Home/Health and Safety/Unsuitable safety shoes can hurt your feet

According to the World Health Organization, only 25% of women and 15% of men over the age of 30 in the world do not suffer from foot problems. Among the many foot disease patients, most of them are caused by improper shoes in the past. According to a survey, 83% of people wear shoes that are not the right size. This leads to various foot and leg diseases, such as flat feet, high arched feet, O-shaped legs, X-shaped legs, hallux valgus, etc. Therefore, it is very important to wear a pair of comfortable, scientific and suitable shoes in the process of daily work.

You may have heard workers complain of discomfort or pain from wearing safety shoes. Work boots and work shoes are essential to keeping employees safe, but they can cause problems if not chosen carefully.

Numerous studies have found that people who wear safety shoes for long periods of time develop one or more foot problems. Others cited the impact of safety shoes on other health-related problems, such as back pain and injuries, and its association with poor concentration and increased risk of accidents. With this in mind, careful selection of safety boots and shoes is critical to both reduce the development of health problems and avoid negatively impacting productivity.

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Risks of bad safety shoes

Many worker roles require them to be standing most of the day. Some people wear safety boots more than any other type of shoe. Foot injuries and conditions can occur if inappropriate footwear is regularly worn. Footwear that is too tight, too heavy, and lacks friction or thermal protection can cause short-term discomfort and long-term health problems for the wearer.

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RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) is one of the most common health problems in the workplace. This causes the individual to experience pain and pain in the upper body, often due to repetitive movements or poor working posture. More than half of occupational injuries are directly related to hands and feet. Musculoskeletal disorders such as plantar fasciitis, collapsed arches, or flat feet are also common and many cases go undiagnosed. Over time, workers with these conditions can suffer secondary injuries to their knees, hips, spine and even neck. Work boots and shoes with poor plantar or heel support are one of the main causes of plantar fasciitis due to excessive internal rotation of the foot, collapse of the arch, and “rolling” and elongation of the foot. This can put excessive stress on the ligaments, muscles, and nerves of the foot.

What is the answer to preventing these foot-related health problems? Provide high quality and supportive footwear!

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With all the potential safety hazards in the workplace, feet are especially vulnerable. Falling objects, sharp objects on the floor and slippery surfaces are common hazards that put workers at risk of foot injury, with slips, trips and falls accounting for 31% of all non-fatal workplace injuries in 2017/18. In all of these situations, safety shoes can serve as a critical line of defense against injury.

Non-slip safety shoes minimize the risk of slips, trips and falls, while insulated steel toe-toe boots protect the wearer from extreme temperatures and health problems caused by falling objects. All workplaces are different, so will the type of safety shoes required. It’s important to consider the specific hazards that exist in the workplace and choose the right safety footwear to keep your employees safe from injury. Work injuries can adversely affect performance and productivity, so preventing them is critical to the continued success of a business. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a simple guide below on how to choose safety shoes so you can rest assured that your team is safe, healthy, comfortable and able to get the job done.

Safety shoes must be fit for purpose

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The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 states that if a risk has been identified and cannot be controlled in any other way, protective equipment, including footwear, must be provided.

No pair of safety boots or shoes is perfect for all applications. Safety footwear risk assessments must be performed individually for each work area in order to select the correct footwear to prevent current hazards. The first thing to consider is the risk in each environment. Is there a risk of water, oil, falling objects, hot surfaces, electrical hazards or acids? All of this can prevent the use of proper footwear, which may include waterproof safety boots, non-slip safety shoes, or insulated safety toe boots. If your workers are likely to be very active or work in hot conditions, you might also consider breathable safety shoes. The options are almost endless, so it is important to consider the relevant health and safety footwear regulations to ensure that the footwear you choose is fully compliant.

EN ISO 20345 is the standard for all work boots and footwear belonging to the category “Safety footwear”. The standard specifies an impact resistance of 200 joules and a compression test of 15KN, which is equivalent to dropping a weight of 20kg from 1,020mm onto the toe and placing a weight of 1.5t on the toe. The reference rating is important — it tells you what properties the shoe has — so you can directly link hazards in a specific environment to the best product for the job. Safety shoe manufacturers display these ratings as codes. For example, the V12 Thunder Boots are rated S3 HRO WR SRC. This means they have midsole penetration protection (S3), water repellency (WR), heat resistant outsole (HRO) tested to 300°C, and have been used on tile dampened with a dilute soap solution and on smooth steel Glycerol (SRC). For the complete standard for foot and leg protection and what each code means, you can refer to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) document.

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Of course, all of this is superfluous if your employees refuse to wear PPE. If this is the case, you need to educate them about the importance of using the right safety shoes and motivate your team to wear PPE for improved safety, not only for themselves but for their colleagues.

Make sure work boots and shoes fit

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Achieving a good fit is just as important as ensuring that footwear is appropriate for the work environment and occupation. Poorly fitting shoes can lead to bunions, corns, calluses, and other foot problems.

Often, workers experience discomfort because they are not wearing the correct size. A well-fitting shoe should allow room for the toes to wiggle, with about a 1cm gap between the longest toe and the toe. In the case of metal or composite toe caps, if the shoe is properly padded and fitted, you should not feel the toe at all. The heel should fit snugly against the foot and stabilize the foot as it touches the ground.

Workers should be advised to measure their feet as they may vary in size, with equal consideration for length, depth and width. Regular measurements should be taken if there are any changes in the size and shape of the feet.

You also need to consider the difference between men’s and women’s sizes. Until recently, women-specific PPE alternatives were limited, and often, downsizing was the only option women had for safety shoes. However, safety shoe manufacturers such as V12 are now producing women’s safety shoes designed for women’s feet.

Make sure your work shoes are comfortable

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Sometimes work boots and shoes can still be uncomfortable despite wearing the correct size and choosing footwear that meets all relevant safety regulations. Perfectly fitting waterproof safety boots can still be uncomfortable if not carefully selected. While they may provide the necessary protection, they may not fit the wearer’s feet or work roles at all. It’s a good idea to have workers try several types or brands of footwear and gather their feedback. After all, the people who wear them every day!

Fit is important, but you should also consider other comfort factors. Breathable safety boots keep feet from getting hot, sweaty and uncomfortable – an investment your employees will thank you for. There are also ways to add comfort without changing the style of your boots, including wearing insoles and quality socks. When your employees are comfortable, they’re better equipped to perform to their best abilities, so investing in proper, comfortable footwear can really make a difference in your business’s work output.

Workers are advised against the idea of ​​”putting on” new shoes because contrary to popular belief, if a shoe fits, it should feel comfortable immediately. If discomfort occurs early and the insoles and socks are unaffected, employees are advised to try a different shoe rather than grin and bear it. Uncomfortable safety shoes should not be put up with and it is important to show workers that their comfort is not a secondary consideration.

Make sure your work shoes are comfortable

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Once you have a shoe that fits, fits and is comfortable, you need to ensure that the quality of the shoe is maintained. If footwear is not regularly maintained, it can quickly become unsuitable despite all the precautions taken. HSE recommends that PPE must be properly handled and stored when not in use. Safety shoes should always be inspected for malfunction, damage, wear and dirt before wearing.

Footwear should also be washed regularly. If the boots are smooth leather, they should be polished and treated; if you offer suede shoes, they must be brushed and water repellent sprayed. Soles should be brushed to remove dirt and contaminants, and shoes should be stored in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. For more detailed cleaning instructions, you should refer to the maintenance guide provided by the safety shoe manufacturer of your choice.

Once safety shoes are no longer fit for purpose and beyond repair, it’s time to replace them. When footwear reaches retirement age, there are several warning signs, such as damaged toes, exposed protective components, separation of rubber or PVC components, worn tread designs, and cuts, cracks, or perforations that could lead to leaks. If you have any doubts about whether the shoe will perform as originally intended, it’s time to throw it away


Providing your team with a pair of “standard” safety boots is not enough to keep your employees safe and comfortable, regardless of their role, work environment or personal needs. Safety footwear should be selected carefully with due consideration to fit, comfort, purpose and specific workplace hazards that employees may face. A good starting point for choosing work boots and shoes is to refer to the EN ISO 20345 standard. Employees who feel protected, valued, safe and comfortable are more likely to be satisfied and motivated to perform at their best. Investing in the right safety shoes is good for both employers and employees, and you won’t regret it, so why not browse our extensive range today and choose the perfect safety shoe for your team?