Safety boots are essential for foot protection across a wide range of industry. The construction industry in particular springs to mind, but they’re also vital in a range of other industries, such as for kitchen installation, warehousing and a lot of factory work.
And with such wide demand, as you might imagine, there is quite the array of options out there.
A good pair of safety boots can protect you from several different types of injury and risk, but a perfect pair that will cover all possible scenarios are somewhat harder to come by, and it can be difficult to ascertain which pair is the best for your needs.
Even the government’s HSE suggest that the final choice may have to be a compromise.
But not to worry – we’ve identified 5 of the best safety boots out on the market today and have reviews of them for you. After that we also have a buying guide to walk you through a few things you might like to think about before making your purchase.
Then we have a handy FAQ section which explains the standard European symbols and classifications used to grade safety footwear.
In a hurry? This is our winner!
Best Safety Boots – Comparison Table
Best Safety Boots – Reviews
Best Safety Boots – Buyer’s Guide
To start with we’ll go through the different elements of a safety boot, and we’ll follow that up with some of the different types of protection that safety boots can offer, focusing on the more commonly required types of protection.
Reinforced Toe Caps
Safety boots always feature a reinforced toe cap. And although they’re frequently referred to as steel toe caps, they can be made from composite materials including very strong plastics or aluminium.
The soles of the shoes are composed of the outsole, which touches the ground, and the insoles on the inside. It is the outsole which enables you to grip your foot on the ground or surface. Outsoles are typically made from polyurethane, TPU or rubber.
When it comes to insoles, comfort becomes more important. Most insoles in safety shoes are made from leather or a non-woven material. They are designed to absorb moisture from sweat efficiently and then dry quickly.
Similarly, the lining of the boot needs to absorb moisture and dry quickly. This breathability of the lining is achieved by using materials such as cotton, wool or other thermoregulating materials.
The rest of the shoe is referred to as the upper. Most safety boots have smooth or nubuck leather uppers, which offer great protection against the elements and hazards. The remaining safety boots meanwhile, can have textile or synthetic uppers such as micro-velour, which make the boot more breathable.
Protection Against Falling Objects
Foot injury can be debilitating and can mean the difference between being able to work and not. And one of the most common causes of foot injury is the impact of something heavy landing on them.
Safety boots will protect against such impact, and they have a reinforced toe cap, as discussed earlier, which allows you to release your foot easily should they become trapped under something.
All protective toe caps in safety boots should be able to withstand a minimum of a 100 joule impact in a drop test.
Protection Against Slipping
Having appropriate outsoles on your safety boots is important for preventing slips. You need to select the right outsole for the environment you’re working in. This is important because not only does the ground have different surfaces in different areas, but some workers will be using them on ladders too. Some safety boots anti-slip capability is tested on ceramic flooring, while others are tested on a steel floor.
Protection Against Punctures and Cutting
A good outsole in your safety boot will project you from punctures caused by sharp objects such as broken glass or scrap metal.
In addition to that you need a good upper on your safety boot if you’re going to be using machinery designed to cut, such as logging machines or tools such as chainsaws, to prevent against nasty accidents.
Other Types of Protection
Depending on the working environment, you may also want to look into other forms of protection that safety boots can offer. There’s protection against electrocution, protection against burns, antistatic protection, water resistance, and insulation against cold.
If you specifically need a pair of safety boots that are waterproof, we would highly recommend that you go for our Number 2 pair of safety boots, the Black Hammer Mens Waterproof Safety Boots.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the standard European symbols and classifications used to grade safety footwear?
- SB – A toe cap capable of withstanding an impact up to 200 joules. This is the basic level for safety footwear.
- S1 – A toe cap capable of withstanding an impact up to 200 joules as well as a fully enclosed heel and anti-static properties within the sole.
- S2 – A toe cap capable of withstanding an impact up to 200 joules as well as a fully enclosed heel, anti-static properties and water resistant.
- S3 – The same as S2 plus penetration resistance and a cleated sole.
- S4 – 200 joule toe cap protection and all rubber or polymeric outsole and upper with anti-static properties and energy absorbing insole.
- S5 – The same as S4 plus penetration resistance and cleated outsole.
- SBP – A toe cap capable of withstanding an impact up to 200 joules and a penetration resistant midsole.
- S1P – The same as S1 but with an additional penetration resistant midsole.
- S2P – As with S2 but with an additional penetration resistant midsole.
- SRA – Safety footwear marked with this has been tested on ceramic flooring using a sodium lauryl solution (typical of all diluted commercial cleaning products).
- SRB – This means the shoes have been tested on a steel floor using glycerol (typical viscosity of food sauces and other viscous liquids)
- SRC – Safety footwear marked with this has been tested and conforms to both of the above.
Are rigger boots banned?
Although Rigger boots are not strictly legally banned in the UK, they may be prohibited on certain building sites and construction jobs. There are a number of reasons for this. First of all, they are a looser fit, and don’t feature as much ankle support. This in turn means that the wearer is less able to prevent the foot from twisting to the side on uneven ground, and hence they represent a higher risk of injury.
What are the most comfortable safety boots?
We’re going to level with you here. This is not an easy question to answer, and a lot of it comes down to personal preference.
Many people like boots that have breathability in the lining, so if that sounds like you, please check out our Number 2, the Black Hammer Mens Safety Boots.
Some people like boots with a fur lining, and if that’s what floats your boat, you should go for our Number 4, the Black Hammer Mens Leather Safety Boots.
Some people like boots with a lot of good ankle support, and if that’s more for you, we would highly recommend that you go for our Number 5, the Steel Toe Cap Combat Boots from Groundwork.