Choosing the Right Workwear Safety Shoes – 5 Pro Tips

Most people will need help in choosing the right workwear safety shoes. While you may think all shoes are designed similarly, this isn’t the case. There are slight differences in all types of footwear, and work safety shoes are no exception. There are slight nuances you need to look for when purchasing this type of footwear in addition to comfort and fit. After all, if your feet are sore, the rest of your body will suffer.


Choosing the right workwear safety shoes

Professional Tips for the Best Workwear Safety Shoes

Most people who require safety shoes are on their feet all day. Safety shoes can appear heavy and clunky to varying levels. This depends on whether you require one with just a steel toe or one with a steel toe and shank. Your job type will determine what you require.


1. Understanding Workplace Hazards:

  • Begin by identifying the potential hazards in your workplace. Consider factors such as heavy machinery, slippery surfaces, electrical currents, or exposure to chemicals. Understanding these risks will help you determine the necessary safety features.


2. Compliance with Safety Standards:

  • Ensure that the safety shoes you choose comply with relevant safety standards in your industry. Look for certifications such as ASTM, ANSI, or EN to guarantee that the footwear meets the required safety benchmarks.


3. Determining the Right Safety Toe:

  • Safety toes come in various materials, including steel, composite, and aluminum. Choose the material that aligns with your job requirements. Steel toes provide maximum protection against heavy objects, while composite toes are lighter and offer insulation from electrical hazards. Steel-toed work boots will protect your foot if something heavy drops on it. It will prevent your feet from becoming crushed and/or severely injured. This is for jobs that deal with moving heavy objects.


  • Steel shanks in work boots and shoes are comprised of durable plastic, wood, nylon, carbon fiber, steel, or fiberglass. Fiberglass would be the most flexible with steel being the least flexible material. The shank inserts above the outer sole of the shoe, or the bottom of the sole of a boot. It tends to be especially prominent in the midsection of your sole. Its purpose is to provide support between your insole and outsole. It rests below the arch and extends from the ball of the foot to the heel.


  • Shanks are used in boots and shoes to give extra strength, durability, and support to the footwear. The advantage is that they generate more balance and stability in your foot’s midsection and prevent excessive bilateral movements. There are two types of shanks: soft and hard. For safety wear, you will want a hard metal or steel shank. Use boots with a steel shank if you require additional arch support, or if your foot is very flexible. It will prevent you from injuring yourself and allow you to be on your feet for longer periods without experiencing fatigue.


4. Selecting the Appropriate Sole:

  • Different job environments call for specific sole materials. For instance, slip-resistant soles are vital for those working in slippery conditions, while puncture-resistant soles are crucial in environments with sharp objects. Choose soles that address the specific risks you face.


5. Considering Electrical Hazard Protection:

  • If you work around electricity, opt for safety shoes with EH (Electrical Hazard) protection. These shoes are designed to provide a secondary source of protection against electrical shocks, reducing the risk of injury. If you work with electrical equipment like chainsaws, or if you require protection from high levels of heat, you may want to consider a boot made from ballistic nylon. This is the most durable boot available and can easily protect your feet from all types of harm. In terms of soles, choose anti-perforation for mechanical workshops and anti-static for places with electrostatic discharges. If you work in welding, look for fire-retardant shoes.


6. Prioritizing Comfort and Fit:

  • Comfort is paramount for long hours on your feet. Choose safety shoes that offer proper arch support, cushioning, and breathable materials. Ensure the shoes fit well, with enough room for your toes and a secure heel to prevent blisters. This is the most important tip of all. Many people who spend all day on their feet suffer from pain in their legs, hips, and lower back. However, they likely never associate their discomfort with improper footwear.


  • Proper supporting footwear should put your body into alignment and allow you to walk straight. When your body is properly aligned, pressure is taken off supporting joints. When you wear proper safety boots with good support, you will notice a definite difference in the way you walk. At first, your body may feel sore as it adjusts. This is normal. After a while, your body should come back into alignment, alleviating pressure on the ankles, knees, hips, and lower back.


  • You will feel less fatigued as your body no longer needs to compensate for poor positioning. This will give you more energy as you work. Steel shanks may help. You can also look for removable insoles that offer you the most support. Some inserts provide arch support, heel cushioning, or a ball under the metatarsals for those who have pain in the balls of their feet or heavy callouses. You can also have custom orthotics made as well.


7. Waterproof and Chemical-Resistant Options:

  • Evaluate the work environment for exposure to water or chemicals. If applicable, choose safety shoes with waterproof features or resistance to specific chemicals. This ensures your feet remain dry and protected from potential harm. Waterproof shoes have seams that have a sealant protecting them. This is so water is unable to seep through them.


  • Water-resistant shoes, on the other hand, do not have reinforced seams. While they may keep you dry, there is a chance your feet will get wet. Another helpful tip is to make sure the tongue is attached to the boot running up the insole. This will eliminate the chance of water seeping into the boots. Furthermore, if you are working in wet environments, make sure your outsoles are mostly rubber or have an anti-slip grip so that you don’t fall at work.


8. Considering Temperature and Insulation:

  • If you work in extreme temperatures, select safety shoes with insulation or temperature-regulating features. Insulated footwear keeps your feet warm in cold conditions, while breathable materials prevent overheating in warmer environments.


  • Do you work indoors or outdoors? If you work outside, you’ll need a shoe or boot that will keep your feet warm as well. Materials like Thinsulate will keep you warm, but always check the rating before purchasing. Make sure it covers the weather conditions to which you’ll be exposed. Have a bit of wiggle room in the shoe, but not so much that it slips around when you wear it. A little extra space will allow air to circulate and keep you warm. Shoes that are too tight will make your feet cold because they don’t allow the natural warmth from your feet to circulate in the shoe.


9. Assessing Ankle Support:

  • Depending on the nature of your job, you may require additional ankle support. High-cut safety shoes or boots can provide extra stability and protection, especially in uneven terrain or environments with a risk of ankle injuries.


10. Regular Inspections and Maintenance:

  • Once you’ve chosen the right safety shoes, commit to regular inspections and maintenance. Check for wear and tear, replace insoles as needed, and ensure that all safety features remain intact for ongoing protection.

OSHA recommends wearing safety footwear if your workplace contains:

  • Hot or slippery surfaces
  • Molten metals that can splash onto feet
  • Sharp objects that may puncture the foot
  • Heavy objects that could crush the foot
  • Static electricity that may cause explosions
  • Electrical hazards
  • Poisonous or corrosive materials


Further guidelines can be found here.


When choosing the right workwear safety shoes, always buy from a reputable company that specializes in selling footwear. There are so many nuances involved that it will make the process seamless when you go with someone who knows what they are doing.


Remember to always go for safety and comfort over looks and buy footwear that is appropriate for your occupation. If you do this, your feet will be protected, and they will thank you at the end of the day.


Choosing the right safety shoes is an investment in your well-being at work. By considering workplace hazards, compliance with safety standards, and factors like comfort and fit, you can confidently step into your job with the assurance that your safety footwear is up to the task. Prioritize safety, and let your choice of safety shoes be a steadfast companion in your professional journey.


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