Get ahead this winter by researching and replacing your old work boots before it’s too late. So where do you start? What is right for your unique job? With all of the features, technology and safety attributes that are in work boots today, the search can be quite overwhelming.
Today’s workers are doing their own research online, in-store and through peer reviews. Below are a few helpful tips to help buyers in the search for selecting boots that will keep them safe and warm this winter.
Whether you are in construction, oil rigging or warehousing, each industry and occupation requires a unique set of footwear needs. Find work boots and shoes that fit your segment, such as:
ŝ Heavy Industrial – This is a highly specialized professional that works on hazardous jobsites with strict safety requirements. He/she deals with harsh elements including high heat, freezing cold, electricity and needs footwear that is tough, flexible, comfortable and built to last. Industries can include: Forestry, Petroleum, Mining, Railroad, Steelworks, Utilities and Masonry (to name a few).
ŝ Industrial – This industry includes skilled trade professionals who are highly experienced at his/her job. They can work both indoors and outdoors in professions such as Agriculture, Airport, Carpentry, Construction, Manufacturing, Mechanic and Tradesman. Common features and benefits to seek out include: EH, ESD, non-metallic, waterproof, flexible soles, slip and oil resistant etc.
ŝ Light Industrial – With the large expansion of warehousing due to companies like Amazon, the Light Industrial segment is growing rapidly and those in it are looking for a boot that keeps them feeling light on their feet and comfortable during long days on the job. Look for lightweight materials, foam midsoles or EVA, steel or composite toes to keep you safe from falling objects and slip resistant soles.
Type of environment
In general the industry and the work environment are directly correlated. Consider your working conditions i.e. indoor/outdoor, the type of terrain, chemical exposure etc. The answers to these questions will help you begin to formulate the type of protective attributes you will need.
Potential risks & hazards
It’s important to evaluate potential risks and hazards that can happen on the job. For example, if at risk for large falling objects, extreme slippage, handling heavy materials etc., choose footwear with safety toes, oil and slip resistance and features that will minimize those risks and keep you out of harm’s way.
Once you have identified your environment and the types of hazards you might encounter, use this list to ensure you buy the proper boot:
ŝ Toe protection (steel, alloy, composite) – Many workers prefer composite toes in the winter, unless otherwise required, as they will not cause feet to become as cold. Steel toes adhere to outside temperatures so wear thick socks if wearing steel in the winter.
ŝ Slip resistance – If working in roofing or on the highway, slip resistance is very important. When working in any icy conditions look for boots/shoes with high slip resistance ratings. Same goes for oil resistance.
ŝ Breathability of uppers – General rule of thumb is the lighter the industry, the more breathable you can buy. If working outside, choose footwear that is insulated, waterproof and with less breathability to ensure warmth.
ŝ Electrical protection – If in an industry requiring electrical safety, look for EH (Electrical Hazard) or ESD (Electrostatic Dissipating).
ŝ Metatarsal guard – The metatarsal guard is used to protect the top of the foot from compression injuries and should be used in any workplace where there are risks of large items falling, dropping or equipment rolling over the top of a foot.
ŝ Water resistance – No one wants cold wet feet in the winter, if you are outside looking for waterproof boots is a must.
ŝ Reflectivity – For those involved in roadwork and construction, some work boot brands now include reflective technology, keeping workers safe in low-light conditions.
Consider personal style
Safety footwear has come a long way in terms of work boot selection and now, instead of brown or black with steel toe or alloy, work boots are being constructed not only to fit safety needs, but also personal style. Whether looking for classic work boots or technology-driven, bold new boots in bright colors, there are now unique styles for every worker in today’s marketplace.