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Guide to Buying Safety Footwear

Workers should be able to wear the footwear that is appropriate to their occupation, working environment, and feet. That means employers should ensure that the risk assessment they have to do by law includes risks to the feet as well as slipping risks, and if safety or special footwear is required they must supply it at no cost to the worker. Wherever special footwear is provided the employer must make sure that it fits properly and should allow the toes wiggle room (around 1cm gap between the longest toe and the end of the shoe). There should also be a choice of shoes and worker representatives should be involved in choosing which ones are offered. This will help ensure that workers wear them.Even if safety footwear is not required then the employer should give advice on appropriate footwear. Comfortable, properly fitted footwear is essential to maintaining good foot health. Many minor foot ailments can be relieved with properly fitted and carefully selected shoes. The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists gives the following advice on choosing footwear: 

Even if safety footwear is not required then the employer should give advice on appropriate footwear. Comfortable, properly fitted footwear is essential to maintaining good foot health. Many minor foot ailments can be relieved with properly fitted and carefully selected shoes. The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists gives the following advice on choosing footwear: 

Tips on getting the right fit 

  • Always have both feet measured because they may not be the same size. 
  • When choosing shoes, the length, width and depth of the shoes are important. 
  • Always try on both shoes. 
  • Ensure there is enough room at the front of the shoes to allow for the natural movement of your toes when walking – your toes should be able to wiggle. 
  • Make sure there is around 1cm space between your longest toe and the end of the shoe. 
  • When choosing new shoes, take time to test them out, and walk around to ensure maximum comfort. 
  • Don’t break in new shoes. Shoes that fit well should feel comfortable. As you get older, your feet tend to get larger, so get them measured periodically.

A good fit doesn’t necessarily mean high expense. Safety shoes also need to be comfortable and correctly fitted. There is a misconception that safety shoes, especially protective toecaps, will be uncomfortable, but if the shoes are padded and fitted correctly you should not be able to feel the toecaps at all.

This information is supplied by the TUC and HSE.

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