When it comes to working in environments and conditions chock full of hazards, safety boots are a vital piece of personal protective equipment. As the last line of defense, your safety standard compliant boots keep you safe from dangerous chemical spills and heavy, crushing objects. But are your shoes still protecting your feet the right way?
For many workers, the last thing on your mind is inspecting and cleaning your safety boots. After all, you do not want to be late for work, and the boots will get dirty anyway. But hey; we’re not here to point any fingers at anyone, or toes for that matter. The main aim of this segment is to simply raise awareness and inform readers on one important issue; knowing when to replace your safety footwear.
Giving your Safety Shoes the Boot
Selecting the right type of footwear for the job is crucial to making sure your feet get adequate protection. However, getting the correct shoe for the task is only half the battle. The other half entails monitoring your pair of safety boots for signs and symptoms that the shoe needs to be retired. Experts do warn though that there is really no single formula for knowing precisely when to replace safety boots.
There are plenty of unique variables to consider such as job hazards, size and weight of the worker as well as how often the boot is worn. As a great rule of thumb, you should quickly dispose of your safety boots if there is even a single question that the boot can no longer function as it was intended. Here are some more indications that it’s time for your work boot to hit the road.
Dented or Damaged Toes
If your safety toe boots are looking a bit beat up, ensure that you inspect it thoroughly for any signs of physical abuse. While steel toe caps offer more tactile clues of physical damage, composite toe caps tend to be much harder to read. For example, if you drop a heavy crate on your steel toe boots, they are likely to be dented and will definitely not spring back. Composite toes, on the other hand, could be irrevocably damaged and still not show it. In both these cases, the safety boot needs to be replaced immediately because it will not offer the same protection the next time something happens.
Separation of Seams and Parts
Sudden impacts may not be the only culprit that kills off a good work boot. Wear and tear are often what finishes off may a great shoe. Whether your boots are made with Goodyear construction or cemented, it’s only a matter of time and use until something comes apart. Watch out for signs of separation between the uppers and sole, the safety cap, heel as well as other parts.
Wrinkling and Tilting
Thanks to wear and tear, exposure to heat, moisture, friction and other elements, certain areas of your work boot will warp and wrinkle. The midsole area is usually the first to go, and it indicates that your boot is losing its quality cushioning. Consequently, the treads also wear out unevenly and end up tilting as a result. When you place your safety footwear on a flat surface, they should rest flat. If they lean either outward or inward, then you know why your body and step alignment have been off. You should replace your worn out shoes before the wrinkling and tilting become any worse.
If your job involves working in damp conditions, being exposed to corrosive materials and other hazardous chemicals, the first signs of leakage should prompt your to immediately replace your work boots. However, you should not wait until your foot is soaked to the brim in acid; it is important to evaluate the fitness of your rubber shoes for any signs of cuts, punctures and any cracks on the footwear that could lead to leakages. Keeping in mind that your boots are the only thing between you and extremes like permanent tissue damage, it is recommended that you test the integrity of your work boot as often as possible. Maybe fill your shoes with water every once in a while to see if there is any sign of leakage.
Depending on how often you wear your work shoes as well as how much you weigh, worn tread are a definite sign that it’s time to replace your entire shoe or just the sole. Your shoe could be well protected from all other hazards, but once the treading is gone, you can say goodbye to stability. Falls and slips are very common in the workplace even with a well-treaded boot. Imagine the disaster waiting to happen if you waltz in with no traction at all.
No matter how much you love your work boot, it can only endure so much. Whether your boot fell as a result of wear and tear or got damaged doing what it was built for, you should consider replacing it to ensure your feet get maximum levels of protection. Remember, it’s not just about comfort and performance in the workplace, it’s also about your health and safety. You should never compromise on your health. It’s not worth losing a foot just to save on a few bucks. If your boot is not that severely damaged, you could still carry out repairs or donate to one of the charities that would appreciate a decent wearing shoe.