Put your best foot forward

Protective wear lays foundation for safer conditions

Mark Reilly / June 08, 2016
Mark Reilly
Mark Reilly

Improving our nation’s infrastructure though the construction and maintenance of roads and bridges is a vital part of making our country great.

From architects and planners to jobsite crews, these hard-working professionals face long days on their feet in sometimes challenging environments.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2014 there were 316,650 incidents of slips, trips and falls that resulted in days off from work. A jobsite injury is serious business, for both workers and employers. Choosing the right safety footwear provides an excellent foundation for work-site safety and improving the overall work experience.

Tread design

Choosing the correct tread design of the outsole becomes incredibly important for workers dealing with conditions where footing can be, at best, uneasy.

Finding footwear with a lugged perimeter and tighter, smaller tread design from heel strike through forefoot will help alleviate slips on wet or oily surfaces. It displaces liquid quickly to guarantee the most surface area contact for sure footing.

Walking on a work site with a lot of debris and potential for mud, the tread design should be further apart, more lugged to grip into the grim and displace it as quickly as possible, but also to self-clean, so with each step taken you are assured it will be stable, secure and safe.

Walking on a work site with a lot of debris and potential for mud, the tread design should be further apart, more lugged to grip into the grim and displace it as quickly as possible, but also to self-clean, so with each step taken you are assured it will be stable, secure and safe.

Construction

The construction of work footwear also is important to understand because one choice of footwear should not be based simply on its looks, but rather on its construction and fit.

A Goodyear Welt construction is the best selection if the terrain and surface area being walked on/worked on is incredibly rocky and uneven. This construction style offers unbelievable torsion control to ensure the foot will not flex over rocks or fatigue the legs or lower back.

The Direct Attach construction offers some torsion control, but is not as heavy and stiff as the Goodyear Welt. Its optimal work environment is medium gravel, some uneven work areas, but most general work areas.

Cement-style construction offers the lightest weight of all three, but it also is the most flexible. Its benefit is offering optimal comfort and cushioning, but it also offers, depending on the overall construction, the ability to feel the ground or work surface area beneath the foot. For example, in roofing, it is ideal to feel where the foot is placed and be surefooted.

Fit matters

Finding the right fit is incredibly important. Shop for work boots in the afternoon or evening. Feet tend to swell throughout the day, especially for those on their feet. If the boots are too tight, it leads to a variety of foot ailments including in-grown toenails, blisters, corns or worse. Don’t be afraid to move up a half-size or adjust the type of socks you are wearing; wool or wool blends are best for natural climate control. Your feet will thank you.

About the Author

Reilly is division director for Keen Utility.

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