Understanding safety shoes

Safety Shoes or Safety boots are footwear designed specifically for moving and working in Industrial, Construction and outdoor environments with your feet fully protected. They are built with a composition of materials that withstand and safeguard against all types of risks that exist in different work settings and go through rigorous multi-layered quality tests that guarantee for their utility. Whether it's the risk of heavy tools falling on feet, exposure to electrical wires, or slippery floors, Safety Shoes with the right soles are crucial in preventing injuries from these workplace dangers.

Why is it important to wear safety shoes?

There are several kinds of industrial workspaces like factories, production assemblies, construction sites, warehouses, oil and chemical extraction and processing plants etc. with activities that make foot protection necessary. Especially, against heavy or sharp objects, slippery surface, hazardous waste, chemical spills etc. These safety shoes bear protective toes, treated fabric/leather texture on its upper surface to provide that sturdiness and layered protection for your feet.

Safety shoes protect against heat, chemicals, oils, shocks, and acids. They come in various options like light weight safety shoes, composite toe safety shoes, and steel toe safety shoes to suit your specific needs. They are also crafted for comfort with features like cushioning and moisture-absorbing lining to keep feet dry and warm. Solid materials in the toe make them strong and long-lasting.

Things to check before buying safety shoes

The most critical aspect of using safety shoes is making the right choice in wearing one, based upon certain mandatory conditions that have been thoroughly researched and established for user benefit. Below are some major factors that must be taken into consideration before buying one.

  1. Certification

    The certification of a safety shoe serves as the strongest point of guarantee and assurance for its quality and compatibility towards the purpose of usage. For a safety shoe to be certified, it adheres to the maximum quality declared under the norm and has appeared in the listed tests and result values mandated under it. Three basic norms for safety shoes in India are:

    1. EN ISO 20345:2004:
    2. EN ISO norms (EN ISO 20345) outline requirements for industrial safety shoes, including protection against toe impacts (200 Joules), compression (15 kN) (like 1.5 tones placed on the toe area), slips, oils, and electrical hazards. These standards ensure safety for workers in industries of the European region.

    3. ISI:
    4. ISI norms (IS 15298:2011) for industrial safety shoes mandate toe impact resistance of 100 Joules, compression resistance of 15 kN, slip and oil resistance, electrical insulation, and durable sole construction. This standard ensures safety and protection for workers in various industrial environments.

    5. DGMS:
    6. DGMS (Directorate General of Mines Safety) certification ensures industrial safety shoes meet standards for use in Indian mining environments, guaranteeing protection against hazards like falling objects and electrical risks. Manufacturers adhere to DGMS requirements, subjecting their products to rigorous testing to attain certification, marking them as safe and reliable for miners.

  2. Properties

    Foot Protection
  3. Category Classification:

    For a safety shoe to be effective it requires a comprehensive built, with a few above listed properties. These compositions vary based upon the scenario for which the shoes are required. Hence, they are classified into different protection categories as listed below.

    SB:All the basic categories as per subject norms

    S1:Has all the characteristics present with SB along with some additional properties like;

    • Antistatic Footwear (A)
    • Energy Absorption in the heel region (E)
    • Closed Seat Region
    • Resistance to Fuel Oil (FO)

    S2:Has all the characteristics present with S1 along with additional properties like.

    • Water Penetration and Water Absorption Resistant Upper (WRU)

    S3:Has all the characteristics present with S2 along with additional properties like.

    • Anti-Penetration Midsole
    • Cleated Outsole

Choosing safety shoes based upon application

There are various activities across diverse industries such as mining, construction, manufacturing, chemical production, heat furnaces, Information technology etc. Due to the risks involved with the equipment and materials that take a central part in the working of these industries, choosing the right safety shoe based upon the subject scenario becomes critical. For instance, Antistatic safety shoes are essential in sectors like petrochemicals, flammable chemicals, pharmaceuticals, paints and adhesives, automobile, and IT industry. ESD safety shoes are compulsory in fields involving computers, electronics and circuits, and ordnance arms and ammunitions.

Based upon the area/situation/scenario of usage, safety shoes can be selected keeping the following factors in mind.

  1. Sole Type: The below listed soles play a vital role in ensuring safety with other required attributes.

    1. Single Density PU Sole: The below listed soles play a vital role in ensuring safety with other required attributes.
    2. Double Density PU Sole: The below listed soles play a vital role in ensuring safety with other required attributes.
    3. Double Density PU/TPU Sole: The below listed soles play a vital role in ensuring safety with other required attributes.
    4. PU Nitrile Sole: The below listed soles play a vital role in ensuring safety with other required attributes.
  2. Toe Caps: They have a central role in adherence to upper safety requirements for safety shoes and are mainly of two types:

    1. Steel Toe:Made from high Carbon Steel with a surface finish for excellent penetration and corrosion resistance.
    2. Composite Toe:Made from high strength polymer that ensures great penetration resistance while being light in weight.
  3. Leather/Fabric: The upper of the safety shoes are the first line of defense against industrial hazards. Primarily safety shoes deploy two kinds of upper based on:

    1. Leather:Safety shoes with upper made from Full Grain Leather offer the highest quality upper protection since it is the richest in quality.
    2. Fabric:For intense and longer working hours and in areas of mild risks, safety shoes with upper made from Flyknit Fabric have the most utility. They incorporate strength, breathability, flexibility, and mobility while being light in weight all along.
  4. Internal/Outdoor Environments:Industrial functions require an overall 360˚ coverage over different working scenarios and risks; thus, making them a prime factor for selection of safety shoes. For simplification, it can be mainly bifurcated into two.

    1. Internal Environment:The internal working scenarios take place withing sheds and confinement of four walls. Major threats here are dents, scratches from sharp machine corners, oil/chemical spills and slippages, static charges etc. Hence, hard upper, chemical, and static charge resistant soles become a basic need for instance.
    2. Outdoor/External Environments:The external working scenarios can comprise of all the activities that take place outside of factories/sheds. This includes construction sites, mining areas, oil rigs, ports etc. Such places require intense working against weather and uneven terrain hence, breathability, lightweight, high strength, traction, shock absorption, slip resistance etc. become highly important.