The most common form of safety shoes worn by construction workers, decorators and outdoor workers are the tan leather or suede-effect ankle-high kind with thick, durable laces and a good grip. These boots cushion the ankle in a soft, padded leather collar, and are extremely comfortable to wear. Widely available in adventure-gear stores, ordinary shoe shops and also online, these popular boots come in sizes and styles suitable for both men and women.
Many brands of safety shoes have steel toecaps as standard, which provide valuable extra support and protection if you are working outside or in an area with a high risk of falling objects, such as a building site. The steel toecaps are designed in such a way as to leave enough room in the shoe for your toes to move around.
Safety shoes must first and foremost provide adequate protection against heavy falling objects. They must also be extremely durable and able to withstand regular contact with rocks and construction materials. It is also vital that they be water resistant and protect the feet against the rain and cold, since outdoor workers have to face long hours out in all weather conditions. At the same time, the boots need to remain comfortable and flexible under a blazing sun. For these reasons, skimping on quality should not be an option when choosing safety shoes – you may save yourself some money by buying unbranded boots or those made by an unknown outfit, but the extra cost of buying a reputable brand will be money well spent should you find yourself outside in tough weather conditions, or if there is a construction-site accident.
Safety shoes are not only useful for builders and hikers: fire-fighters’ boots are available in a range of styles and materials, depending on which sort of fire is most likely to be encountered. They generally have steel toecaps and are made of very tough PVC materials. Specialist shoes that are worn in designated ‘clean rooms’ (such as in hospital operating theatres or factories) are also defined as safety shoes. They are generally white all over so that any mark or stain is visible, very lightweight and with a good-gripping plastic sole.
Away from dangerous occupations, a number of safety-shoe suppliers now do excellent ranges of soft-toe office shoes with non-slip soles, casual shoes that support the ankle and foot, and even heeled office shoes for women, which have been specially designed to provide comfort and the necessary support at the same time as looking stylish and fashionable.