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Appropriate Work Boots for Factory Work: Why It Matters

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Factories are perhaps one of the most varied workplace settings. Every day, men and women manufacture and process chemicals, parts, machines and automobiles, and each type of factory work poses its own combination of hazards.

With so much happening on the floor at any time, the last thing workers need to worry about throughout their shift is the health and safety of their feet. Perhaps worse is focusing only on the work and forgetting about safety altogether. But with the wrong work boots for factory jobs, any number of hazards and oversights might converge and cause acute or chronic pain and injury, and that affects everything down the line.

Here's what you need to know about the right footwear for factory work.

Factory Work Poses Three Primary Risks

Although there are numerous types of factory jobs, they all have three things in common. Slipping accidents can happen anywhere, objects might fall, and standing all day can wreak havoc not only on feet but also on the legs, back and neck.

These three main risks affect what you need in a comfortable, safe work boot. Slipping hazards might come in the form of water, oil, chemicals, ice or a floor that's polished slick. Falling objects don't have to be large to cause injury. A wrench on a work bench is heavy enough to break a toe if it falls. And the heavier the object, the greater the risk.

Standing all day is detrimental for several reasons. And even the best supporting footwear can't completely make up for standing on a hard concrete floor. Standing can cause plantar fasciitis, arch pain and even varicose veins in the legs. That's why factories should offer seating nearby for breaks, adjustable work surfaces and a varied job that allows for movement throughout the day.

Slippery Floors Need Non-Skid Soles

Slip-and-fall injuries are among the most common in every job, no matter the industry. In a factory setting, hazards on the floor can allow even the most gripping-soled boots to lose traction and cause the worker to hydroplane. Mitigating slip hazards takes an examination of the type of hazard.

The boot tread should contain channels that open at the edge of the sole. Channels force liquids such as water, oil and chemicals through and out the sides, just like a vehicle tire works. If there's minimal tread or the tread has a ring around the edge that contains liquids instead of channeling them out, work boots can become a hazard on their own.

Slip-resistance depends on the type of hazard. Work boot ratings are sometimes based on testing in only one environment. So check the labeling to learn whether the boots you like are rated for the hazards you encounter on the flooring surface where you'll wear them.


Safety toe work boots are available in many different styles besides the traditional black leather lace-ups.

Safety Toes Guard Against Impact

For ages, the steel toe was the only safety toe work boot available. But steel is heavy, it conducts heat and cold, and it can even conduct electrical current.  Composite safety toe boots provide a comparable level of protection without the weight, heat and cold transfer, or risk of electrical shock.

CCOHS says PPE is designed to minimize risk exposure, and safety toe work boots are the best protection available against crushing, broken bones, amputations and other serious injuries. The steel or composite toe should cover all of the toes, and padding inside helps make them more comfortable.

Don't forget about  metatarsal and steel midsole protection. They guard against impacts on the top of the foot and punctures from the bottom. These protective features should be flexible enough to allow a natural walking gait.

Proper Support Reduces the Effect of Hard Surface Floors

No matter how much protection against crushing blows and punctures you have, a well-rounded work boot has the right kind of support to protect against hours of standing on your feet. Concrete flooring gives ordinary cushioned soles a run for their money, so you need something better suited to the environment.

Heels in factory-appropriate work boots should be low or flat, and the toe box should be wide. This provides stability while you stand for long periods and toe room to prevent circulation problems.

Extra heel support helps absorb the pressure from standing all day. As for the outsole thickness, the type of working hazards will determine what's best. A thicker sole isn't always better.

Not all work boots are the same, and no two are created equal. Some are exactly right for a construction site, and some are designed for working around concrete. Factory work varies tremendously, and workers face a number of hazards that affect comfort and safety.

There's no single boot that's exactly right for every factory worker. The important thing is finding the right combination of comfort and protection against the most prevalent hazards that you face. /a>

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