Work boots are an essential type of personal protective equipment (PPE), protecting the feet and toes from injury and providing traction, making them key to fall prevention. And footwear that fits properly doesn’t just make you safer; it also increases comfort, concentration, and productivity, and reduces the risk of back pain and other problems. So, it’s a good idea to pay attention to these work boot selection tips for construction workers.
But choosing comfortable, properly fitting footwear with the right protective features and technologies can be a little tricky due to the large number of available options. These work boot selection tips help you figure out exactly what to look for to be sure you’re making a good pick.
Choosing the Right Work Boots for Construction
- Get footwear with a proper fit. It shouldn’t be so tight that it squeezes any part of your foot (which can lead to pain, stride problems, and other complications), but it also shouldn’t be loose enough that your foot slides around at all (which reduces your stability and can lead to blisters).
- Slip-resistant and puncture-resistant soles are a must. Heat-resistant and fire-resistant outsoles are too for anyone working around significant flames or high heat sources, such as welders.
- Look for newer models with more anatomically correct safety toe caps that meet the American Society for Testing Materials and Standards (ASTM) safety standards for crush and impact.
- Select flexible footwear that bends readily at the ball of your foot.
- You want work boots that provide arch support. However, few of them really provide great arch support, so it’s usually a good idea to invest in quality arch-supporting insole inserts.
- If you’re flat-footed, go with footwear that has a deep heel cup, as it will help stabilize your feet and keep you more comfortable.
- Materials like reflective webbing increase safety at night and in low lighting.
- Choose breathable work boots designed for ventilation to boost comfort, decrease sweating, and reduce odors.
- A waterproof lining is very helpful.
- Consider carbon-fiber safety toes as an alternative to steel-tipped boots, as this newer alternative is 15% lighter and better for temperature regulation (and also doesn’t trigger metal detectors, for workers at sites that include this safety measure).
- Direct-attach or cement construction are strong ways to combine the shoe and sole, but keep in mind that you can’t have work boots made this way resoled; they must be replaced.
- Women should wear work boots specifically designed for them. For a long time, female construction workers had no or few options besides footwear made for their male counterparts, but fortunately this is no longer the case. Today, they can get work boots that fit and feel much better.
- When trying on work boots, wear the same socks that you wear on the job.