In some hard workplaces, we need to wear safety boots.

How do I choose an effective pair of boots?

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    Depends if you like your feet. Accidents do happen - See also hard hats, ear mufflers and eye protection – Ed Heal Sep 6 '18 at 12:44
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    @JoeStrazzere Have you just edited the question? You are completely changing the meaning of the original question! BobbyBays asked if wearing safety boots is neccessary, not what kind of boots he should choose. – Elmy Sep 6 '18 at 12:52
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    @rath Great, this is the third edit by someone else than the original poster and I strictly speaking my answer doesn't fit the question anymore. If you think the question is not suited as it is, close it and give the OP a chance to express what they want to ask instead of editing the question to what you want it to be. – Elmy Sep 6 '18 at 13:10
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    @rath Yes, my answer focuses on the original question as asked by the original poster. It might have been off topic, but it was exactly what the OP asked. The edits done by Joe and you may have kept the question on topic, but turned its meaning around so completely that it's not recognizable as the OPs question anymore. I'm sure it was in your best interest, but I don't think it's a liberty we should take. – Elmy Sep 6 '18 at 13:30
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    @rath This has completely blown the question out of context off topic or not it is not what OP was asking, OP's question was why is it necessary to wear boots. Maybe obvious but it was what they were asking – Twyxz Sep 6 '18 at 13:30

Should you wear safety boots at all?

Yes, if you value your ability to walk it's necessary to wear safety boots in places of higher risk of injury.

The human foot is a complicated construct of 26 bones and several muscles and tendons that have to work and move together. Any damage to any component of the foot can cause you pain while walking or difficulty to keep your balance.

Safety boots protect you from piercing your foot by stepping on a nail or having your toes crushed by heavy weights. Most even protect you from high temperatures, electric current and breaking some of the delicate bones by having a brick fall on your foot. Since you need your feet every single day you should protect them when there's a higher risk of injury at your work. I know it's uncomfortable wearing thick, heavy boots in summer heat, but accidents happen every day regardless of the temperatures.

Won't normal boots do as well?

The Mythbusters have compared the damage done by falling objects to an artificial foot in regular boots and steel cap safety boots. Here's a textual summary and here's the video (the important parts are: beginning - 7:00, then 12:30 - 17:00 and 24:00 - 27:30).

The result is: Safety boots offer protection against 5 times as much pressure as normal boots.

  • 750 lbs will break every bone in your unprotected toes
  • 1400 lbs sever the unprotected toes completely
  • 2500 lbs protection is the highest rating defined by the american ASTM Footwear Standards
  • 3400 lbs protection is defined by european ISO norm for steel caps (please correct me if I converted the units incorrectly).

How to choose effective safety boots

You should watch out for national quality and safety labels when choosing safety equipment. If you have the chance, buy at stores specialized in personal safety equipment and consult the shop assistants to choose the right size and fit.

Depending on where you work, your employer has to equip you with one fresh pair of safety boots per year.

I have repeatedly heard about toes being severed by cheap steel caps bending under pressure, but further investigation came up with nothing but rumors. In the end you'll probably get a more comfortable pair of boots for a higher price, but even the cheap ones offer sufficient protection.

And last but not least, Bootratings.com reviews and compares different brands of safety boots.

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  • All things considered, I'd rather have cleanly severed toes than a nasty crushing wound. Does that injury tend to happen when the foot would be otherwise crushed, or does the failure happen too soon and makes a bruised foot into a missing foot? – Monica Apologists Get Out Sep 6 '18 at 14:02
  • @Adonalsium The problem was that the metal tip couldn't withstand the forces required by national quality standards. It bent down at a lower weight than promised by the manufacturer and cut off toes. Had the people worn boots according to standards, they would have broken their feet, but kept their toes. – Elmy Sep 6 '18 at 14:10
  • bootratings.com – Neo Sep 6 '18 at 14:26
  • @YElm But what if they'd neglected to wear safety boots at all? Perhaps they couldn't afford quality safety boots, and went with some budget ones? – Monica Apologists Get Out Sep 6 '18 at 14:30

In answer to both the original and updated question.

How do they help?

If they are a workplace requirement, they fulfill one of the conditions to allow you to be on site. The employer may require you to wear them because they believe you are less likely to suffer an injury with them on, or because it is a requirement in local labor law, or because their insurance is less if all people on site are wearing safety boots. Their justification is entirely irrelevant because at the end of the day they are a requirement. Along with their obvious safety benefits, they are helpful to you in that they allow you to enter the jobsite and stay employed.

I work on an industrial site and every time I enter the plant I need to wear: hard hat, protective eyewear (shatterproof and close fitting), a long sleeved jacket and pants that are fire resistant and have hi vis stripes, earmuffs or earplugs, CSA approved safety boots, gloves, and my mask bag with an emergency use half mask in it. The messed up part is I have to gear up in this even if I want to cross the road from the offices to the control room and not go near any process equipment. Yet I don every piece of this gear every time I cross that road because that is the requirement and I like being employed here.

How do I choose an effective pair of boots?

First consideration is do they meet workplace requirements. Usually workplaces that require them will specify if they just need to meet national standards or if anything additional is required. For my workplace they need to meet national standards and they need to be over the ankle.

Second consideration is do you feel they keep your feet safe. Maybe you are in a workplace with lots of sharp objects on the ground. Do you want steel lined soles even if they aren't required? Maybe you work with knives or other sharp objects that could be dropped on your feet. Do you want Kevlar laces?

Third consideration is comfort. You'll be wearing these for nearly your whole workday so they have to fit well. Be especially conscious of metal parts. Leather will eventually stretch to match the shape of your feet but steel won't. If they fit poorly you are more likely to suffer an ergonomic injury and are frankly more likely to be distracted in the workplace.

Fourth is durability. These things are expensive. If you can afford it go for ones with rubber or extra leather over the toe caps as this area wearing out is a very common cause of failure for work boots.

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  • Expense shouldn't be an issue. If an employer mandates safety equipment then they should supplying it free of charge. – Peter M Sep 6 '18 at 17:53
  • @PeterM That is industry and location specific. In some regions and industries an employer can specify workboot requirements without providing them. It would be very common for employers to require day laborers would have their own work boots in my part of Canada. – Myles Sep 6 '18 at 18:09
  • @PeterM careerbuilder.com/job/… – Myles Sep 6 '18 at 18:12
  • Every industrial I have worked in has supplied the requisite safety equipment. But I am not sure if you would class day laborers as employees. But even still, if you do have to purchase it then it becomes an expense at tax time. – Peter M Sep 6 '18 at 19:44
  • @PeterM Again that is location specific. Canada and US I doubt you'd have a problem claiming them, elsewhere in the world I'd expect there to be mixed results. – Myles Sep 6 '18 at 20:01

Ideally your employer should be giving you advice on this; if they're not going to give you the safety equipment you require. I would imagine you have someone on site who can answer this question for you.

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