The History Of Safety Shoes

Footwear protection can be dated back to the beginning of the 20th century when industrial safety gear first became an issue. It used to be that replacing an injured worker cost much less than implementing safety measures in the workplace.

The first pair of protective footwear were called sabots; a shoe shaped from a single block of wood traditionally worn by French and Breton peasants. Sabots were created to protect workers from falling objects, sharp objects from working on the field and trampling from horses and cows. The word ‘Sabotage’ was created from workers throwing sabots into factory machinery to halt production during the industrial revolution.

The birth of the safety boot

During the 20th century when laws on compensation were implemented, liability costs forced large companies to focus on introducing equipment that improved safety measures in the workplace. Larger scale manufacturing of steel-toe boots started in the 1930s and the boots of German officers were also reinforced with steel toecaps.

In the year 1970, the US Congress implemented the Occupational Safety and Health Act, introducing new workplace safety standards. The standards included the use of safety footwear in workplaces that risked injury to the foot. Since then, safety footwear has become a mandatory requirement in many industries. Safety boots have progressively developed to reflect ongoing trends in fashion, and these days manufacturers use all sorts of composite materials to reinforce protection and comfort other than steel.

One of the main safety footwear breakthroughs that formed the essential part of personal protective equipment in the workplace is the introduction of the steel toe. The steel toe encases the front part of the shoe and protects the feet from major foot injuries which greatly diminished the chances of foot injuries happening in the workplace. The steel toe also increases the durability of the shoe and protects the feet from falling objects or sharp objects puncturing the shoe.

 

What It Means To ‘Protect Your Feet’

Protection from Heavy Falling Safety Shoes

A foot contains 26 bones, 38 joints, blood vessels, ligaments, muscles and nerves. It is a crucial part of the body and enables workers to do their jobs effectively. A foot injury should never be undermined and can decommission a worker for a long time. Hence it is imperative that all workplaces that run the risk of foot injuries implement protective footwear to protect their workers from the hazards. These hazards include:

  • Heavy falling objects
  • Sharp objects
  • Extreme heat and cold
  • Wet and slippery surfaces
  • Exposure to harmful chemicals

In terms of work-related foot injuries, there are two major categories.

  • The first category: Punctures, Crushing, Sprains, Lacerations. This accounts of 10% of all reported injuries.
  • The second category: Slipiping, Tripping, Falling. This accounts for 15% of all reported injuries.

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