Selecting the right safety footwear for the job

Oliver Footwear
Friday, 26 July, 2013

With workplace safety boots today combining comfort, style and innovations that sound more like chemical compounds, making the right choice of protective footwear can be difficult.

Oliver Footwear’s Managing Director, Phil Hughes, provides some basic guidance on selecting the correct safety footwear to protect your feet against common risks on a job site. 

He says firstly know the specific needs of your workplace environment. Is there a potential risk arising from falling objects, sharp surfaces or metals, or are chemicals or electrical hazards another potential risk?

For example, footwear required by an electrician will be different to the one required by a builder, welder or miner. An electrician would need to look for features such as an electrical resistant (EH) sole where a welder would need a rubber outsole that has heat resistance up to 300°C.

It is also imperative that your safety boots meet Australian and international safety standards. To achieve this, features like the toecap, thread, leather, laces, hooks, eyelets and even the lining of the boot need to pass a range of tests conducted by an independent registered laboratory. Any safety boot that has been checked and approved by AS/NZS 2210.3:2009 standards will have a certification logo on or inside the boot.

“Try the boots on,” says Hughes. “Can you wiggle your toes? Is there space within the shape of the toecap so that your toes are not in contact with the cap itself?”

A roomy, comfortable toecap is important so that you are relieved of pressure on your toes especially if you’re wearing your safety boots for an extended period of time.

For protection against falling objects, a metatarsal guard that shields the front of the foot is important. Is there risk from sharp objects or glass? Then a safety boot with mid-sole penetration protection is your best choice.

Another consideration is the moisture conditions at your work site. Long hours of exposure to wet feet can result in infections and blisters. Even short-term exposure to dampness can ruin your day on the job.

So be sure to select a safety boot that is weatherproof or water resistant. Premium, full-grain leather uppers provide the first defence against moisture. For additional water proofing, a membrane lining can be include in the boot.

Your choice of boots will also need to be resistant to other liquids like mineral oils and acids and even chemicals. Check the boot manufacturer’s recommendations carefully to see that your boots can resist these materials.

Comfort, of course, is of importance as most workers will be spending long hours of the day wearing safety footwear. A good safety boot should immediately feel comfortable without a suggestion that it is going to take some wearing in. When trying on a new safety boot, wear your everyday socks as this will help you check the comfort of your foot inside the boot.

Does the sole have defined comfort features? Is it flexible? Does it have a wide base for a grip on the surface? Take it for a walk in the store before you buy - on a firm surface like a concrete floor, not carpet. It will quickly show you just how comfortable it is likely to be.

Shock-absorbent removable insoles provide additional underfoot cushioning. They can be removed to be cleaned, replaced as needed or substituted with a custom prescription insert.

“Oliver continues to work closely with our customers to ensure we understand their workplace needs and deliver effective footwear solutions,” says Hughes. “It is this commitment to innovation and world’s best practice that is the foundation of the Oliver promise of comfort, performance and durability.”

Oliver Footwear commenced producing tough and durable boots for miners and farmers in 1887 and today operates a modern manufacturing plant in Ballarat, Australia, supported by a dedicated team of employees.

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