When it comes to most types of jobs, what you wear can make all the difference between a gruesome injury and a simple stub in the toe. Getting the right footwear will not only make your life easier, but it will also make you more efficient and confident on the job. Having already discussed how crucial it is to buy footwear that meets all federal and state safety standards and requirements, one question still remains unanswered. With all the different safety ratings, symbols and markings, how do you know which will complement your job best? We have put together this informative segment that will better educate customers on what the different safety ratings mean.
Safety Ratings Explained
There’s no doubt about it; looking for a great safety boot can be very confusing, especially when you factor in that most boots use symbols, letters and signs to label the protective properties found in their boots. Imagine being a first-time buyer and coming across labels like A+FO+C+E+WRU. If you are not familiar with what these ratings mean, you may end up going for all the wrong protective features. Decoding them is really simple; here’s a comprehensive look at some of the most common safety ratings and symbols.
Toe Protection (Safety Basic)
The toes are usually the most vulnerable part of your body no matter what environment you are operating in. If you come across work boots labeled SB, this means that the shoe offers the basic standards for safety which include a protective toe cap. This cap is built to withstand an impact of up to 200 joules as well a resting mass well over 1000Kg. This protective safety cap could be made of steel, alloy, composite material and many more. Depending on your work environment, the material for your safety toe should be chosen wisely. If you want more than a safety toe, you should look for work boots with additional symbols such as SB-P for penetration resistance.
Midsole Penetration Protection (P)
Whether enjoying the great outdoors or making your way around a construction site, sharp, piercing objects pose a very significant threat. You may be well protected by a steel safety toe, but it really won’t help much if an 8-inch nail tears you a new one from underneath. Going for shoes rated P ensures midsole protection that will prevent nails, glass and other sharp objects from going through your boot and of course, your foot too. Footwear rated P must resist a penetration force of 1100N and could be made of steel, aluminum or Kevlar insole.
Antistatic Protection (A)
There is a surprising amount of factors that can lead to a build-up of static charge electricity in the body. These include seating material, our clothes, the environment and even climate factors. If you wear shoes without an A safety rating, this charge is held in your body and is discharged with an uncomfortable shock when you touch a conductive surface. Wearing antistatic footwear significantly reduces this effect, but an A rating still does not offer adequate protection against exposure to electricity and electronics. For this, you may need Electro Static Protection (ESD).
Electrical Hazard (EH)
Shoes rated EH are constructed with absolutely zero conductive components and electrical shock resistant heels and soles. In case of any accidental contact with live electrical circuits and electrical apparatus, the outsole is engineered to provide a secondary source or resistance. Work boots with EH ratings should withstand the application of 60 Hertz or 18,000 volts for an entire minute with absolutely no current flow or leakage of more than a milliampere.
Energy Absorption (E)
The impact of your entire body weight on concrete surfaces or uneven terrain all day can be really painful and uncomfortable. This is why most workers prefer to buy shoes with energy or impact absorption.
Water Resistant (WR)
In most cases, working outdoors or in sites involves stepping in all kinds of messes. Ensuring that your work boot is rated as water resistant means you can work comfortably without worrying about soaking your foot. Some boots are only water resistant form the uppers and are rated as WRU.
Heat Resistant Outsole (HRO)
Today, plenty of industries operate in extreme temperatures that seep into the ground and can make walking a nightmare. Footwear rated as Heat Resistant ensures that your feet do not get baked and uncomfortable as you work. These boots are made to resist over 300 degrees for a full minute.
Imagine working out in the snow or a freezer all day with your ordinary pair of casual shoes. Not only will your feet freeze, but your shoe will also get stiff and make it impossible to walk. Insulated boots are made to handle temperatures as low as -20 degrees while still keeping your foot warm and cozy.
Ankle Protection (AN)
If your job involves an even higher risk of above the foot injury, it’s always wide to safeguard your entire foot. Ankle protection means your primary joint is safe during the job.
Cut Resistant Upper (CR)
Just like hazards from below, there is also a danger of getting your shoe cut and ripped from above. Walking around debris or in bushy areas will see a standard shoe get all scratched up and butchered. However, shoes with a CR rating will keep themselves as well as your foot safe from these cuts.
All the above features are great, but they mean nothing if you can’t maintain a firm grip and standing position. Slip-resistant boots will usually have the following codes.
-SRA for outsoles tested on ceramic tiles wetted with a very slippery, diluted soap solution of sodium lauryl sulphate
-SRB for soles tested with glycerol
-SRC for soles that were tried and tested under both SRA and SRB conditions
With more and more hazards appearing both at work and around the house, work boots are also evolving and incorporating amazing features designed to keep you safe. Now that you know the basics, shopping according to safety ratings should be much easier now. If you’re still not satisfied, we’ll have a piece that delves deeper into the individual safety ratings and all the features they comprise of. Remember, these are just the most common ratings; there are plenty more exciting features out there just waiting to be discovered.