Best foot forward - The importance of wearing the correct footwear

Guide To Workplace Safety Shoes & Boots

The importance of wearing the correct footwear.

Choosing the right footwear in any job role is a crucial decision because as well as being comfortable, it also needs to protect against potential hazards and all types of environmental conditions.

Nowadays there are lots of styles available, from heavy duty wellington and rigger boots at one end of the spectrum through to slip-on shoes and hiker style trainers at the other.

Rigger boots are often best suited to building sites and other extreme outdoor environments and usually feature steel toecaps and steel midsoles to offer a high level of protection from falling objects and sharp objects that could penetrate the sole. If the boot also needs to be completely waterproof, or able to withstand acids, oils and chemicals, then safety wellingtons provide a great solution.

For less rugged safety footwear there are a variety of boot and shoe styles that come with or without steel toecaps and reinforced soles. Leather remains the material of choice for many of these due to its durable, water resistant and robust qualities, although it can be heavier and less breathable than some other materials. Plus, while it is often more expensive, specially treated waterproof leather is another great option for lots of workers.

In addition, nubuck and nylon mesh safety trainers and hiking style boots continue to grow in popularity. These are breathable, lightweight and comfortable but they offer less water resistance than leather which makes them particularly good for indoor job roles, that offer dry conditions and minimal risks from puncture wounds.
A huge number of workplace injuries are caused by people slipping so lots of footwear comes with slip resistant soles to solve this and for those working in cold conditions there are plenty of insulated boots to choose from.

Another consideration is whether to go for a boot that offers ankle protection. Lots of styles come with padded collars that are designed to be comfortable and provide a good level of support, which can be beneficial for people who are on their feet all day.

When it comes to deciding on what size to go for, it is worth remembering that while regular footwear can soften up and expand over time, steel-toe caps make footwear far less flexible so it is important to make sure they are a good fit from the beginning. People wearing insulated footwear in cold temperatures will also often wear thicker socks so it can be worth buying a slightly bigger boot to accommodate this.