Steel toe boots are essentials of PPE clothing. At minimum, they need to offer adequate protection.
However, the best steel toe work boots provide more than just protection: they should enable workers to do their jobs, even under demanding conditions, in safety and comfort.
Let’s consider these two factors in turn: the protective capabilities of steel toe boots, and the way materials and design can affect their comfort and utility at the workplace.
1. Measuring workplace safety
In order to comply with regulations for construction sites, factories and other industrial settings, steel toe work boots must meet the relevant independent safety footwear standards.
You may have noticed that, in accordance with those standards, quality protective footwear lists steel toe cap protection of 200 joules. Joules are units of energy, which may seem like a needlessly complicated way of telling you how much protection work boots offer. Wouldn’t it be easier to list the amount of weight the steel cap protects against?
It’s not so simple. Consider the following: a 20kg weight falling from 1 metre will have a lower impact force than a 20kg weight falling from 10 metres. In some cases, a heavier weight falling from a lower height will have less impact than a lighter weight falling from a larger height. Listing the steel cap safety level in a measure of energy lets you calculate how much protection the steel toe boots afford under different real-world conditions.
Given these complexities, it is always a good idea to speak to an experienced consultant to get a practical sense of how much protection various steel toe boots provide, and whether they are suitable for your workplace.
Steel toe work boots aren’t just about front foot protection. Depending on the industry and application, other protective criteria may also be important. For example, the addition of a steel midsole will prevent penetration from sharp objects. Certain industries may require boots that offer fuel and oil resistance.
Again, it’s a good idea to speak to a sales consultant and go through the full range of options, to choose the steel toe work boots that are best suited to the full range of conditions under which you will require them to perform.
2. Comfort, utility and strength
Of course, safety is the paramount consideration when it comes to protective workplace footwear. But the very best work boots offer a lot more than that.
After all, steel toe boots are usually worn under demanding work conditions, often for hours at a time. Workers cannot be expected to spend a full shift hampered by cumbersome, uncomfortable protective gear.
The best protective work boots provide the flexibility to do the jobs without hindrance as well as durability to protect the integrity of the boots. More durable boots may also be better from a price perspective, as they don’t need to be replaced as often.
Comfort in quality
The use of quality materials is the most reliable indicator of quality and durability. Work boots constructed from genuine leather and other rugged materials will tend to be more comfortable on the job and more resistant to the wear and tear of a demanding workplace.
Be sure to purchase the boots from a reputable supplier of protective work materials, to ensure the materials are genuine and the appropriate safety standards have been met.
And always bear in mind that not every boot will be equally suitable for every person – and not all steel toe boots are equally suited for every job.
The best work boots will be those that are well-designed, made from quality materials and built to meet the demands of the workplace for which they are required.