The most common feature of safety shoes is a steel toe cap in work boots. In some industries, that is the extent of safety precautions needed. In many others, that is only one feature required to remain safe. Working on construction sites, in mining tunnels, or around electrical wires, among other dangerous conditions means additional safety is needed.
Water resistance is primarily a feature to protect the leather material of the boots. That provides longevity and keeps feet and ankles dry. It also provides a secondary source of electrical hazard protection. Electricity is attracted to water and metal. A wet pair of steel toed work boots make workers vulnerable to shock.
Ignition hazards may also be a danger when working with electricity, flammables, and certain chemicals or liquid solutions. Boots with a static dissipation feature offers protection from ignition hazards.
Heat and Puncture Protection
Thick and durable outer soles are another safety feature. Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) soles are required for most occupations. This material is more durable than rubber, will resist punctures, and is actually more flexible.
An outer sole made of nitrile can withstand high temperatures. That protects feet from burns, keeps debris from melting into the sole, and lasts longer under extreme conditions. Depending on the thickness of the material, nitrile can hold up to temperatures as high as five-hundred and seventy-two degree Fahrenheit.
A Quick Getaway
Work boots that have a zipper on the side, as well as laces in the front, provide a fast way to get boots off in the event of an emergency or injury. An explosion, a chemical spill, machinery dropping on the foot, or swelling of the foot or ankle requires immediate attention. Easy access for medical personnel or opening the side of the boot when the foot will not go through the top can make the difference between recovering from an injury or loosing a foot.
Deciding Which Features are Necessary
Employers will inform workers what features are required for safety based on the job duties and the environment. Some companies will even have suggestions regarding high-quality manufacturers that make a boot with the appropriate safety features. If details are not provided, be sure to ask for clarification before purchasing work boots. Safety is as much your responsibility as it is for the employer.