Deciding on Safety Work Boots? What you Need to Know

Safety work boots are a necessity for ensuring your feet are as safe as possible while you carry out your work duties. There are a number of options on the market but it is important you choose the boots that are comfortable and suit the roles you carry out.

Perhaps steel toe capped boots are the right choice, maybe composite toe caps are better suited. The only way to know what you need from your safety boots is to consider the hazards and risks associated with your job, and compare that to the ratings and codes each boot offers.

There are all manner of safety footwear ratings, codes and specifications nowadays - all created for specific job roles and applications. Get it wrong, and not only do you risk falling foul of the law, but you risk injury to yourself.

So how do you choose the right pair of boots for you?

Opt for a trusted brand  - it will be cheaper in the long run

You can find cheap work boots down the centre aisle of many low cost supermarkets. They are perfectly fine for knocking around the garden or allotment, and would likely stand the test of time for domestic use.

But would they last in your workplace, doing your job, for your hours, on your feet?

There is a reason they are cheap.

What do supermarkets know about your workplace safety? It is unlikely the footwear has been through the same vigorous testing done by specialist safety footwear brands such as Rock Fall, or PPE experts like Portwest. This testing is absolutely necessary to ensure each boot specification meets the safety standards and protection we as workers require and expect.

Make sure your boots are made and sold by a member of the BSiF and stick with a name you can trust.

You will find that branded, safety specific boots for most applications cost much less than you would think, plus they will last longer.

Never Buy Second-Hand

There is no disputing this one and it should go without saying: NEVER buy second-hand safety boots.

You do not know what foot injury disasters they have already protected against and no doubt they will come with added wear and tear. What if they have already exceeded their safe limit? Nobody wants to find out their boots are broken as a Caterpillar drives over their foot.

Soles wear based on the wearer's gait, so by wearing somebody else's tread, you will be affecting your own footsteps and balance. This could potentially lead to slow damage to almost any joint in your body. Back, hips knees, ankles and feet all require correct alignment to remain healthy.

Don't do it to yourself.

Go for Comfortable Features

When deciding on what style of boot perfectly suits your working environment, you should be careful not to compromise on your own comfort. Lightweight work boots are often opted for rather than the traditional steel toe cap boots purely for comfort reasons.

If a metal-free safety boot is available with the correct safety rating for your job description, it tends to be much lighter to carry on your feet, helping to avoid fatigue throughout the day.

If you absolutely must have steel toe-capped boots in order to remain safe at work, then you should not opt for buying a big riggers boot when a pair of ankle boots would suffice

Many lightweight safety boots are not quite as protective as something heavier. All footwear at Xamax complies with the legislated 200joule minimum impact protection, but you may need much more (don't worry, we have those too).

A happy medium is what you should be searching for. Something that is durable and hard-working, yet not going to kill your feet after grafting about on-site all day.

Get the Correct Size/Fit

This seems like a given but it is important to note that work boots are going to be pretty uncomfortable if they are the wrong size and fit. You are going to be on your feet all day, so they will need to be comfortable, which will likely help to improve your work performance making your day easier.

Check the various different size guides on our product pages to ensure that you are purchasing as close a size as you can to your needs. Remember to consider what type of socks will be worn with the boot, or they won't fit properly.

There is no point buying a size too big if you are just wearing thin cotton socks, or a snug fit if you intend to wear sub-zero Arctic standard thermal socks.

Foot & Ankle Protection

This is the main reason for buying safety boots, so it is the most important thing to consider.

Consider what kind of day-to-day jobs you do and the hazards you are exposed to. This will determine what safety ratings and what style of boots you need.

There are many abbreviations and codes that determine the level of protection you can expect from a pair of safety boots.

The ideas below are by no means exhaustive, and there may be some overlaps from each suggestion - use your own judgement, your new found knowledge of the codes and your risk assessments to decide the correct safety boots for you.

Do you work on a building site for 8 hours a day?

You are going to need comfortable steel toe-capped boots that have an anti-penetration midsole. An S3 or greater boot will protect against the likes of a dropped brick, or scaffolding pole breaking your toes and also protect you from the underfoot nail penetration of a carelessly discarded 2x4.

You will need a boot with firm ankle protection to prevent twisted ankles.

Waterproofing would be nice as would cold insulation for the colder months of the year.

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