Safety shoes also known as safety footwear, allow you to work in safe conditions without sacrificing comfort. Today, most workplaces require particular attention in terms of safety and companies are increasingly finding themselves having to comply with an increasing number of regulations that require the use of these shoes.
This guide is intended to help you choose the safety shoes that best suit your needs. Below you will find a detailed description of the selection criteria to be taken into consideration depending on your work environment and the work activity performed.
Safety shoes: which ones to choose?
To choose a pair of safety footwear, it is necessary to take into consideration a number of criteria, not only those related to personal safety, such as the protection class and additional protections, but also those related to aesthetics and comfort, like the materials in which the shoes are made and their shape.
Safety footwear, protective footwear and work footwear must not be confused. When choosing the product that best suits your needs, it will be appropriate to take into consideration the differences that exist between these types of footwear, differences mainly related to the presence or absence of a protective toecap.
How are safety shoes made?
Safety shoes are footwear with a particular structure that makes them suitable for work in places where the possibility of foot injury is high, such as construction sites or warehouses. In detail, the characteristic components of a safety shoe are:
- Toe cap: reinforcement part applied at the tip of the shoe that protects the toes from crushing or impacts;
- Anti-perforation foil: resistant material inserted inside the shoe with the aim of preventing sharp or cutting objects from reaching the foot;
- Sole: lower part of the shoe which can be anti-slip, anti-static, anti-acid, anti-abrasion;
- Upper: upper part of the shoe which, depending on the material with which it is made, offers waterproof, breathable, protective properties against acids or heat.
Safety shoes should not be evaluated through the aesthetic requirement, which is almost certainly the first factor that is considered when choosing a traditional shoe. For this reason, in fact, safety shoes are often not aesthetically pleasing.
Among the factors to be considered when choosing a safety shoe, in addition to safety, there are certain aspects such as the materials with which it is made, color, and flexibility. First of all, let’s analyze the flexibility that is linked to the materials used in the shoe.
As explained a few lines above, the materials with which the toecap and the anti-perforation plate are made have a significant impact on the weight of the shoe. Furthermore, imagining that you have a metal plate in the sole, it is easy to understand how the flexibility of the shoe is considerably reduced.
In particular, for example for electricians or plumbers who are often on their knees and, therefore, with their foot or toes bent, it is highly recommended to choose a type of shoe with a non-metal anti-puncture plate, such as Kevlar. The soles are made of polyurethane or nitrile rubber.
Furthermore, the absence of magnetic parts inside the shoe is a must for electricians. As mentioned, the new composite materials guarantee all the safety properties but with lower weight and stiffness than the shoe.
Furthermore, from the point of view of colors, the choice should be guided by a practical sense. Bricklayers and carpenters use the beige color because it can mask the dirt of mud and dust. The warehouse workers, the workers in mechanical workshops, and the haulers, on the other hand, aim for black to prevent dirt from being noticed.
Categories of safety shoes
1. Category SB
An SB branded safety shoe has a basic safety level, i.e. that corresponding to that indicated in the EN ISO 20345: 2011 standard, in which protection against the impact of at least 200 j is required, made with a toe to protect the fingers. In addition to this feature, the SB class safety shoes also have the properties of resistance to oils and hydrocarbons (FO), energy absorption in the heel area (E), presence of an antistatic sole (A).
2. Category S1
The next group is that of category S1 safety shoes. To the previous properties of SB is added the antistatic resistance, indicated by the letter A.
3. Category S1P
The next group is the S1P category: these shoes have an anti-perforation plate inside the sole, indicated by the letter P.
4. Category S2
The S2 category shoes combine the S1 category with a waterproof upper. This is able to guarantee absolute waterproofing for at least 60 minutes, achieved through a water-repellent treatment that causes an increase in cost.
Warning: this category does not have the anti-perforation plate inside the sole.
5. Category S3
The safety shoes identified with the S3 symbol combine the characteristics of the S2 with the anti-perforation midsole.
6. Category S4
If the waterproofness from 60 minutes of category S2 has increased up to 100% ie for any condition and duration, then the safety shoe is indicated with the symbol S4.
7. Category S5
Then when the anti-perforation lamina is added to S4, then the maximum degree of safety is obtained, indicated with S5. These are the shoes required for construction workers, such as bricklayers and carpenters.
In this article, we have seen how to choose the best safety shoes Safety shoes accompany us for a large part of the day, and for this reason, they must be comfortable, light and obviously protect us from possible dangers.
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