For employees who work on their feet in potentially hazardous settings, the footwear they have on affects much more than their personal comfort. The work boots employees wear significantly impact how safe they are on the job. If you work in construction zones or similar environments, here's a guide to selecting work boots that will help keep you safe.
Choose Boots in the Right Size
First, it's important to choose work boots that fit you properly. This may seem obvious, but many employees are tempted to get boots that are slightly too large or small because they're on sale. Resist the temptation to save on a pair of boots that don't fit perfectly so that you don’t end up with medical costs or lost wages due to an injury that exceeds any savings on price.
Fit isn't a one-dimensional measurement. Work boots that fit properly will:
- Be the correct length
- Be wide or narrow enough for your feet
- Have enough space above your foot to wear comfortably
Additionally, make sure the boots you select fit each of your feet correctly. Around 60 percent of people have two differently-sized feet. Don't assume your feet are the same size and only try the boots on one foot.
Make Sure the Boots Are Non-Slip
Second, you should only consider work boots that have non-slip soles. Slips and falls are the main cause of injuries that cause people to lose days from work, and they account for about 600 occupational fatalities each year. Having non-slip soles will help you keep your footing on a variety of work surfaces, including wet and slippery ones.
Select a Type of Protected Toe
Third, it's standard practice to have work boots with protected toes if you're working in a construction area or similarly hazardous setting. Work boots can come with three different types of safety toes: aluminum toes, steel toes and composite toes. The type of toe that is best for you will depend on what you're looking for in toe protection.
Aluminum toes are the lightest of the three options, but they're still suitable for most work environments. Many work boots that have aluminum toes still meet the American Section of the International Association for Testing Materials' (ASTM's) standards (steel and composite toes also meet the ASTM's guidelines).
Steel toes have long been used in work boots, and they provide great protection since steel is a strong metal. These toes have their drawbacks, though. They're the heaviest of the three options, and steel conducts temperature. The latter is a consideration for anyone who works outdoors in cold winter weather.
Composite toes have the strength of steel toes but aren't made of metal. Instead, they're composed of a composite material that's lighter and doesn't transfer temperature as much. Because these toes have a lower thermal conductivity and don't contain metal, they're frequently worn in cold weather and settings where metal isn't allowed.
Consider a Metatarsal Guard
A metatarsal guard goes over the laces of work boots to protect the top of the toes, foot and ankle. It provides protection from falling objects, including heavy materials and hot embers.
If you're working in a setting where heavy or hot items may fall on your feet, look for work boots that have a metatarsal guard. It could help protect your foot from fractures, bruises and burns. Feet and ankles are especially susceptible to injuries because they contain 26 bones, which is about 25 percent of the bones in the body. Many of these bones are quite small.
For help finding work boots that are suited for your occupation and work environment, contact us at Bargain Center. We can help keep you safe from work-related injuries.