Safety Wellies – The Benefits Of Safety Wellington Boots

Safety wellies have a range of benefits for people working in different settings, so we thought we would write about 10 of the main benefits of a safety wellington.

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Toe Protection

Workwear safety wellingtons, have the added benefit of toe protection. Steel toe caps and steel midsoles are available, or Composite/ Fibre Glass toe and midsole protectors if you need those.

This makes sure any heavy equipment, materials or sharp blades you are working with do not cause lasting damage to your toes and front of foot.

Slip Resistance

Safety wellington boots almost always offer slip protection from grease, water and oil. As they are purposely designed for use around these substances in hard floor areas, or in mud, slip-resistant soles are considered a default.

Watertight

Obviously this is what we buy wellies for - safety or otherwise.

If you will be working in wet or muddy conditions or performing intensive cleaning, wellington boots are the ideal option because they are purpose designed to keep your feet dry.

If you combine them with waterproof trousers and clothing, you can get to work rest assured that your comfort will not be compromised through using footwear that is not watertight.

Full Safety Footwear Features

Today's range of safety wellies go way beyond just a steel toe-cap. You can find just as many safety features on a welly as you can on a standard safety boot.

That is: Cold Insulation, Heat Protection, Anti-static, Penetration protection, Fuel & Oil resistance, etc, etc

Easy Removal

Various wellies include kick-off spurs to allow easy removal and offer the ability to keep your hands clean.

When you have been performing a deep clean of the ovens or been stood in mucky or contaminated ground all day, you will prefer kicking off your boots rather than using your hands.

Clean Look

If you need to present a clean and professional appearance to customers in an in-store bakery, butchers or other food prep area; or you need to keep a consistently clean appearance for health and safety reasons; workwear safety wellington boots help achieve.

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Ease Of Cleaning

Wellies wipe clean easily, withstand cleaning chemicals and are capable of withstanding vigorous cleaning without degrading

Just like rinsing your wellington boots that you might wear in the garden or when walking the dog, workwear wellies can be cleaned quickly and easily.

Hygiene Friendly

Available in white, safety wellingtons are perfect for working in hygiene conscious settings like the food & medical industries.

White wellies allow spills and stains to be easily noticeable, helping to reinforce a culture of cleanliness in employees.

Comfortable

Workwear wellington boots are designed for proper use. Whilst a cheap pair of wellies that you might pick up for taking the dog out in the rain or watching your kids play football might not be the most comfortable, safety welly boots take a little better care of your feet.

Look for features such as "Energy Absorption" and "Cold Insulation" for a truly snug an comfy welly.

Affordable

Given the type of construction and ease of mass production - as well as their widespread popularity due to being used in a wide range of industries - safety wellington boots are very affordable.

Deciding on Safety Work Boots? What you Need to Know

Safety work boots are a necessity for ensuring your feet are as safe as possible while you carry out your work duties. There are a number of options on the market but it is important you choose the boots that are comfortable and suit the roles you carry out.

Perhaps steel toe capped boots are the right choice, maybe composite toe caps are better suited. The only way to know what you need from your safety boots is to consider the hazards and risks associated with your job, and compare that to the ratings and codes each boot offers.

There are all manner of safety footwear ratings, codes and specifications nowadays - all created for specific job roles and applications. Get it wrong, and not only do you risk falling foul of the law, but you risk injury to yourself.

So how do you choose the right pair of boots for you?

Opt for a trusted brand  - it will be cheaper in the long run

You can find cheap work boots down the centre aisle of many low cost supermarkets. They are perfectly fine for knocking around the garden or allotment, and would likely stand the test of time for domestic use.

But would they last in your workplace, doing your job, for your hours, on your feet?

There is a reason they are cheap.

What do supermarkets know about your workplace safety? It is unlikely the footwear has been through the same vigorous testing done by specialist safety footwear brands such as Rock Fall, or PPE experts like Portwest. This testing is absolutely necessary to ensure each boot specification meets the safety standards and protection we as workers require and expect.

The British Safety Industry Federation have strict standards for membership of companies, Xamax, Rock Fall and Portwest are all members of the BSiF.

Make sure your boots are made and sold by a member of the BSiF and stick with a name you can trust.

You will find that branded, safety specific boots for most applications cost much less than you would think, plus they will last longer.

Never Buy Second-Hand

There is no disputing this one and it should go without saying: NEVER buy second-hand safety boots.

You do not know what foot injury disasters they have already protected against and no doubt they will come with added wear and tear. What if they have already exceeded their safe limit? Nobody wants to find out their boots are broken as a Caterpillar drives over their foot.

Soles wear based on the wearer's gait, so by wearing somebody else's tread, you will be affecting your own footsteps and balance. This could potentially lead to slow damage to almost any joint in your body. Back, hips knees, ankles and feet all require correct alignment to remain healthy.

Don't do it to yourself.

Go for Comfortable Features

When deciding on what style of boot perfectly suits your working environment, you should be careful not to compromise on your own comfort. Lightweight work boots are often opted for rather than the traditional steel toe cap boots purely for comfort reasons.

If a metal-free safety boot is available with the correct safety rating for your job description, it tends to be much lighter to carry on your feet, helping to avoid fatigue throughout the day.

If you absolutely must have steel toe-capped boots in order to remain safe at work, then you should not opt for buying a big riggers boot when a pair of ankle boots would suffice

Many lightweight safety boots are not quite as protective as something heavier. All footwear at Xamax complies with the legislated 200joule minimum impact protection, but you may need much more (don't worry, we have those too).

A happy medium is what you should be searching for. Something that is durable and hard-working, yet not going to kill your feet after grafting about on-site all day.

Get the Correct Size/Fit

This seems like a given but it is important to note that work boots are going to be pretty uncomfortable if they are the wrong size and fit. You are going to be on your feet all day, so they will need to be comfortable, which will likely help to improve your work performance making your day easier.

Check the various different size guides on our product pages to ensure that you are purchasing as close a size as you can to your needs. Remember to consider what type of socks will be worn with the boot, or they won't fit properly.

There is no point buying a size too big if you are just wearing thin cotton socks, or a snug fit if you intend to wear sub-zero Arctic standard thermal socks.

Foot & Ankle Protection

This is the main reason for buying safety boots, so it is the most important thing to consider.

Consider what kind of day-to-day jobs you do and the hazards you are exposed to. This will determine what safety ratings and what style of boots you need.

There are many abbreviations and codes that determine the level of protection you can expect from a pair of safety boots. If you are not sure of what codes mean what here's a handy guide.

The ideas below are by no means exhaustive, and there may be some overlaps from each suggestion - use your own judgement, your new found knowledge of the codes and your risk assessments to decide the correct safety boots for you.

Do you work on a building site for 8 hours a day?

You are going to need comfortable steel toe-capped boots that have an anti-penetration midsole. An S3 or greater boot will protect against the likes of a dropped brick, or scaffolding pole breaking your toes and also protect you from the underfoot nail penetration of a carelessly discarded 2x4.

You will need a boot with firm ankle protection to prevent twisted ankles (ie: not a rigger boot - see why not here).

Waterproofing would be nice as would cold insulation for the colder months of the year.

These boots would be appropriate:

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Do you work with flammable liquids, oils, chemicals?

In that case, you are going to need slip-resistance, oil-resistance and possibly fire-resistance in order to do your job properly and safely.

Slip-resistance comes in 3 ratings: S1, S2, S3 - with S3 being the highest. The anti-slip rating you need will be determined by the type of surface you mainly work on and the type of liquids you work with..

Oil and chemicals can and will degrade boots fast if they are not designed to resist. A chemically degraded safety boot is no safety boot at all.

These boots would be appropriate:

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Are you jumping in and out of a forklift or wagon all day?

Shoes are not for you. You could probably opt for a composite protective standard to keep your boots lightweight, but there is added risk to your ankles from climbing down from your truck. You need a boot with good support, not just padding, to keep your ankle from turning, so look for an "A" code.

Steel midsoles are not recommended for drivers unless absolutely necessary. The steel plate tends to wear through the sole reasonably quickly with the constant movement of the feet on the pedals. Go for a composite toed and midsole ankle boot if your risk assessment permits it.

These boots would be appropriate:

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Do you work with electronics?

Then a safety boot might not be what you are looking for. You would need ESD protection at a minimum, which only comes with composite metal-free boots, but do you need the added ankle protection?

It may be wiser to opt for an ESD safety trainer instead. Lightweight, yet still giving full foot protection, and anti-static protection to boot! (pun intended)

ESD boots are available, but why carry the extra weight if you don't need to?

This footwear would be appropriate:

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Are you working in the great outdoors in landscape or environmental works?

All weathers, all grounds, all hazards... Along with toecaps and anti-penetration midsoles, you will need the ankle protection of a sturdy high calf boot. Not forgetting good waterproofing and slip-resistance against the mud and rain.

Composite or steel protection is available, which type you need all depends on your absolute needs.

If you are swinging a chainsaw or working with spinning and moving blades, you will need a chainsaw-proof boot with steel toe-caps. Expensive, but worth every penny.

If you are just trudging through the mire building dry stone walls or tending to livestock, composite is perfect for you.

These boots would be appropriate:

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Risk Assessment

Your safety is paramount so it is vital to ensure that you are wearing the correct work boots when on the job, so before kitting your feet out, you should carry out a risk assessment. Your risk assessment will then enable you to pinpoint the specific characteristics of the correct boots you need.

The risk assessment you carry out should account for foot hazards such as:

  • Slippery floors or ground
  • dropping heavy or sharp items onto feet
  • walking on or coming into contact with hot surfaces
  • the presence of acids, solvents, oils on the floor
  • electrical hazards

This will form the basis of the characteristics you need in a safety boot. For every foot hazard you can find in your workplace, there will be a boot that protects you against disaster. the trick is to find the boot that covers all bases.

Safety Legislation for Boots

All safety footwear is required to meet the minimum safety standards set out by the International Organisation for Standardisation. This is the current standard for workwear and PPE across Europe and was updated in 2011 to become even more precise.

However complicated the law EN ISO 20345:2011 may sound, it is actually very straightforward. The law outlines that work boots must now have toe protection against a 200-joule impact. This is the equivalent of dropping two big bags of cement from waist height onto your toes.

Safety boots used in the workplace must also abide by the same UK health & Safety regulations as PPE, and the whole supply chain must follow the laws. More on that here.

How to Properly Protect Yourself

By ensuring you are wearing the correct safety boots for work you are only covering one part of your workplace safety, but it is as important as any other part.

Get into the habit of understanding your own job and the way you can protect yourself from hazards and risk. When buying your own protective footwear, or requesting specific safety boots from your employer, knowing why you are wearing those specific boots is excellent practice for your entire personal protective attitude.

There is only one of you. Look after yourself.

Safety Footwear Ratings: The Ultimate Guide

Style and colour may be your first thoughts when choosing new safety boots or shoes, but it should be the fit, suitability for your job and the protection standards (aka: Safety Footwear Ratings) that are at the forefront of your mind.

Hopefully this guide to the standards, classifications, ratings and codes for safety footwear will help you make the right choices that give you the correct level of protection for your feet, whatever job you do.

Keep reading to learn all about the footwear PPE safety standards and find some tips to make it nice and easy to find the right protective footwear for your requirements.

PPE Regulations – What You Need to Know

All forms of PPE, from head to toe, are covered and described by the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at Work Regulations 1992. An update was made in 2002, and another update happened in 2011.

It is an employer's responsibility to keep employees safe, which includes providing PPE and any other safety equipment workers may need. This includes safety footwear.

Click HERE for a brief downloadable guide on PPE from the Health & Safety Executive.

Safety Standard EN ISO 20345:2011... What does it mean?

Image of a confused man
What?

The safety footwear standard EN ISO 20345:2011 is not as complicated to understand as it first appears, and it specifies the basic/additional safety footwear requirements to meet the standard.

Let's break it down...

  • EN - This is the current applicable standard across Europe
  • ISO - All footwear PPE products must meet the minimum safety standards as defined by the International Organization for Standardization.
  • 20345 - This is the assigned legislation number.
  • 2011 - This is the year the safety standard around footwear was updated. It now requires that safety footwear must now protect against a 200 Joule impact at the toes before failing.

Safety Footwear Abbreviations & Codes You Should Look Out For

There is an array of foot protection in the form of boots or shoes available apart from the standard toe-cap. For instance, some PPE foot protection are anti-static, some ECD (Electro-Static Discharge) resistant, some footwear offers protection for the metatarsal, some have steel plates in the sole to prevent penetration, some prevent cuts (have you ever seen a chainsaw-proof boot? Incredible!).

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As is usual in PPE and Health & Safety, codes and abbreviations are used to describe these features. See the table below for a non-exhaustive list that is sure to grow with time.

CodeIconMeaning
AAnti-static
ANAnkle Protection
CConductive
CICold Insulation
CRCut Resistant Upper
EEnergy Absorption
FOFuel/Oil Resistant Outsole
HIHeat Insulation
HROOutsole is Resistant to Hot Contact
IElectricity Insulated
MMetatarsal Protection
PPenetration Resistance
WRWater Resistance
WRUWater Penetration and Water Absorption Resistant Upper
ESDElectro-Static Discharge Resistant

What are the Safety Footwear Ratings?

The above codes are very specific, but the level of protection a boot or shoe gives has a clear system of ratings which combine many of the above codes. These are known as "S ratings" and you are probably already familiar with some of them: S1, S2, S3 Safety boots are very common terms...

This table lays out the 6 safety boot/shoe ratings - an explanation of each is below. Click on the rating to jump directly to it's full explanation.

RatingIconMeaning
SBSafety Basic (Has Toe Protection)
SBPAs SB with additional Mid-Sole protection against penetration
S1Anti-Static, Oil-Resitant and Energy Absorption
S1PAs S1 with additional Mid-Sole protection against penetration
S2Prevents Water Penetration
S3Midsole Penetration Resistance
S4Leak-Proof
S5Leak-Proof with Midsole Penetration Resistance

What do the Safety Footwear ratings mean?

Please Note: After SB, the standards feature all the SB basics, but have extra protection or features.

  • SB - Safety Basic - This is the basic standard for safety footwear and must have toe protection that can withstand a 200 Joule impact. There can be (and most likely will be) other standards alongside the SB which will appear as other symbols as mentioned above. EG: SB-FO would have the basic standard of safety toe-cap, but also features a Fuel/Oil Resistant Outsole.
  • SBP - This is the same as the basic standard for safety footwear but includes a mid-sole plate (steel, or composite material) to protect the foot against penetration.
  • S1 - S1 footwear is anti-static, resistant to fuel oil and features energy absorption at the heel. As with SB, other symbols can be added, EG: S1-HI would be an S1 shoe or boot, but is also insulated against heat.
  • S1P - S1P footwear the same as S1 footwear but including a steel or composite plate in the Mid-Sole to protect against penetration from under foot.
  • S2 - S2 footwear has all the aspects of S1 footwear, but adds prevention of water absorption for the upper. Again, codes can be added as they are with S1 and SB.
  • S3 - You will find the same safety elements as contained in S2, plus a penetration resistant midsole. Again, codes can be added as they are with S2, S1 and SB.
  • S4 - An S4 boot encompasses the same level of protection as an S1, however it is moulded from a polymer or rubber that makes them completely waterproof and leak-proof. A safety welly would be S4 at the least, and other codes can be added when the boot achieves other safety standards.
  • S5 - S5 gives you all the safety footwear features of the S4, plus midsole penetration resistance.

The Non-Slip/Anti-slip Footwear Standards

Slips account for a huge percentage of workplace accidents, so it is absolutely vital that there are separate safety standards so workers and employers can rate the slip-resistance of safety footwear.

Slipping is measured using 2 different lubrication mediums on 2 different surfaces, or both, using a "Pendulum Slip Test" system - a type of "Tribometer": a tool that measures the tribological quantities of the interacting surfaces in relative motion... Friction... it measures friction.

Here are the 3 standards

RatingIconTest Medium
SRASlip resistance is tested on ceramic tile which has been saturated with Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (the active ingredient in soap)
SRBSlip resistance is tested on Steel plate which has been saturated with Glycerol
SRC Slip resistance is tested and passed against the same conditions as SRA and SRB

What Is the Best Safety Footwear for Me?

Knowing the safety standards and the conditions you will be working in is the first step to buying the correct safety boots, shoes or trainers for you.

You could stop reading here and still make an informed choice - but there are other practicalities you should probably think about.

Here are some extra tips before you buy...

Comfortable Footwear is Key to Productivity

Have you ever trudged through mud in the garden, walking the hills or at a festival? The added weight on your feet makes every step more difficult and the consequence is pure misery.

That is not conducive to a good day at work!

More and more lightweight safety footwear is becoming available. No longer are the ugly old Miners external steel toe-caps the only solution to foot protection (infact, those aren't even legal anymore and you should not be able to find them).

Modern technology has leapt forward allowing such trends as safety trainers, high protection wellington style boots, cut-resistance and all manner of other specialist foot protection - without compromising on comfort, flexibility and *ahem* style.

Ensure You Get The Correct Level of Foot Protection

Now you know what all the safety footwear ratings, standards and codes mean, you have no excuse for getting the wrong level of protection for your working environment.

Toe-protection is the minimum requirement for footwear to be classed as "safety", but there is a good chance you may require more.

Consider the work you do and the environment you do it in. Construction workers will definitely need the minimum of a toe-cap, but you would be wise to consider mid-sole protection too - just in case someone leaves a nail protruding from a 2 by 4 - not to mention ankle support for uneven ground (that is why Rigger Boots are not really suited for building sites).

If you work with fuels or inflammables/flammables, you should use an anti-static and Fuel/Oil resistant footwear.

Working with electricity? You should consider electrical-resistant footwear.

Working with heat hazards? You would need a HRO boot.

Work with Food, in a Medical Lab or Clean Room? You will probably need a safety shoe that is Slip-Resistant, Washable and White.

Are you or your employees Vegan? No seriously... there are Vegan safety trainers, and you might need to consider this if any of your employees are vegans.

The list goes on, but you get the jist.

Get the Correct Size and Fit

It is likely you will be spending your entire working day in these boots or shoes, so it is essential that they fit your feet properly.

Everybody is different, so it might be that in order to get the right level of protection that fits you properly, you might need to forgo those all singing, all dancing über-boots that impress your mates, for something more conservative looking, yet correct.

Don't be afraid to invest in some good quality insoles to improve your comfort either.

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Absolutely NEVER buy second hand safety footwear

Do we really need to explain this?

The only way you can be certain of the history of a piece of safety equipment is if you buy it new. Buying second hand safety footwear opens you up to so much risk that it is simply not worth it.

You need your toe protection to withstand the 200 Joules it is designed to withstand. If you do not know the history of the footwear, you will not know if that 200 Joules has already been exceeded and the protection rendered useless.

Nobody wants to find out there is a broken toe-cap whilst a forklift runs over their foot.

And the price ranges of footwear with differing safety specs really does mean you have no excuse not to buy new.

Look After Your Footwear and Your Footwear Will Look After You

It is the same with all your PPE to be honest - your foot protection can only take so much abuse before it fails. So the best thing to do is protect your footwear like it protects you. Boots or Shoes will last much longer too, saving you money in the long-run.

  • If they get muddy, clean them.
  • If they are wet, dry them naturally.
  • Use laces properly (don't slip them on and off and stretch them).
  • Store them carefully, don't let them rattle around in the back of the van.
  • Invest in some Dubbin for leather boots or shoes

And most importantly, if you have an incident where the protection level may have been compromised, CHECK your footwear thoroughly for any failures. If in doubt, replace them immediately.

You need your feet.

Are Rigger Boots Banned On Construction Sites?

Rigger boots are an attractive option for those who work on a construction site. They are a slip-on safety boot between a lace-up and a wellington. Compared to traditional safety boots they have a looser fit and their added waterproofing makes them an appealing choice. However, are riggers safety boots banned from being worn on construction sites?

The Real Purpose of Rigger Boots

Riggers were originally designed for oil rig workers in danger of falling into large bodies of water - hence the name "rigger" boots. They needed a safety boot that is easy and fast to remove in an emergency situation.

Outside of oil rigs, these boots have been adopted across various construction industries and roles - but they are not always appropriate.

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The Risks of Wearing Rigger Boots on a Construction Site

Construction companies have found that their workers are at an increased risk of foot and ankle injury when they are wearing rigger boots. This style of PPE footwear offers no protection against the rolling of an ankle, so sprains and breaks on uneven ground are common. They also offer no mid-sole protection against penetration, so injuries occurred from standing on nails and screws can occur.

It is a requirement on construction sites to wear safety footwear that is CE certified. This means the item complies with the PPE regulations for site safety boots. Any rigger boots sold by Xamax will conform to this standard.

But it is important to wear the correct safety boot depending on the job and work you do. For example, you would not wear a typical safety boot when pouring cement as you may experience cement burns. Instead you may choose safety wellington boots.

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Are Rigger Boots Banned?

Rigger boots are not banned by any large governing body, but they may be banned on individual sites or by specific construction companies. The best course of action would always be to check with an employer or site manager for specific safety polices.

Although there has not been a regulatory change, bigger firms have banned rigger boots on the construction site. Policies have changed for certain roles but it has not become more far reaching.

How do I Choose the Best Boots?

It is important to choose safety boots that are comfortable, durable, and slip resistant. Common accidents within the workplace are slips, trips, and falls. When working on construction sites that have uneven surfaces and hazardous conditions, you are in danger of more risks.

You may have other considerations too, such as steel-cap toes, anti-static properties, waterproofing, electrical hazard compliance, and a good outsole. Outsoles can protect you from heat, chemicals, oil, gas, debris, marking, and slipping.

For summer, you might want a safe, but lighter pair of boots to keep you cooler, and for winter you may want a fur lined pair. Remember that site safety boots need replacing every 6-12 months or when they are in disrepair. Your employer will provide safety boots.

If you order safety boots for your company, choose a few models that vary, and allow your employees to try on pairs and find the boots that work for them. If your worker is comfortable, they are more likely to comply. Make sure you update your health and safety policy regularly to identify all hazards and figure out what boots will help protect against those hazards too.

Image shows man wearing rigger boots

Remember to take good care of your boots and clean them regularly according to the manufacturer’s instructions. You may wish to have insoles and wear speciality socks to make them more comfortable. Be sure to fasten or lace up your shoes in the correct way to maximise safety too.

When you are comparing the different safety boots, you can see that Riggers do not provide the same ankle support as safety boots. The ankles on Riggers are flimsy making the ankle prone to injury.

However, the best policy is always to be careful when walking around on site. Many workers wear Riggers as they are considered ‘stylish’ and easy to pull on. Overall, foot safety should be considered the main priority.

If you have a worker who needs both Riggers and Site Safety Boots, make sure this person has access to both types of boots. Riggers are not a catch-all shoe for safety. Educate all workers on the risks of wearing the wrong footwear on site so that lack of knowledge is not catching anyone out or causing accidents.

Although Riggers are not banned on most sites, it is not recommended your workers wear them - just in case. 

Where to Buy Rigger Boots

With all the above in mind, if you decide that Rigger Boots are the choice for you, you need to ensure the footwear you buy is compliant with EN ISO 20345:2011, and the specific safety ratings of the boot meet your specific job requirements.

As a BSiF Registered Safety Supplier, Xamax only sell compliant safety footwear and PPE, so there is no better company to supply you than us. You can find a carefully selected list of fully compliant Rigger Boots to buy for various applications here.

Conclusion

Although Rigger boots are not legally banned, they may be prohibited on certain building sites and construction jobs. These workwear boots are stylish and easy to pull on however riggers do not provide sufficient ankle and foot support which causes a higher risk of injury.

Don't just consider the toes and midsole when choosing safety boots: ensure your entire foot and ankle are protected too.

Buying Safety Boots for Work: 5 Considerations for Business Owners and Employees Alike

Having the correct site safety boots for your workers is key for their comfort and safety. If you buy the right boots for your workforce, they will be able to work at their best and safest - there is nothing worse than having foot discomfort all day.

Choosing Boot Styles

Each individual has a differently shaped foot, instep, foot arch, foot width, foot length and Gait. When buying safety boots, there is no one size fits all approach - just as you would not buy the same hard hat suspension for each person; it is recommended you have different options for individual wearers.

Let each person choose from designated styles - that are PPE footwear approved to EN ISO 20345:2011 standards - and if the boots are uncomfortable, you may need to purchase an additional pair in another style.

It may seem costly at first, but once each worker has found his or her safety footwear product, you will know from that point forward what to order.

To avoid costly changes and exchanges for a larger workforce, you can request a visit from a Xamax business development manager to measure your workforce's feet and test their footprint to ensure the correct boot for the individual.

Assessing the Risks

It is absolutely vital to assess workplace risks and decide what you need in your worker’s safety footwear. Once you have identified workplace hazards, consider what type of shoe is needed. Here are some common hazards you should consider:

  • Slippery floors
  • Dropping heavy or sharp objects onto feet
  • Walking on hot surfaces
  • The presence of acids, solvents, or oils
  • The presence of sharp objects on the floor
  • Electrical hazards

If your workplace carries any of these risks, you must protect your workers against them with the correct footwear.

5 Considerations for Safety Footwear

Here are 5 things you may not necessarily consider when buying safety boots for your work site.

Slip-Resistance

Slips and trips are the most common workplace accidents making up 29% of all non-fatal accidents at work in 2018/19. Make sure that any site safety boots have slip-resistant properties, and appropriate tread.

Anti-Slip standards to look out for are: SRA, SRB and SRC. More on those ratings and what they mean here.

Comfort

Even though your worker may find his or her favourite trainers more comfortable, if PPE footwear is deemed necessary, nobody should even be entering the work site without compliant safety footwear. A worker cannot legally sign a waiver to wear his or her own footwear; therefore, it is important to find a safety boot that fits the wearer comfortably.

For cold environments, fur lined (or faux fur) is an appreciated feature. Cold and Heat protection may even be primary concerns once you consider the risks of your workplace. You can learn about the applicable safety codes here.

Material

Make sure the materials of the shoe protect against the hazards you have identified. Shoes that are exposed to acids need a rubber compound and optional polymer toe cap, for example.

For many sites, you will need non-metallic safety components in the shoes for light or heavy wear - depending on your needs. Some shoes have anti-static properties and/or heat resistant outsoles. There are different shoe materials to choose from so make sure you know what you need for maximum safety. Again, once you have completed your risk assessment, you can find the relevant footwear safety codes to look out for here.

Use

When buying safety footwear, you want to consider how your workers will use the footwear. A rigger will need different safety footwear than an electrician or a construction worker.

Some workers will need waterproofing, steel toe caps, midsole anti-penetration inserts, and other safety considerations. You may be buying steel capped boots when all you need is non-slip waterproofing. Make sure each boot covers the needs you actually have.

Of course, it is usually better to be overprotected than under-protected, but make sure you are buying safety footwear that is fit for purpose.

Replacement

Despite condition, work boots will need replacing every 6-24 months, especially if there is to be lots of wear and tear. "Cost In Use" should be considered when buying new. For instance, a £30 pair of boots every 6 months would be more expensive than a £60 pair every 2 years.

Each month, have your workers check the tread, uppers, stitching and interior of their boots to see how well they are holding up; replace any defective footwear asap so as not to compromise safety.

Popular Safety Boots To Buy

As you are no doubt aware by now, Xamax is a registered safety supplier with BSiF (click to verify). As such, we only supply EN ISO 20345:2011 compliant safety footwear.

Here are a few of our most popular boots supplied to our construction and engineering customers.

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How To Choose Between Composite & Steel Toe Cap Safety Boots

If you are deciding between different types of safety boots or shoes, you might be choosing between composite and steel toe cap options. Here are the differences explained in one short post and some advice on which type is right for you, your budget and your job role.

The Difference Between Composite And Steel Toe Capped Boots Or Safety Boots

Steel toe cap safety shoes and boots use a piece of formed steel to protect the wearer's toes. Composite boots use a mixture of plastics, carbon fibres and/or rubber. Both can be produced to meet health and safety standards on safety footwear.

Steel options are usually lined on the inside for extra comfort and the steel will be inserted inside the leather of the toe box of the boot or shoe.

A composite safety boot or shoe is a newer invention than the ol' faithful steel toe and it is made using anything except metal.

Both serve the same purpose of protecting your toes from falling heavy objects or errant pieces of machinery.

They both come with different levels of comfort and protection - and therefore price options.

The Cost Differences

There are various price points for both types of safety boot. Depending on the strength and level of protection, the level of comfort, weight and even aesthetic appearance, you can spend anywhere between £15 to £150+ on a pair of PPE boots.

The good news is that there are various options to suit all budgets and job roles. Here is a comparison of 2 like for like boots - One is Steel toecaps with a steel midsole, the other is a composite toecap with a composite midsole.

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Which Toe-Cap Is Right For Your Job Role

Here are some of the pros and cons of both steel toe-capped and composite toe-capped safety boots. Make sure not to waste your time getting an unsuitable, heavy rigger boots if you are picking light-to-mid-weight stock in a warehouse.

The next couple of sections will give you all the info you need.

Did you know that even management staff should not need to compromise on safety if they wear smart safety shoes?

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Steel Toe Caps

Best for people working with heavy objects but don't need to walk much during a shift.

When it comes to sheer strength of protection, steel toe caps out perform composite options. The protection offered by a well designed steel toe capped boot or safety shoe cannot be beaten.

If you work in a role which does not result in walking miles during a shift, but you do work in a role which sees you handling heavy materials - such as a steel erector or many engineering roles - then steel options are the safety boots for you.

This is because they are heavier than composite safety footwear, but protection from falling weight is their main purpose, as opposed to ease of mobility.

Another thing to note, if you are working outside during the colder months be sure to choose a lined option. Steel is poor at retaining heat so feet will soon become cold.

Also worth mentioning at this point; an old urban myth is that a heavy object could bend the steel toe cap to the point that it could amputate the wearers toes, but this myth has since been busted by the Mythbusters on Episode 42

Composite Toe Cap

Best for those needing to resist electro-static charge or those who cover a good distance of walking during their shift. A pair of composite safety trainers might be even better than a boot or shoe.

Much lighter on your feet than a steel toe cap option, a composite safety shoe will be the choice if you need to walk any sort of distance during a shift.

The trade off for this is that some cheaper composite boots/safety shoes might not reach the highest standards of safety protection. They might only reach the minimum level to be legally classed as safety boots, but be sure to check they comply with required HSE rules and regulations on footwear protection levels for your job role.

If you are unsure, you should check with your supervisor or employer who needs to be able to ensure you have adequate protection. This is the case even if you are given a company login to purchase your PPE online or will be reimbursed for your expense.