When looking at construction-related occupational incidents, hand and foot injuries are right at the top of the list. A good quality, comfortable safety boot can reduce the severity of injury quite significantly. Most “safety boots” or shoes will typically have a steel toe cap to protect the toes against falling objects or objects rolling onto the feet. The soles are normally slip-resistant or oil-resistant and some high-quality boots will also have integrated protection in the midsole to protect against punctures from below.
One aspect that is often overlooked, and relates to one of the most common foot injuries on construction sites, is ankle protection. A normal safety shoe will offer little to no ankle protection, while a boot will greatly improve ankle stability. A twisted ankle can easily result in a lost-time accident, as these types of injuries take time to heal. Look out for the “slip-on” type boots, as these also only offer limited ankle support.
As with most personal protective equipment (PPE), an employee should take care of it! A quality safety boot needs a good clean and polish regularly, to ensure that it remains water-resistant and to keep the leather / other material flexible. This is especially important for construction workers where boots will be exposed to water, cement and other abrasives daily.
For regular work in wet conditions, it is advisable to change from a normal work boot to a water boot or “gumboot” as these are specifically designed to be waterproof. Water boots with steel toe caps are also available for added protection.
Finally, when it comes to boots and most items of workwear, personal comfort is very important. A typical construction worker will spend up to 12 hours per shift in those shoes or clothes. A good fit and lightweight is key. Price should not always be the deciding factor.