Protecting your feet on the job is essential for reducing the risk of injury and preventing persistent foot and back pain. Choosing the right safety toe boot is the first step toward ensuring your feet are well cared for.
Many types of safety toe boots are on the market, and selecting the right one requires understanding your options. In our guide, we help you differentiate the types of safety boots, their essential features, and how to select the correct size to find the proper footwear to meet your needs.
The Different Types of Safety Boots
In the world of workwear, not all boots are created equal. Regarding safety boots, there’s a variety out there, each designed to suit different work environments and needs. From steel toe boots that can withstand heavy impact to composite toe boots for electrical safety work, let’s look at the different safety boots available.
Steel toe boots offer robust protection, making them an excellent choice for heavy-duty industrial tasks. While they might be heavier and can run hot or cold depending on the temperature, they are often less expensive than other work boots.
Lightweight but still rugged, these boots are typically the go-to choice in electronic or metal-free settings. With composite toe boots becoming increasingly popular and more manufacturers making this type of boot, their prices have dropped, making them a more affordable option.
Constructed as an alternative to steel toe boots, aluminum toe boots offer equal protection, but they feature a lighter design that makes these boots less heavy to wear.
Similar in function and weight to aluminum toe boots, the toe box is protected by a composite alloy that combines a few metallic components.
Know Your Toes Tip: Every boot sold at BareBones WorkWear® meets the standards of the American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
For ASTM, boots with protective toe caps must meet impact and compression standards. In addition, OSHA guidelines suggest footwear worn in areas with a risk of foot injuries have protective toe boxes. Furthermore, the shoes must be designed to protect against electrical hazards, corrosive materials, sharp objects, and slippery surfaces.
The Importance of Choosing the Right Boot
Wearing the wrong safety toe boot is hazardous. Not only will your feet be unprotected in the event of an accident, but the wrong boots can also make long workdays uncomfortable. How much protection and comfort you need depends on the type of work you’re performing and the environment you’re working in. However, the right fit is still the most important element when choosing which boot is right for you.
Determining Safety Toe Needs
Ask yourself — What is my role in the workplace? Am I frequently lifting heavy objects, or is there a risk of heavy items falling on my feet?
Your workplace should have a safety plan that sets standards and guidelines for protecting your feet. For example, your workplace may require wearing safety toe boots in environments where dropping heavy items is a risk.
You may need to wear EH rated boots if working in an electrical environment. Don’t worry about the toe composition because EH can apply to steel toe as well as non-metal toe boots.
Know Your Toes Tip: Most boots are either going to be rated EH or SD. They have opposite functions, as SD rating is for static dissipative and is largely used for “clean room,” or where you need protection from static electricity.
You should consult your workplace’s safety plan to determine which type of safety toe boot you must wear before starting work.
You will likely be wearing these boots for extended periods, so get comfortable boots with features like a cushioned sole or breathable lining that will help keep your feet and body relaxed.
Your toes need plenty of space to move around, so look for boots with ample toe room. You should be able to freely wiggle your toes when wearing the boots. One way to determine if a boot is too tight is to measure if there is a thumbs-width of space from the tip of the boot to the tip of your big toe. Some boots are made with asymmetrical safety toes. These boots are custom molded in the toe for each foot. KEEN Utility has many asymmetrical made boots.
A good fit equals good protection and comfort, so don’t pick up a pair of boots without first trying them on. Boot size can differ between manufacturers, so a 12 from one brand may fit like an 11 ½ from another. Don’t assume your standard boot size is correct, or you could end up with boots too big or small for your feet.
Ensuring a good fit for your boots is crucial, and we can help you find the proper fit with an Aetrex 3D measurement scan. Ask a BareBones WorkWear® professional to scan your feet for free the next time you visit one of our eight locations. Ill-fitting shoes can be uncomfortable and lead to blisters or other foot injuries, so it’s worth getting the right boot to fit your feet properly.
Know Your Toes Tip: Your foot should feel centered in the boot, and your heel should not come up as you walk. The tip of your toe should be a thumbs-width from the tip of the boot.
Common Safety Standards
|OSHA Standard 1910.136||Guidelines for protective footwear worn in any environment with a potential risk of foot injuries. This level of protection may or may not require safety toe boots.|
|ASTM Standard F2412-05 and F2413-05||Specifies minimum standards for impact and compression resistance, metatarsal impact, and protection against electrical hazards from live circuits, among others.|
Tips for Buying Boots That Fit
Getting the proper fit for your boots isn’t just about comfort but safety as well. A well-fitted boot can make the difference between a productive day at work and one filled with discomfort or injury. Here are some helpful tips to ensure your boots fit correctly and provide protection.
Measure Your Feet
Your shoe size can change over time due to aging and weight fluctuations. You need to have your feet measured by a BareBones professional at least once a year. They use Aetrex, a state-of-the-art technology and tools to precisely measure your feet, considering their length, width, and arch type. This accurate sizing information ensures your boots will fit comfortably and provide the necessary safety and support.
Try Boots on at the End of the Working Day
Remember that your feet generally swell throughout a workday due to prolonged standing or walking. Therefore, finding boots that still feel comfortable at the end of the day means they’ll be snug and supportive all day, regardless of any natural swelling. This way, you ensure continuous comfort and fit from the start of your shift to the end.
Wear the Socks You’ll Be Wearing on the Job
If you’re buying heavy socks to wear with your work boots, we recommend treating yourself to a new pair of Carhartt, Wigwam, Fox River, or BareBones Brand work socks. We suggest wearing wool socks during all seasons. Wool socks offer additional support and comfort, absorb sweat, and prevent chafing and blisters. They are actually cooler in hot temperatures because they breath and don’t hold moisture like cotton socks.
Maintenance and Care
Care for your boots as instructed by the manufacturer. Proper care can increase the life of your boots and provide an added layer of protection. Wipe down the boots daily to remove dirt and debris and frequently change the insoles to maintain their cushioning ability. Use BareBones Oil or Lube for extended leather care and waterproofing.
Know Your Toes Tip: Place a shoehorn inside to retain its shape when not using the boots. Step in a pool of water? Time to look at boot dryers at BareBones or, in a pinch, stuff the insides with crumbled newspaper.
Other Specs to Consider
Including a safety toe tops most workplaces’ list of boot requirements. But there are other specifications and materials worth considering depending on your needs. Consider the following:
The Right Boot Can Make All of the Difference
Choosing the right safety toe boot is vital to ensuring comfort and safety at your workplace. As we’ve covered, various options are available, each designed for specific needs and environments. Remember to consider factors like boot type, weight, material, and, most importantly, fit when selecting your next boot. By investing time in finding the right safety boot, you’re investing in your well-being and productivity on the job.
We like to think of ourselves at BareBones as Boot Ambassadors, and we carefully choose the boots available at each location based on customers’ needs in that area. The best boots come from manufacturers like Danner, Carhartt, KEEN Utility, Timberland Pro, Irish Setter, Die Hard, Red Wing, WorkZone, Ariat, Thorogood, Nicks, Whites, Rocky, Georgia, Carolina, Kenetrek, Puma, Muck, Reebok, Wesco, Wolverine, Volcom, and of course the BareBones Barey brand. We offer these brands and more at the lowest possible price to make getting the boots your work requires more affordable.
Don’t keep using the same worn-down pair of work boots or make the mistake of buying the wrong boot for your workplace. Stop by any of our eight BareBones WorkWear® locations, get measured, and pick out the right pair to give your feet the protection they deserve.