boots may be widely classified under the following categories:
- Electrical Hazard Safety Boots
- Heat-Resistant Safety Boots
- Insulated Safety Boots
- Metatarsal Guard Safety Boots
- Puncture-Resistant Safety Boots
- Steel Toe or Composite Safety Boots
- Oil-Resistant Safety Boots
- Waterproof Safety Boots
- Slip-Resistant Safety Boots
Knowing the parts and functions of your safety boots can help you choose the right pair for your protection, too:
Upper: The upper part of your safety boot refers to the section that covers your toes, the top, side, and back portions of your foot. Most of these parts are made from leather.
Footbed: As its name implies, the footbed refers to the internal bottom portion of the shoe. It’s one of the key elements that provide comfort to the wearer.
Safety Toes: They protect your toes from being crushed by falling objects. Mainly made of steel, safety shoes these days could also be composed of composite and aluminum toes for added protection.
Steel inserts are the heaviest of the three and they’re highly conductive to temperatures. Aluminum toes are lightweight yet thicker than steel. Composite toes, which are often made from Kevlar or carbon fiber, are the bulkiest of the three. Being non-metal, they’re temperature-resilient.
Soles: The outsoles and midsoles are often made from rubber, and have special qualities that promote resistance from slips, damages, chemicals, and other issues. Some outsoles are made from special types of rubber such as Thermo Polyurethane (TPU) and ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA).
- Focus On Protection And Comfort Rather Than Looks
Sure, a nice-looking pair of boots may boost your confidence. But looks amount to nothing if it can’t provide you with proper comfort and ample protection.
Protection is paramount in choosing the right work boots, while comfort is a close second. Choose a pair that fits you well and provides added comfort to allow you to optimize your performance.
The Bottom Line
Safety boots use diverse technologies to offer different levels of comfort and protection. To know which pair works best for you, check the guidelines and safety standards issued by the government agencies and your company. Also, keep in mind the specific occupational hazards you’re facing to maximize protection.