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Safety Footwear Buyers Guide

 

SAFETY FOOTWEAR BUYERS GUIDE

Your guide to selecting and buying the correct safety footwear for your requirements.

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Before selecting safety footwear you should refer to a recent existing risk assessment for the workplace you are buying for, or carry one out if one does not already exist. This will give you a clear understanding of the hazards you wish to protect against - allowing you to select the most appropriate PPE for your working environment. PPE, including safety footwear, should always be used as a 'a last resort' after all other reasonable or practical measures have been taken to manage the risk. Performing a risk assessment is a good way to identify new or missed hazards and to put measurements in place to control them. In situations where it is not possible or practical to manage risks at the source, PPE will be used as a main line of defence against the hazard, so it is crucial that your PPE meets legal standards and is used correctly by all staff affected by the risk. PPE should be periodically reviewed as new, improved styles may have become available and protective kit should be regularly checked for faults and properly maintained - staff should be encouraged to report faults or problems with their PPE. 

When performing a risk assessment for safety footwear, some points you may want to consider are:

Is there a risk of falling objects? All safety shoes should have toe cap protection - steel or composite.
Is there a risk of sharp objects penetrating the sole of the shoe? Choose a shoe or boot with steel or composite midsole protection.
Is there a need for metatarsal protection? Could objects damage/ crush the whole foot? Look for boots with a metatarsal protector covering the bridge of the shoe.
Is there a need for cut protection (ie Chainsaw operation)? Specialist chainsaw boots are available. Other types of safety boot will probably not meet legal specifications for this use.
Are there slippery surfaces in the workplace? Make sure the boots or shoes you choose have a non-slip sole.
Are acids/ alkalis/ chemicals present in the workplace? Look for boots/ shoes/ wellies with acid/ alkali/ chemical resistant sole and consider if they will provide enough coverage. It will help to know what types of chemical/ acid are being used and you may need to call us to ensure the footwear you select meets your requirements.
Is heel or ankle support required? Is there a risk of twisting or spraining the ankle? Choose boots that rise up the ankle and provide a secure fit - lace ups will help staff adjust the fit. Shoes and boots with shock absorber heels are also available.
Is there a risk of contact with molten metal? Look for foundry boots and note that some cover right up the calf whereas others are ankle high.
Is there a risk of contact with temperature extremes? Ensure that the boots or shoes you select have a heat resistant sole - tested to the required temperature for your needs. Cold store boots or wellies will be insulated and should have breathable qualities. Cold store boots are tested for up to one hour in conditions usually between -20 and -30ºC.
Are minor irritant substances present? Rigger style boots give more protection as they are higer, giving extra coverage, and there is no lace section where dust may enter through.
Are there biohazard risks such as in Healthcare? Opt for safety shoes which are easy-clean and machine washable.  
Is the employee on their feet for long hours? Look for a comfortable sole and consider if insoles may be required. A shock-absorber heel would also be beneficial.
Are employees working in very wet or damp conditions? There is a wide range of safety wellingtons, with toe cap and midsole protection, which also offer protection against water and some also offer chemical resistance or thermal insulation.  

 

The Safety Footwear section on our website breaks down our range into several categories:

Standard Safety Boots.

These are all-round safety boots which meet EU safety standards and incorporate various safety features such as steel toe caps, steel midsoles, non-slip, or heat and acid resisitant, soles, shock absorber heels etc. This range is suitable for many applications and generally suitable for those working in the construction industry.

Composite and Metal Free Safety Footwear.

Composite safety boots utilise plastic and a kevlar fabric, in place of metal, at the toe cap and mid-sole sections, meaning they are idea for metal free environments as well as having additional benefits. Composite toe caps are equal in strength to steel and will return to their original shape if crushed, once the crushing object is removed, making it easier to remove the foot from the boot. Kevlar fabric mid-sole protection provides cover to 100% of the sole, whereas steel plates cannot cover right up to the edge of the foot - leaving about 20% exposed. Metal free and composite boots are also much lighter, improving comfort for the wearer. It is worth noting that metal-free boots will contain absolutely no metal, whereas composite boots may contain metal fastenings or embellishments.

Safety Shoes and Trainers.

A lighter and smarter safety shoe is ideal for those working in shops, warehouses, healthcare and for office workers who occassionally need to go to higher risk areas. Safety trainers are a more casual style for those who prefer not to wear standard safety boots. The relaxed and comfortable style of safety trainers make them ideal for tradesmen, delivery drivers and are also a popular choice for school and college activities as fashion conscious students are more willing to wear them.

Rigger Boots.

Rigger Boots have seen an increase in popularity in recent years, most likely because they provide many of the features of a standard safety boot with the style and ease of use of a wellington. They are easy to clean and provide a comfortable fit. They are particularly useful in environments where cement and other irritants are present; cement dust can get into safety boots and shoes and cause cement burn. The higher length of rigger boots offers greater protection against this. They are not recommended for welders or those working in a foundry where hot materials may drop into the top of the boot. Different construction sites have their own rules about whether lace-up safety boots or rigger boots are to be used and these rules should be observed by everyone working onsite.

Special Hazard Safety Boots.

The products in this category offer protection against a wider range of 'specialist' hazards than standard safety boots. Boots providing metatarsal protection have a steel plate over the top of the boot to protect the foot from items dropped from above. There is also footwear which offers protection against extremes of temperature for those working in cold store/ freezer environments, as well as high temperature and flame retardant boots. Anti static boots are also included here for those working in the manufacture and assembly of electronic components. Options for forestry workers and chainsaw operators are also available in this section.

Safety Wellingtons.

Wellingtons are idea for those working outside or in wet conditions and will outperform the highest spec leather boots when standing in water. Safety wellingtons feature toe cap and midsole protection and are easy to clean and put on/ remove. We stock thermal wellingtons that offer protection against low temperatures and provide an alternative to lace-up boots for cold store workers. Wellies offering chemical resistance are also available in this section.

Ladies Safety Footwear.

On this page you will find a selection of ladies safety footwear that offers a narrower fit and more feminine style than the other products we have listed. All of the boots in this section offer toe cap and midsole protection, along with various other features such as anti-slip, anti-static soles and shock absorber heels. Call us to discuss your specific requirements.

The basic standard for professional use Safety Footwear is EN345. As a basic requirement safety footwear must have a 200 joule toe cap. Other properties that may be included are; penetration resistance (midsole protection), conductive, anti-static, insulated against heat or cold, energy absorbing, outsole resistant to hot contact, water resistant.

Buying Safety Footwear by Use.

Sector Safety Standard Features Recommended 
Agriculture   Protective toe caps and midsole, anti-static and anti-slip sole, waterproof.  Safety wellingtons
Catering   Shock absorber heel, anti-slip sole, easy-clean/ machine washable.  Washable safety shoes
Construction EN345-1 Protective 200 joule toe caps and midsole protection is required. Look for a good, secure fit offering ample support.  Standard safety boots/ chukka boots
Cold Store   Specific cold store boots with steel or composite toe cap and midsole. Water resistant outer, sealed stitching and thermal lining.  Cold store boot/  Dunlop Thermo+ wellingtons
Fire and Rescue  EN15090: 2012 F1: General use. F2: Structural firefighting without chemical protection. F3: Hazmat and structural firefighting with chemical protection. Safety boots with steel toe cap and midsole, anti-static, heat and chemical resistant sole, waterproof, breathable material. Call us to discuss specific requirements.
Foundry (Welders)   Features may include secure top to prevent hot material falling into the boot. Quick release buckles ensuring quick removal of boots in emergency. Metatarsal protection may also be provided. Rubber nitrile soles provide heat and chemical resistance.  Foundry Boots and Welder Safety Boots.
Forestry (Chainsaw operator)  BS EN 381 Protective boots with good grip and protective guarding to the front, toe cap and midsole sections. Chainsaw Boots, under Special Hazard Safety Boots.
Healthcare   Non slip soles, shock absorber heel. Good fit with comfortable sole. Easy-clean/ machine washable. Washable slip on safety shoes/ clogs.
Laboratory and Chemical Handling  EN13832: 2006 EN 13832-2: Footwear resisitant to chemicals. EN 13832-3: Footwear that is highly resistant to chemicals Safety wellingtons with chemical resistance. For less hazardous environments look for safety boots or shoes with a chemical resistant sole. Call us to discuss specific requirements.
Warehouse   Protective toe cap, anti-static and anti-slip soles. Resistant to oil and acid/ alkali. Depending on your work environment and activities, look for safety boots or shoes which will offer maximum comfort and have features to suit your workplace. Products meeting EN345 will have toe cap and midsole protection as standard. Anti-slip soles and shock absorber heels would also be useful features to look for.

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