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For all jobs that involve manual labor, a good pair of safety footwear is an important safety feature and can prevent all manner of damage to the wearer’s feet.
Quite often a safety shoe is preferable over a safety boot or rigger boot. It may not offer as much protection around the ankle, but they are often just as fashionable as some of the best shoes and trainers out there, offering both style and safety, and a better freedom of movement that you just don’t get in a boot.
This article concentrates on safety shoes. If you think you may prefer to look into safety boots, please check out our best safety boots post. Or if you think rigger boots might be better for you, please see our best rigger boots post.
Safety shoes are popular across a wide range of industries, and as such there are many different options available. And not all safety shoes are created equal.
But not to worry – we’ve been working hard to make your decision of what safety shoes to get an easy choice.
We’ve handpicked our Top 5 of all the safety shoes that are out on the market today, and they’re all listed in Amazon’s best sellers for the category.
Our reviews on them will follow shortly, and then we have a buying guide for you, which plows through everything you might want to think about before you buy.
After that, we’ve also got a handy little section where we provide answers to some of your most frequently asked questions.
In a hurry? This is our winner!
Best Safety Shoes – Comparison Table
Best Safety Shoes – Reviews
Best Safety Shoes – Buyer’s Guide
To start our buying guide, we’ll begin with the different types of protection that safety shoes can offer, and then we’ll go into the details on safety shoe requirements.
Protection Against Falling Objects
Having something very heavy fall on your foot can be very painful and even debilitating if you don’t have sufficient toe protection, and is the most common cause of foot injury.
The primary feature of safety shoes, or any safety footwear for that matter, is the reinforced toe cap. What this feature does, is allow you to release your foot, should it become trapped under something.
Traditionally this reinforced toe cap is made from steel due to its sheer strength. But nowadays you can get reinforced toe caps that are much much lighter to wear. These composite toe caps can be made from a number of different materials, such as kevlar, fibreglass, plastic, and carbon fibre. Quite often these composite toe caps can be more durable than their steel counterparts.
Protection Against Slipping
Protection against slipping in your safety shoes all comes down to the outsoles, the part of the shoe in contact with the ground. Outsoles are typically made from polyurethane, TPU or rubber, and they are designed to provide the best possible grip on the ground (or other surface).
You need to select the right outsole for the environment the worker is in. Different surfaces provide different levels of grip, and some surfaces are more slippery than others.
Protection Against Punctures and Cutting
All of the outer materials of a safety shoe can come into protection against punctures and cuts.
If there’s a potential danger of walking on broken glass or scrap metal, then a good outsole is essential.
But if the wearer is going to be using machinery designed to cut, whether it be logging machines, or chainsaws etc, then you will also need a shoe with a good upper coating to prevent nasty accidents.
Other Types of Protection
Before buying your safety shoe, it’s important to think about all the different types of protection that might be required. We’ve touched on the main 3 types, but there are many more.
Many pairs of safety footwear out on the market today can protect the wearer from a wide range of dangers, including electrocution, protection against burns, water resistance, antistatic protection, and insulation against cold.
We’re going to level with you here – not all safety shoes have all of these different forms of protection in one shoe, and you must ensure that you double check the specs on your safety shoes so that the wearer gets all the protection they will need.
On closer examination of what safety features you need, you may possibly feel that a safety boot or rigger boot may better suit your needs. If you think this may be the case, please check out the articles on the safety boot link or the rigger boot link.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the work, safety and protective shoe norms?
In the UK, safety shoes must meet the EN ISO 20345 norm which requires:
- 200 joule impact resistance at the front of the shoe
- anti-slip soles on smooth and greasy floors in industrial environments
- closed back of the shoe
In order to meet the right level of impact resistance, the safety shoe must feature a reinforced toe cap. This can be made from still, which is more traditional and still quite popular, or it can be a composite material. Composite toe caps are often lighter to wear than their steel counterparts.
The fact that it stipulates a closed back to the shoe, means that flip flop style shoes are out of the question. It does not mean however that it has to be a boot. All of the safety shoes and safety trainers in our Top 5 picks have a closed back to them.
Who should wear safety shoes?
There are many occupations that require safety shoes, not just out of common sense, but as a requirement within the appropriate uniform of the role. Roofers, plumbers, tilers, labourers, handymen and women, and electricians should all wear safety shoes or boots.
But this is by no means an exhaustive list and it may surprise you to learn that safety shoes can also make a valuable contribution to chefs and store assistants in some instances.
Basically, safety shoes or boots should be worn by anyone dealing with Hazardous materials, Electrical instruments, Sharp objects, Heavy objects, or when Operating heavy machinery.