A Beginner’s Guide To Work Boots

A Beginner's Guide To Work Boots

If you are reading this, it is likely that you are a hardworking woman or men who are looking for a pair of best work boots and knows their importance. It is hard to predict the risks of injuries that work involves; so, it is better you prepare for everything.  Just within a few seconds, things could get rough.

Although it is nearly impossible to have a full grasp of what may happen in the future, you should prepare in every way possible. Seasoned workers in a variety of industries such as construction and manufacturing understand the importance of high-quality work boots.

Women Work Boots

Keep in mind that choosing a suitable pair of work boots could achieve plenty more than only protecting your toes. The best work boots will keep you safe and stable on slippery surfaces, prevent electrical accidents and nail injuries. They will also keep your toes from freezing in cold winter temperatures.

What Are Work Boots?

Work boots (also known as safety shoes, steel-capped boots or safety boots) are durable boots that have a protective or safety reinforcement in the toe. The safety reinforcement helps protect your foot from compression or falling objects. The product has a premium midsole plate that protects against punctures from below.

While traditionally the reinforcement is made of steel, the boots can have composite materials for added safety as well. These materials include plastic such as thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) or, sometimes, even aluminum. Work boots are essential in the construction industry as well as in several industrial settings.

Also, insurance requirements and occupational safety and health laws could mandate the use of these boots in a variety of settings. These regulations and laws may also require certification of work boots along with the display of the certification on the shoes directly.

Wearing Work Boots

Keep in mind that the markings found on the boot label usually indicate the international or national standards that the work boot was meant to meet. These markings also identify the degree of protection provided for impact, electric shock, penetration and chemical hazards.

Moreover, footwear used in semiconductor manufacturing or chemical processing might be rated to dissipate or dispel static electricity while protecting the workers against electric shock.

Work shoes are now available in a variety of styles, such as clogs and sneakers, designed to meet the diverse needs and preferences of different workers and different industries. Some footwear is very formal; this includes work boot for supervisory engineers who have to visit work sites which mandate protective footwear.

Many types of work shoes can make your job safer and more efficient; these boots do not necessarily have to heavy-duty such as steel toe boots. There are many other kinds of safety shoes and boots that could provide arch support, traction, and other safety features.

To find the best foot protection for your specific job and workplace, you will have to perform a hazard assessment. It will help you determine the types of risks like falling or slipping or sharp or pointed objects that may pose a serious threat to you. Then choose a pair of boots or shoes that provide the right protection.

When Are Work Boots Used?

Work boots and shoes are used in a variety of industries and occupations to help keep employees safe. Protection of your feet could help prevent or reduce the risk of various types of injuries that may take place.

Work boots and footwear is extremely vital as it creates a much safer, efficient and better work environment. It is why work shoes must be durable, comfortable and reliable and keep your feet protected from any harm or workplace accidents.

List Of Occupations That Use Work Boots

The troubling thing is that a majority of men and women nowadays, tend to overlook these facts and end up buying low quality and cheaper shoes. Many of them believe that expensive footwear is uncomfortable. We will discuss some of the occupations that use work boots.

Carpenter

Carpenters often wear lace-up work boots; these boots are between five inches to eight inches to offer optimal ankle support. The support is vital whether you are working on an entire house or just a single piece of furniture. Moreover, you should opt for waterproof work boots for this occupation.

Carpenter Work Boots

A puncture-resistant and slip-resistant outsole can help as well. It would help keep you safe in case you are doing outdoor woodworking or carpentry. It is likely that you would climb a ladder several times to go up the house.

It is why the outsole of the work boots must have a strong shank. It will lower the impact on your calves and feet when you climb up the ladder. A well-cushioned outsole can keep the feet comfy while standing on surfaces like concrete.

Electrician

An electrician’s work boots should have a safety certification from either the CSA or the ASTM. Also, a certification that your work boots are resistant to electrical shocks is essential.

As handling electrical equipment and wires is a routine part of your job, you should look for appropriate safety symbols. These symbols include the CSA White Rectangle and the CSA Yellow Rectangle.

It goes without saying that you cannot ignore the Super Static Dissipative symbol. Your work boots should offer adequate ankle protection. The leather must be waterproof, while the outsole must resist punctures.

Construction Worker

Construction work requires you to tackle demanding labor on a consistent basis. That is why it is vital to wear lace-up shoes with sufficient support for your ankles, whether you are on top of a tall building or a highway. The outsole must be puncture-resistant. Also, they should have the ASTM or the CSA approval for electrical shock resistance.

Moreover, experts recommend using work shoes with oil-tanned grain leather. It is because this kind of leather can resist various hydraulic fluids. 

HVAC Worker

HVAC professionals take care of ventilation, heating and air conditioning issues. They require waterproof boots with excellent cushioning. There should also be adequate ankle support as well as puncture resistance. HVAC workers should wear flat-shaped outsoles; it will help keep dirt away as you go from one home to another.

HVAC Worker Boots

Mason

For bricklayers and masons, it is ideal to use lace-up work boots to get proper ankle support. Also, the outsoles should be well-cushioned as you will stay on concrete surfaces for extended time periods. Also, a great pair of work shoes for masons will use oil-tanned leather as it can resist calcium and lime.

Welder

Welders often have to handle a variety of materials like steel, aluminum, and brass. Ideally, work boots designed for welders must feature a pull-on style. The footwear should be sturdy and durable enough to protect you from sparks and slag.

The awful residue usually comes out from ore refinements and smelting. Similarly, oil-tanned leather is preferable while the outsole should be resistant to puncturing. Also, look out for soles that are both resistant to heat and flexible.

Dock Worker

People who work at docks require waterproof work boots. The outsoles must resist slips as well as punctures with ease. Like other occupations, these boots should offer adequate ankle support. It is also advisable for dock workers to wear boots with impact-cushioning properties.

Truck Driver

Truck drivers usually spend a lot of time on the roads delivering goods. As a result, these workers need pull-on or lace-up work boots made of light leather. It would improve not only comfort but also flexibility. Moreover, a cushioned outsole can better handle impact absorption.

Another thing to look for is a sturdy sole as it will not succumb to abrasion from metallic and asphalt surfaces. You can find these features on motorcycle boots as well as they also designed for traveling on the road.

What Sets Work Boots Apart From Other Boots?

Work boots are different from other types of footwear such as hiking boots or sports shoes. Work boots are specially designed to protect users from a variety of potential work hazards.

Hitting Boot With An Axe

There are various features of work boots that set them apart from standard footwear. These features include metatarsal guards, safety toe guards, electrical hazard ratings, customized soles and electrostatic dissipating ratings. These features are:

Safety Toe Guards

It is a feature that originated way back in 1925. Safety toe guards aim to lower the risk of foot injuries. Since their advent in 1925, the American National Standards Institute has implemented safety standards for work footwear. These standards have two primary requirements that require all work footwear to include: compression and impact absorption features.

There are several kinds of safety toes, made from different materials such as steel, titanium, and alloy. Although all types of toe guards allow for superior protection, a lot of workers prefer composite toe and steel toe in their work footwear.

Metatarsal Guards

Work boots that have metatarsal guards can help protect your toe and upper foot from heavy and bulky falling objects, mainly if you work in the construction industry.

However, keep in mind that this extra protection is also essential for welders or women or men working in dangerous environments where warm materials or falling embers might be a significant concern. These metatarsal guards could be attached to your work shoes both externally and internally.

There are many incredible products available on the market that take foot protection to the next level when it comes to footwear. Some manufacturers provide enhanced abrasion-resistance, which is usually incorporated into the boot upper to offer more protection to both the upper and lower part your foot. For artisans who work near open flames, many boots have fire-resistance.

Soles

Various durable and sturdy materials make incredible outsoles, which are slip-resistant, long-wearing and protective. While specific industries might require a particular element, it is vital to have a good understanding of various options as it would help you make the best decision. Rubber is a ubiquitous outsole material and is usually oil, abrasion, and slip-resistant.

Work Boots Sole

Today a majority of manufacturers have their proprietary rubbers; this allows the outsoles to have extra performance and safety attributes. On the other hand, outsoles made of TPU is long-wearing and oil, abrasion, and chemical-resistant.TPU outsoles are quite robust, and often resist splitting; they are also more lightweight compared to their rubber counterparts.

Electrical Protection

This type of footwear is usually electrical hazard rated. Work boots with electrical protection are designed to protect you from open circuits generally up to 600 volts. This type of shoe is excellent for people working in or near a factory or plant, like plant operating personnel.

The construction of this footwear comprises of a sole and heel combination molded into a single piece without the use of any metal or nails.  

Construction

Work shoes should always offer a high degree of flexibility, weight, and performance. Nowadays, many footwear companies are constantly innovating and enhancing construction methods and techniques to improve the comfort and durability of the boots.

One popular construction method is cement construction. It refers to a boot's sole cemented upwards. A benefit of this construction method is that it is flexible and lightweight. However, it is essential to keep in mind that cement constructed shoes can't be re-soled. On the other hand, welt construction offers durability for the boot as the inner sole and upper is stitched together using a leather welt or strip.

Then the shoe-sole is stitched through the welt. A benefit of this process is that it allows you quickly repair or re-sole the boots, thus increasing the durability of the footwear.  

Water Resistance

Water-resistant work boots are an ideal choice if you work in wet conditions on a regular basis and moisture is a concern. Working outside usually implies exposure to the elements, and it is likely you will get wet which increases the risk of slipping.

Also, keeping the feet dry will help protect them from the cold. Moreover, water-resistant work boots will protect you against rot, mold and fungus growth.

Support

As you will be wearing the work boots for extended periods of time on a daily basis, the right amount and kind of support are equally significant as safety and comfort. Adequate support will help avoid discomfort and blisters that could adversely affect your work performance.

Wearing Work Boots

Metal Instep

Work boots often have metal insteps to ensure feet protection against a variety of accidents, outward injuries and dangerous and sharp objects. These kinds of safety boots are explicitly designed to safeguard and protect your feet from pointy and sharp objects such as nails, shards of glass and other metallic objects.

Employees who work in substantial industrial factories that manufacture glass objects and machinery often wear these work shoes.

Work Boot Safety Standards Around The World

There is a variety of work boot safety standards around the world designed to keep employees safe and efficient in their jobs. Some of the prominent ones include rules issued by OSHA, ANSI, and ASTM.

OSHA Requirements

According to OSHA standards for workplace footwear, every employee is required to wear protective and stable work boots when working in places which are more prone to foot injuries because of rolling or falling objects, or objects that can pierce the shoe sole.

The same applies to employees exposed to various electrical hazards. Multiple occupations require people to have adequate foot protection. These include receiving and shipping clerks, carpenters, stock clerks, electricians, mechanics, machinists and repairers, assemblers, plumbers, drywall installers and lathers.

ANSI Requirements

According to the latest update of ANSI Standards, manufactures and suppliers of protective footwear should have independent and objective laboratory test results to confirm their compliance with ANSI standards. These requirements mandate that all shoe must be electrical hazard protected, and offer protection from penetration and punctures.

According to these standards, conductive footwear is designed to protect the workers in environments where the risk of buildup of static electricity in the person’s body could lead to a hazard.

The shoe is made to dissipate and dispel state electricity from a person's body to the ground. For the shoes to qualify for this category, the boots should have an electrical resistance in the range of zero and 500,000 ohms.

Testing Work Boots On Machine

For the products to qualify as electrical hazard footwear, work boots must be manufactured using non-conductive and electrical shock resistant heals and soles. This footwear is intended to offer a secondary means of protection from accidental contact with a live electrical circuit, electrically energized parts, conductors or apparatus.

The shoe should be capable of enduring the application of about 14,000 volts at the rate of 60 hertz for at least one minute without leaking current more than three milliamperes, under dry conditions.

ASTM Requirements

These standards contain performance requirements for work boots to protect employees' feet from various hazards. The footwear must provide:

  • Impact resistance for a worker’s toe area of the footwear (about 75 foot-pounds)
  • Metatarsal impact protection to reduce the risk of injury to the workers’ metatarsal bones near the top of your foot (about75 foot-pounds)
  • Compression resistance for your toe area embedded in the footwear (about 75/ 2,500 pounds)
  • Conductive properties to reduce a variety of hazards that may arise due to static electricity buildup; it should also minimize the risk of ignition of volatile chemicals and explosives (electrical resistance should be in the range of zero and 500,000 ohms)
  • Static dissipative properties to lower hazards caused by low footwear electrical resistance
  • Protection from electric hazards, to safeguard the workers in cases where accidental contact occurs by stepping on a live electrical wire

How To Properly Maintain Your Work Boots

Your work footwear helps keep you dry, warm, and comfortable throughout the day. If you take proper care of your boots, they will take care of you for a longer time. In case you are wondering how you can keep your work boots neat and tidy, here are some tips for your work shoes care. 

  • Rinse dirt and mud off your work boots on a daily basis. Keep in mind that if you let them accumulate grime and dirt, they would start rotting fast. Use a cloth and leather cleaner for this purpose
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    Clean or scrub them properly once per month at least. Remove the laces and insoles and remove any clumps of mud or dirt with a brush or hand
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    Mix some water and boot cleaner and scrub your boots with a stiff brush soaked in this solution
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    Let them dry in a ventilated area
  • It is a good idea to waterproof your shows by applying a waterproofing wax, cream, or spray once per month (after you have cleaned them). Do it twice a month if you work in wet environments
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    Make it a habit of storing your work boots in a dry and well-ventilated area
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    Apply good-quality conditioning oil on the boots if they start cracking

If you follow the above tips, your boots will easily last three to four years.

Conclusion

We have discussed what work boots are and when you should use them. We have highlighted a variety of occupations that require specialized work boots. These include construction workers, dock workers, drivers, electricians and carpenters among others.

Workers Wearing Timberland Work Boots

We have discussed in detail the different features of work boots that set them apart from ordinary boots. These include construction, soles, steel-tipped toes and metatarsal guards. We have also discussed various safety standards about work footwear such as OSHA and ANSI.

We have provided step-by-step instructions on how you can clean and maintain your work boots. Our buying guide will discuss the different features that you should consider when buying work boots along with some recommendations.

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