While on the job your personal safety should be top priority. Wearing the correct footwear is essential in injury prevention. Steel toe boots have a steel or non-metallic cap that covers the toes protecting them from injury. According to OSHA 1915.156, employers must require workers to wear protective footwear when hazards are posed from, "falling or rolling objects or objects piercing the sole." A steel toe can save your toes from being crushed or punctured by falling objects. Metatarsal work boots are another great option for anyone working in a very dangerous position. These work boots have a steel plate that not only protects the toes but also the fragile metatarsal bones connected to the toes.
Internationally all protective footwear must be compliant with American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) performance standards (formally ANSI). OSHA also requires work boots to comply with ASTM standards. Work boots that meet ASTM’s requirements will be labeled ASTM F2413. Any numbers or letters following this code are ratings attributed to that specific work boot, identifying the sex of person the boot was made for (M or F), the year of compliance (05), and the impact and compression ratings. It’s important to understand the impact and compressing ratings because the steel toe or shield protecting your foot can crack or collapse if an object heaver than the recommended weight falls on your foot.
|I/50||Impact rating of 50 lbs. dropped from 12"|
|I/75||Impact rating of 75 lbs. dropped from 18"|
|C/50||Compression rating of 50 = 1,750 lbs.|
|C/75||Compression rating of 75 = 2,500 lbs.|
Steel toe boots are usually made out of leather and sometime synthetic materials, and have a steel plate fitted into the toe. Construction workers and many factory workers are required to wear these boots on a daily basis.
|1.) Look for boots that are made of thick, tough leather. With proper care these generally last longer and are a better quality than boots made from synthetic materials.|
|2.) If you work outdoors, choose a waterproof boot. A boot that isn’t waterproof can be damaged by even a little bit of water. This damage can compromise its capability to keep you safe.|
|3.) Higher boots offer more protection. You may be able to get a boot that rises up to mid-calf and can keep you warm in cold weather and protect against debris.|
|4.) Make sure that your work boot offers plenty of support. This will not only help to keep you comfortable, but will help your overall health in the long run. Proper support can minimize the possibility of back, neck, leg, and foot pain.|
|5.) Purchase work boots that fit well. A general rule to follow is to buy half a size bigger than you normal shoe size. This allows for swelling which normally occurs when you are on your feet all day. Also, if you are trying on boots in a store, wear thicker socks for an accurate fit.|
|6.) Every brand of steel toed boots offers different features. Try to find a brand that has all the features you need. Also check out online reviews to see how others rated certain brands/styles of work boots.|
Replacing a damaged work boot is an important factor in your protection. Generally if your boot looks badly worn or shows any dents in the toe, you should buy a new pair. If your boots have suffered any impact, you should probably replace them. Even if your boots look fine on the outside, the durability of the steel cap may be reduced. Compromised footwear can be X-rayed to check the extent of damage done to the steel toe, however, X-raying your boots may cost more than buying a new pair. Although it is nuisance to spend money on a new pair of boots, you could be saving yourself thousands of dollars in medical bills by preventing an injury.