Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Safety Footwear

It makes commonsense to wear protective footwear wherever there is danger and in fact in a workplace it is often mandatory. Damage to your feet can have a major effect on your life and may in fact cripple you.

Common Injuries

There are a number of common injuries that can occur:

InjuriesCommon Causes
Crushed or broken feet, amputation of toes or feetFeet trapped between objects or caught in a crack, falls of heavy objects, moving vehicles (lift trucks, bulldozers, etc.), working with large animals, conveyor belts (feet drawn between belt and roller)
Punctures of the sole of the footLoose nails, sharp metal or glass objects
Cuts or severed feet or toes, lacerationsChain saws, rotary mowers, unguarded machinery
BurnsMolten metal splashes, chemical splashes, contact with fire, flammable or explosive atmospheres
Electric shocksStatic electricity, contact with sources of electricity
Sprained or twisted ankles, fractured or broken bones because of slips, trips or fallsSlippery floors, littered walkways, incorrect footwear, poor lighting
Types of Safety Footwear

The most common type is the safety boot or shoe, fitted with a steel toecap and possibly a steel midsole. These are used for construction or agricultural work, and may also be needed for those involved in maintenance or manual handling. They usually have slip resistant soles, which may be resistant to oils or other chemicals.

Other footwear for specialist applications includes Wellington boots, chain saw boots, foundry boots (for molten metal resistance), anti-static footwear (which reduces the danger from igniting flammable atmospheres and gives some protection from electric shock) and conductive footwear (particularly suitable for handling static-sensitive devices, but giving no protection against electric shock).

However there are a number of products available that give protection against crushing of the toes and penetration of the midsole, but make use of composites so that they are totally non-metallic. For example see the Granite range under Non Metallic Safety on the website.


Safety footwear should comply with EN 345 Footwear with anti-static or slip resistant properties should conform to EN 347.

EN 345: Specifications on Safety Shoes for Professional Use

This standard defines the basic and additional (optional) requirements on safety shoes for professional use.

These shoes include devices to protect the user against injuries caused by accidents liable to occur in the industrial environment for which the shoe has been designed, fitted with safety toe-cap intended to deliver a protection against impacts with an energy level equal to 200 joules. This means the steel toe-cap will withstand the impact of 20kg in weight falling from a height of 10.2 metres. The protection standard in protective footwear also relates to compression corresponding to approximately 1.5 tonnes resting on the toe area. Safety Footwear is often generally referred to as EN345 but the full reference is: BS EN ISO 20345:2004

Class 1: All materials except natural or synthetic polymers

S1: Basic properties and closed back, anti-static properties, heel energy absorption
S2: All S1 characteristics plus waterproof
S3: All S2 characteristics and anti-puncture sole, studded sole
Class 2: Natural and synthetic polymers

S4 Basic properties and anti-static properties, heel energy absorption
S5 All S4 characteristics and anti-puncture sole, studded sole


The choice of safety footwear should first be made on the basis of the protection required, but comfort is a significant issue and should not be ignored. The most important factor in choosing your safety shoes or boots is how your feet fit inside them. Your safety footwear unlike ordinary shoes, should last for a long time and therefore you have to choose what you think is the best and most comfortable pair for you.

Unlike ordinary footwear that can adjust to the form of your feet over time, safety shoes do not easily and conveniently mould into the unique shape of your feet. So you need to set aside ample time in choosing your footwear before making the purchase. It is also a good practice to try the shoes wearing the socks that you will use in daily life. If you found a pair that you think fits, try walking around in it. If they still feel comfortable after leaving the shoes on for a few minutes, then you may have found your perfect safety shoes.

Resist the urge to buy bigger safety shoes, the problem with safety shoes is that they are harder and they seem inflexible unlike ordinary leather shoes. So some people tend to buy safety shoes that are a little oversized to give more room for the feet. Oversized shoes can cause injuries like sprains and even bone fractures. If your safety shoes are oversized, try wearing thick socks to compensate for too much space inside your shoes.

A choice of makes and styles may have to be offered to ensure that appropriate footwear is always worn when needed. Boots, not shoes, must be worn where ankle protection is needed.

Care should be taken in the choice of anti-static and conductive footwear; both give protection against the hazard of static electricity and anti-static footwear also gives some protection against electric shock. However conductive footwear provides no protection against electric shock and must not be used where this is a risk.


Footwear should be checked for wear or damage and replaced if necessary; certainly if the footwear has been in an impact situation then the integrity of the toecap may have been damaged.

At Granite Workwear we are fully conscious of the requirements for safety footwear and we stock products for all types of risk. We are distributors for a number of well known brands; Haix, Fortec, Dickies, Goliath and Muck Boots. If you have any questions on the best product for your needs then please contact us.

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