The human foot is made of dozens of tiny individual bones, as well as numerous muscles, ligaments, and nerves. On top of that, the foot serves as a necessary component to one of our most basic methods of transportation. It’s safe to say that without the use of our feet we’d have difficulty going anywhere. Unfortunately, our feet are easily smashed by falling objects, run over by cars, slammed into doors, and many other dangerous activities. That’s why it’s critical to have proper safety footwear to make sure one of your body’s most vital parts is kept safe during both everyday and potentially dangerous activities, both on and off duty.
It can be difficult, with modern technological advances, to keep track of what’s the best material or component for safety footwear. There are a number of brands, such as 5.11, Mascot, and Bates that all provide safety footwear, but of varying specifications and materials. It’s not as easy as simply picking the heaviest or most inflexible boots. Advancements in technology have reduced the need for extra thick materials and opened the way for equally safe but much more flexible and breathable options. Here are some of the features to consider when making your safety footwear purchase:
Recently, safety footwear has started moving towards a more athletic look and feel. With this trend has come advancements in synthetic materials, which can be more lightweight and durable than leather. If you’re used to wearing sneakers or other athletic footwear, then choosing something with synthetic materials may be more comfortable and familiar to you. It may also be preferable if you’re on your feet a lot or anticipate foot pursuits.
However, leather is still a viable option. Leather is breathable, durable, and naturally molds to the shape of your foot for extra comfort. There are also shoes that combine the use of leather as well as synthetic materials, which results in a shoe that has the best of both worlds. The height of the shoe is also something to take into consideration. If you find yourself often working in places with debris or in the outdoors, then consider shoes that extend to at least eight or ten inches in height to protect your lower legs and ankles.
For the outsoles of safety shoes, you’ll typically see the traditional rubber bottoms since it provides excellent anti-slip and grip qualities to prevent you from slipping in wet weather or when walking on slick surfaces. Various synthetic rubbers have also started hitting the market such as TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane), PU (polyurethane) and EVA (Ethel-Vinyl-Acetate) which promote a lighter weight, greater flexibility, and greater cushioning. You may want to purchase shoes that are puncture resistant, as unknown nails and other sharp objects can pierce a lesser quality shoe and cause serious injury.
Additionally, you never know when you may respond to a particularly messy call or crime scene, which could contain blood borne pathogens or toxic chemicals. If this is a normal hazard in your occupation, then make sure your shoes are blood borne and pathogen resistant.
Finally, the most common feature associated with safety footwear is the toecap. This, typically steel, cap covers the toe end of the shoe to prevent accidents like sudden blows to the foot or sudden compression. In public safety, it’s crucial to protect your feet from potential harm since it’s easy for your feet to be run over, stepped on or crushed. The human toe is fairly fragile, and it takes the natural strength of steel to provide that added protection to the area. However, some shoes have started using aluminum alloys instead of steel. These toecaps are typically more durable, but are much heavier as the material needs to be layered on thicker than steel.
In the end, it all depends on what you’re looking for, as there are a number of different options to choose when deciding what pair of safety footwear works for you.