Safety shoes are an essential component of every workplace. From protecting the feet of your workers from unwanted slip & fall hazards to providing the extra level of support while standing, the PPEs protect your workers’ feet from various life-threatening hazards they are constantly exposed to.
“According to the US Department of Labor, 666 workplace injuries are associated with slips, falls and trips. Injuries involving strains and falls are also among the leading causes of missing work”.
Wearing the right safety shoes i.e. shoes that are designed according to the needs of the workers, is of good quality, and fits properly, minimizes the risk to the worker’s safety by a considerable margin. This reduced risk to safety also impacts the legal & financial liabilities a business owner might incur in case a worker gets injured at work. Thus, if you are a business owner, safety shoes, along with other essential PPEs are a must. But, before you rush to the first safety shoe manufacturer and buy any shoe, remember this: each shoe is made differently, considering the hazards associated with the particular industry it is to be used in.
Safety shoe manufacturers have different categories of safety shoes available. Each category of safety shoe serves a different industry, a different working environment. They are available in different styles, shapes, weights and features; to serve the different purposes for which they are manufactured. Therefore, when it comes to fulfilling the basic safety needs of workers at the workplace, buying safety shoes for the sake of it is not enough. The safety shoe not only needs to fit properly but also has to be ‘right’ – based on the exact requirements of the workers.
What should you do then? We are sharing a list of factors that you can consider while buying safety shoes for your workers and buy the right product.
Basic Safety Features
No matter which industry your business is associated with or the kind of hazards you are considering while buying safety shoes, there are certain common safety measures that are a must. Below is a list of features that one must bear in mind before selecting safety shoes:
- Toe cap: Toe cap is one of the first requirements for any safety shoe, irrespective of the industry. The element protects the wearers feet from the impact due to falling objects. However, the requirement is different in each industry and thus, the toe caps are made with different materials. For instance, in the construction industry, the risk of heavy objects falling on the toe is much higher and thus, steel toe cap is much preferred. On the other hand, if working at Airports, a plastic toe cap is a much more relevant option than a metal one.
- Penetration Resistance: Penetration-resistant insoles come in steel or textile variants. Consider the material based on the industry requirements. For instance, there are high chances of a worker getting injured due to a long nail piercing through the shoes. Shoes used in such circumstances should have insoles which are highly impenetrable.
- Antistatic: Antistatic safety feature ensures feet protection against hazards caused by the ignition of flammable substances or fumes, and also protects against electric shocks.
- Water & Chemical Resistance: Water & chemical resistance feature provides protection against injuries resulting from any chemical splash while working. Plus, water resistance prevents the worker from slipping and keeps their feet dry.
- Heat Insulated: It is a must for safety shoes in almost all industries to protect the wearer’s feet from heat, transmitted through different routes and in different scenarios. Thus, heat insulation is an essential factor to consider before buying safety shoes.
- Anti-skid: The anti-skid feature enables safety shoes to protect the wearer by ensuring a better grip on slippery surfaces, eliminating chances of injuries due to slip and fall.
Hazard Specific Safety Features
There are numerous safety shoes available in the market. Each of them is designed keeping in mind a particular hazard or a particular working condition. For instance, steel toe boots are the most commonly used safety shoes and protect workers against hazards such as ankle sprain, impacts by falling objects, etc. commonly occuring in chemical plants.
Waterproof shoes are tailor-made for wet surfaces and outdoors. In case of work associated with liquid or chemicals related industries, where splash and spill hazards exist, boots are the most suitable shoe type.
Similarly, each industry has a seperate set of hazards that is limited to that particular industry. Do remember to consider the availability of all those hazard-related features in the safety shoe you finally purchase.
Buy safety shoes only from trusted and renowned manufacturers. Go online or look for word of mouth referrals. Collect information about the manufacturers in your list of potentials and consult with nearby companies, who have purchased PPEs earlier and get a piece of their mind. It is always suggested to go for quality products rather than buying affordable items.
To avoid and reduce the severity of foot injuries, it is important to wear quality safety footwear. Most of the safety shoes are fitted with features like impact protection and slip-resistant soles, safety toes, and ankle padding. These features provide excellent foot protection to workers, allowing them to work efficiently around the site.
“As per the NSC (National Safety Council), 1 of 4 victims of job related foot injuries wear safety shoes. The remaining 3 are simply unaware of the safety benefits of wearing protective footwear”.