Footwear is a key part of any safety and protection program. While employers and employees want to avoid injuries, standing for long periods can lead to tired, accident-prone feet. There are key features to consider when looking for the right shoes. Ahead, we will outline select considerations for footwear that will keep you protected while on the job site.

Slip Resistance

Slip resistance, or traction, is a vital component and very important to consider. Choosing appropriate, slip-resistant footwear can be difficult, as there is a lot of industry frustration and confusion around slip ratings. It is vital to understand which ratings are relevant to specific tasks and jobs. Many shoes and boots will say they are slip-resistant or call out their slip resistance as fair, good or use another subjective term.

If you are looking for footwear to be compliant to a Slip Hazard Assessment Plan, it is important to request and review the manufacturer’s actual slip scores in the standardised tests.

Toe Type: Composite or Steel Toe

Toe types make a big difference and should be chosen carefully based on the task at hand (or foot.) Steel is the heaviest safety toe material but often offers a sleeker profile as it’s more compact. Steel toe boots are the traditional choice, but there are other, non-metallic options such as composite toe boots. Composite has no magnetic signature and transfers cold slower than metals, so it will lend more comfort to the wearer in colder environments. As with most things, the toe type presents additional options for wear depending upon the environment in which you work. The test for toe protection is pass/fail, so one cannot claim to be ultimately superior to another. While the tests for CSA and ASTM differ slightly, generally any toe that passes one will pass the other. The following is a list of safety toe options and their benefits:

Aluminum Alloy Toes are generally also non-magnetic and good for security. These are often the lightest weight of the three generally available safety toe options.

Composite Fiberglass/Carbon Fiber are non-metallic fibres suspended in a plastic resin. The main benefit of these non-metallic toes is that they conduct heat and cold slower than metal and don’t have a magnetic signature. As such, workers in cold environments or those concerned with magnetic signature—security, nuclear power plants, smelters and MRI machines—should choose this option.

Steel Toes are also available, but you may ask why someone would choose a steel toe when more advanced, lighter compounds are available. The weight difference between steel and the alternative is about 45 grams (or about 8 quarters) in weight amount. Dependent on the use case and wearer, this may or may not be a significant amount of weight.

Rubber and PVC

Rubber and PVC are high-performance materials that have many applications in work boots. Due to their signature chemical nature, they respond differently to compounds found in the workplace. As a result, we recommend always testing products in the field to see how it performs not only with the contaminating chemicals, but also the ones that are the counter-agents. Neoprene refers to a family of synthetic rubber that can be used in both liquid and foamed executions. The liquid form is used in lines where boots are dipped in liquid neoprene and then vulcanized. This results in an upper section with no exposed seams. The neoprene can also be foamed with a blowing agent, resulting in a material used in wet-suits. The benefit of this foamed version is that it is naturally insulating and cushioning.

Waterproofness: Non-waterproof, Seam-Sealed versus Bagged

Waterproof footwear is nice to have, but if you perspire a lot, you may have dampness in your boots from your sweat before any outside water even penetrates. Bagged products cost more than just seam-sealed ones, but tend to last longer and protect the feet more if you tend to sweat a lot. This choice is dependent upon the job at hand and your body’s comfort level in the conditions that you are working in.

Proper Fit for Your Foot

As with any footwear, the fit is the most important feature. No matter the quality of materials or excellence in design, a boot that does not match your foot’s particular shape will be unsatisfactory. Things to consider when looking for a boot are:

  • Do your toes have room to move?
  • Is there noticeable heel slippage?
  • Are the lining materials rough
  • Do the lining materials have heavy seams?
  • Does the insole have too much or too little structure?


So, for all your safety footwear look no further than the team at PPE Stores. Call us on 0115 952 3096 or email

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