When Do you Need to Replace Safety Footwear?

Worn out safety boots

We’ve all had that pair of shoes that we kept long after they should have been tossed in the garbage, but what about safety footwear? When do you need to replace it? It turns out there’s no magic formula – no best before date on the shoes, but there are some signs that it’s time to retire your old shoes.

Wear and Tear

Can you see the steel toe shining through? Is the heel plate rubbed bare? Is your metatarsal guard showing? If you can answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions, it’s time for a new pair. The same goes for the tread on the bottom – if it’s worn down significantly or rubbed smooth, it isn’t doing its job anymore. Think of it like the tread on your tires – you don’t want to be driving on bald tires, so why walk in shoes that don’t have traction anymore? Another thing to check is the places where materials meet – if the rubber or pvc is separating from the leather, it’s time for a new pair.

Function

Saftey footwear is exactly what it says it is – footwear worn to protect your feet from injury and to protect you from slipping and falling. If there’s a chance that your footwear can no longer perform that function, you need to get a new pair.

Mileage and Comfort

This is a bit trickier – and depends on how much walking and standing you do, but if your feet are hurting you should be thinking about replacing either your insole, or if that doesn’t work, your safety shoe. There’s no set mileage for when to replace your safety footwear, but shoes and boots start to show wear and tear somewhere around the 1500 km mark under average usage – which is about one year of daily wear.

Damage

This one is really simple – if something falls onto your safety footwear, it needs to be replaced. With steel toed boots, this is fairly easy to see because the steel dents inwards; however with composite materials, the structural integrity can be damaged without any outward signs so it’s recommended that safety footwear be replaced after a puncture or if something lands on it.

While there isn’t a best before date on safety footwear, there are several signs such as physical wear and tear, comfort, and damage that will help you decide when it’s time to pick up a new pair of safety shoes.

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How do I make sure to get the right size?

To measure your feet:

  1. Get a blank piece of paper, a pencil and a tape measure.
  2. Stand with one foot on the piece of paper, and have most of your weight on your foot to simulate walking.
  3. Holding the pencil perfectly vertical and perpendicular to the paper, mark a line at the back of your heel and at the tip of your longest toe. Also mark a line along each side of the widest part of your foot.
  4. Measure length and width to the nearest 16th inch and subtract .20 to .25 inches, or .50 centimetres, to account for the width of the pencil.
  5. Find your corresponding size in the charts below.

A couple of tips to get the perfect fit:

  • Measure your feet later in the day as feet normally swell and can become up to half a size bigger in the evening.
  • Measure both feet and use the measurements of the biggest foot. Many people have feet that are different sizes.
  • Wear the same type of socks you will generally be wearing on the job when you measure your feet.

Here are some general guidelines to assess fit once you’ve received your new boots:

  • Try on new boots towards the end of the day.
  • Walk around in a clean environment for a couple of hours to make sure the boots are comfortable.
  • Try boots on both feet, as many people have feet that are different sizes.
  • Boots should fit snugly around the heel and ankle when laced.
  • The inner side of the boot should be straight from the heel to the end of the big toe.
  • The boot should grip the heel firmly.

Measuring apparel for proper fit

Size X-Small Small Medium Large X-Large 2X-Large 3X-Large
Neck - Inches 13-13.5 14-14.5 15-15.5 16-16.5 17-17.5 18-18.5 19-19.5
Neck - Centimetres 33-35 36-37 38-39 41-42 43-44 45-47 48-50
Chest - Inches 30-32 34-36 38-40 42-44 46-48 50-52 54-56
Chest - Centimetres 76-81 86-91 97-102 107-112 117-122 127-132 137-147
Waist - Inches 27-28 29-31 32-34 36-38 40-42 44-46 48-50
Waist - Centimetres 68-71 73-78 81-83 91-96 101-106 111-116 121-127

Hint: For the most accurate results, measure yourself in your undergarments.

  • Neck: Measure around the base of your neck, inserting your forefinger between the tape and your neck to allow ease in fit.
  • Chest: Measure around the fullest part of your chest, keeping tape firmly under your armpits and around your shoulder blades.
  • Waist: Measure around your waist, slightly below your natural waist, where you normally wear your pants. Insert your forefinger between the tape and your body to allow ease in fit.
  • Sleeve length: Bend your arm slightly. Measure from centre back neck, across your shoulder, down to your elbow, down to your wrist.
  • Hip: Measure around the fullest part of your hips, inserting your forefinger between the tape and your hip to allow ease in fit.
  • Inseam: Measure a similar pant that fits you well. Measure along the inseam, from the crotch seam to the bottom of the hem.

Between sizes?

If your measurements are in between those listed in the size chart, pick the next larger size.