Some of the most common workplace accidents involve the feet - 25% of disability applications worldwide are due to injured feet. Falling objects, chemicals, uneven and slippery surfaces and debris on the floor can cause harm to workers’ feet. Safety foot wear is essential to reduce on-the-job injury to feet which can put employees out of action for lengthy periods of time. In Canada the number of foot injuries decreased by 60% after the use of safety shoes at work became compulsory. Anyone who works with heavy machinery, hazardous items and chemicals should wear the corresponding safety shoes, reducing the likelihood of serious accidents.
What makes a good safety shoe? It should be made of an outer material such as leather or polyurethane which is resistant to water, oil and any other chemicals. The sole of the shoe or boot should be slip resistant and heat resistant. The sole should also have anti-puncture qualities to prevent sharp objects from penetrating through the sole. The inner sole of the shoe must provide additional protection as well as comfort as they are often worn for long periods of time. Some safety shoes have a reflective strip on the shoe to increase the visibility of workers.
Steel-capped boots are essential for workplaces where falling objects and sharp debris are common. They are generally durable boots made from either natural or synthetic materials with a protective reinforcement in the toe to shield the foot from falling objects or compression as well as a mid-sole plate to protect against punctures from below.
Shoes with slip-resistant soles assist in avoiding accidents where workers could be hurt by falling on a slippery or uneven surface such as in a factory or a building site, risking injury to areas of the body beyond just the feet. Gumboots are good anti-slip shoes and come in a number of styles and lengths, including be slip-on versions or up to mid-calf length. The plastic upper of the boot is usually resistant to materials such as oil, fat, blood and certain chemicals as well as being completely waterproof making them a durable and practical choice for many workplaces.
Electricity also poses a danger to workers and wearing suitable shoes with non-conductive properties can reduce the chance of an electric shock. Rubber, leather and other materials are good choices as they don’t conduct electricity. Protective safety shoes, conductive footwear or those with anti-static properties are necessary if you work in places where there is a lot of potential static build-up which can also be dangerous.
In addition to ensuring workers’ feet are protected, wearing safety shoes allows them to work with greater confidence. Safety shoes are also designed to be comfortable and ensure that even after long hours on their feet, employees are not left with aches and pains.