All PPE is essential, but when looking at your gear from the ground up (literally) it all begins with your safety footwear. The footwear you choose will make a huge difference to your comfort and safety at work. There are many types of safety boots and shoes out there for different working conditions and environments. The question is how to choose which footwear is appropriate for you, and the environment you’re working in.
A decent work boot or shoe should, at the very least, offer a basic safety SBP rating, which includes:
Protective toe cap to protect toes against falling debris or dropped tools
Midsole penetration protection to help protect the sole of the foot against sharp objects, such as nails or screws
Let’s have a closer look at the types of safety boots out there and what would be right for the job you need to do.
Being on your feet all day, in sometimes challenging conditions and on uneven surfaces, can lead to aches and pains in your feet and ankles, with the additional risk of ankle twists and sprains. With ankle boots providing a good level of support, you will benefit from much greater stability.
Reduces risk of turning or twisting ankles. Protection against knocks and bumps to ankle bone.
Working on slippery surfaces and uneven ground.
As we all know, the British weather has no respect for deadlines, so when you find yourself on site in relentless rain or falling snow, it’s essential to have the right gear for the job to ensure your comfort. In these types of conditions, it’s worth considering water-resistant or fully waterproof footwear.
Prevents rain and snow from seeping in, improved sole grip, extra warmth.
Building in more extreme weather conditions.
The cold can be just as uncomfortable as wet conditions. It pays to be prepared for cold snaps, and by having a pair of insulated safety boots you can keep the chill at bay. Your toes will certainly thank you!
Able to work effectively in colder conditions.
Autumn/winter building and when working on colder, draughty sites. These aren’t always waterproof, so keep this in mind.
Footwear that has toe and sole protection made from composite materials, as opposed to steel. Lightweight footwear can be particularly beneficial in hot conditions or for those working indoors. In hot weather, it’s also worth checking if the product offers a good level of breathability.
Breathable, with improved flexibility.
Building in warmer weather, or hot environments, such as kitchens.
All day comfort is of paramount importance to tradespeople. To achieve the maximum comfort, consider things like the quality and type of insole - some offer a lot more cushioning than others. Consider the materials; are they water resistant, are they breathable, are they flexible? Does the sole possess shock-absorbing qualities? What is the weight of the product? The heavier the product, the more fatigue you will experience. These are all factors worth looking into.
Yes, there are safety wellington boots with protective toe caps and mid plates. Some of these also have fleece lining to protect against the cold. These make a great wet-weather staple for most contractors, and it’s a great idea to keep a pair close at hand for convenience, especially with our unpredictable weather.
Slip-proof and water-resistant.
Working on wet, partially flooded sites. Farming/Construction.
Again, it’s a matter of taste and the conditions in which you’re working. PPE and fashion don’t always go hand in hand, but nowadays, there are lots of great-looking safety footwear to choose from. Safety trainers can look good, both on and off site, and offer all the important safety benefits, as well as the additional perks of being lightweight and cooler to wear in the Summer.
Lightweight and breathable. Some safety trainers also have anti-bacterial soles or uppers to help reduce odour.
Working in warm conditions.
Often it’s a matter of personal taste, the conditions you’re working in or the level of personal protection you’re looking for. While safety shoes have the benefit of being lightweight, and are less bulky and hot to wear in the summer, they offer less with regards to ankle protection and stability.
Most tradespeople tend to have both options so that they can choose depending on the circumstances. However, the two most important things to remember when choosing safety footwear, or any protective gear, are:
1. Never wear second hand boots or shoes. Worn or partially damaged PPE is going to reduce your protection significantly.
2. Always stick to on-site safety guidelines. Protective clothing, shoes, and hardware are only part of the safety measures necessary for looking after yourself and others.
If you want to know more about Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), read our PPE Guide for more information.
We have a full range of footwear and clothing, including jackets and hi-viz items, available to order at Travis Perkins today.