Road construction workers face a number of hazards every day on the job. Combine heavy work with loud machinery, large earthmovers and construction vehicles, elevated work and falling hazards, passing motorists from active roadways, and a whole host of cutting, crushing, and tripping hazards, and you have a work site with a large number of potential accidents. Engineering practices, safe working procedures, and effective personal protective equipment programs address all of these hazards. However, one aspect of road construction job site safety and occupational health is often overlooked.
Industrial footwear is one of the most important pieces of PPE for productive workers. Besides protecting from a laundry list of hazards, the right footwear is essential for maintaining good posture and occupational health as well as preventing sprains and fatigue. In order to meet the needs of construction workers, steel toe boots are often the number one choice for industrial footwear. Let us take a look at why that is so.
Support And Protection – Getting The Right Fit
Like any other piece of personal protective equipment, steel toe boots have to be sized properly in order to provide the maximum benefit. For this reason, it is important for every worker to try on many different pairs and styles of industrial footwear to find the perfect fit. The boots should fit snuggly around the foot, have ample room for toes, and securely hug the ankles without restricting circulation. Be aware that steel toe boots made from leather will always be a little stiff, sacrificing some flexibility for more support. Hybrid material steel toe boots can be purchased that combine leather with nylon for a balanced amount of support and flexibility.
How Steel Toe Boots Protect Workers
These boots really offer a wide range of protective qualities that makes them one of the best types of industrial footwear. With water resistant coatings and some specialty soles, these boots can be effective PPE for many different job conditions.
First, the steel plating protects against a number of crushing and impact hazards as well as stubbed toes, ultimately preventing many foot and toe fractures. The durable leather material also goes a long way to stopping cuts and abrasions. High ankle styles will prevent sprains and twisted ankles while also offering posture support. Padded insoles can increase comfort and reduce fatigue. If using an insert, boots should be sized upwards about a half of a size in order to retain the same fit. Low ankle styles grant a great range of motion and flexibility for one’s feet. Deep treads and non-slip soles help to prevent slips, trips, and falls from uneven working surfaces, standing water, and outdoor environments.
Leather is a naturally water-resistant material, and with additional coatings, steel toe boots can be effective against standing water. Waterproof linings can be added to the inside of boots for an alternative method for repelling water. For deep pools of liquid, knee-high rubber boots can be worn over steel toe boots. These coatings can also be applied to offer protection against mild corrosive chemical spills. Leather can take quite a beating from chemicals before degrading; however, chemical action will render their water-proofing qualities ineffective.
Choosing The Right Brand
Industrial footwear is a type of personal protective equipment that should be custom fitted to each worker and be an investment in safety. They are not disposable items, but durable pieces of industrial apparel that have to emphasize quality over price. Accordingly, steel toe boots under $90 are not suitable for industrial work; the price ceiling on boots should be around $200. These prices offer the best combination of quality products with an affordable per-person price. If the price tag seems steep, remember that rugged footwear will have a long lifetime.
Name brands are the best bet when purchasing industrial footwear. Some of the top brands include Bates, Rocky, Nautilus, Georgia Boot, Wolverine, Timberland, and Danner. A large offering of different brands allows for a better fit for each worker.
Boot construction can also be a buying factor. The most expensive design, stitch down construction, can be resoled and repaired over time. Less expensive designs include cement construction and direct attach, where the two halves of the footwear are directly glued or molded together.
The right industrial footwear is a vital part of effective personal protective equipment. Workers are on their feet all day and rely on the support and protection of steel toe boots, even if their feet are not on their minds. Industrial footwear makes all the difference for the safety and health of everyone on the job.