Do You Need New Work Shoes?
While you may choose your everyday shoes based on style, color, or how great they look with your new outfit, work shoes are a different story. When you are choosing a pair of work shoes, you have to think about more than just looks. You need to think about the kind of support your work shoes will provide on long shifts, if they have the safety features you need to protect your feet, and if they are going to cause any pain or problems down the road. Work shoes, and especially safety work shoes, are your feet’s line of defense against work related injuries. That’s why it’s so important to replace your work shoes regularly and keep them in great shape. How do you know when it’s time to replace your work shoes? Read on to find out!
Your Back Hurts
If you work anywhere that you are on your feet all day long, you probably aren’t rocking a pair of flip flops. Even if you are wearing shoes that appear to be good for the job, if they don’t have adequate cushioning in the midsole and insole you might experience back pain. When your shoes don’t have enough cushion, your feet absorb the maximum impact of walking or climbing and that can lead to not just foot problems but back pain. The midsole is especially important for absorbing shock and providing support and many are made of EVA or polyurethane foam—both of which are dense, hard foams that are great at shock absorption. The insole of your shoe sits on top of the midsole and helps keep your foot in the correct position and can provide arch support and cushioning. If your back is chronically hurting you might want to examine whether your shoes are exacerbating the problem. Shoes that are too flat can cause pain not just to the back, but to the ankles, knees, arches, and heels. Work shoes that once felt great can become problematic if the midsole or insole get too worn and are no longer good at absorbing shock and impact.
Your Tread is Gone
A great safety feature of many work shoes and boots is the rugged tread on the soles that helps you stay stable even on slippery surfaces. Frequent wear causes this tread to become worn, and just like bald tires on your car can leave you trying to find your footing or slipping on the work floor. Check your shoes periodically for signs of wear—especially if they are wearing unevenly around the ball of the foot or just one side of the heel. Do your shoes feel smooth to the touch, or do they still have the original depth of tread that provides that great traction? If the tread is wearing down you should definitely replace your shoes as they become a safety hazard when they no longer provide traction on slippery surfaces. When you examine your tread also look for any signs of cracking or missing pieces of sole. All of these indicate that your shoes are past their prime and need to be replaced.
You Have Foot Fatigue
If you work on a hard surface all day long your feet get put under a lot of pressure and stress. Anything that can come between your feet and the hard ground can help to alleviate that pressure and give your feet the relief they need. Anti-fatigue technology in work safety shoes can help to absorb shock and return energy for all day comfort. The anti-fatigue advances of today allow for shoes with anti-fatigue technology to use little material making for a lightweight and flexible safety shoe. If your feet are aching at the end of your shift you may need to examine whether your work shoes are providing enough anti-fatigue support.
They Have Gone Too Many Miles
Shoes don’t have an infinite lifespan, and if you only wear one pair of work shoes in your rotation they will wear out a lot faster. Many factors go into determining how quickly your work shoes will wear out, but an estimate is that shoes last for approximately 300 to 500 miles. Many people who are on their feet all day long easily clock in 5 miles a day walking around a warehouse or factory. That would only give you 100 work days until those shoes are worn out! Generally speaking, if you see signs of excessive wear and you have had your work shoes for over 6 months it is time to consider replacing them.
You Changed Jobs
Have you recently changed jobs and are now working in an environment that is very different? You should reassess your shoes! Especially if you have moved to a workplace that involves live electrical circuits, slippery surfaces, or the risk of falling objects, your shoes need to be up to the task. Your new job may have safety considerations that you haven’t had to deal with previously, or may require that your shoes be non-metallic to pass through a metal detector. If you change jobs, think about changing your shoes! Having the right shoes for the job can make a huge difference in your safety, comfort, and how your feet feel at the end of the day!
Your Steel is Showing
Do you wear steel toed boots or shoes, or have a steel shank or metatarsal guard? All of these safety features are great for protecting your feet from impact and damage, but if the steel is beginning to show through it is a sure sign that they need to be replaced. Not only does a hint of steel mean that your shoes are wearing out, but it can also pose a danger of getting snagged on something or hurting someone else. The steel of the met guard, toe, or shank is designed to be encased in the outer layer of the shoe, so if it is showing it is time for a new pair.
Your Shoes are Worn
Along with the steel showing, if you notice other visible signs of wear on your work shoes it is time to start shopping for a new pair. If there is any separation between the shoe and the sole it is only going to get worse and poses a risk of tripping. Damage or cracking to the shoe’s upper can compromise the protective nature of the shoe and leave your foot open for damage. The insulation can become packed down and worn out, meaning that your shoes no longer keep you as warm as they should. Any damage to the eyelets or hooks can make the lacing uneven and your shoes may not fit properly. If you are noticing visible signs of wear it is time to look for a new pair of work shoes.
Your Shoes Have Been in an Accident
Your safety work shoes are designed to protect you from injury, but what happens after you have been in a workplace accident? If you wear steel toed shoes that have been dented as a result of an impact, the shoe will not return to its original shape and should be replaced. Even if you have composite toe caps that have held their shape, if you have had a severe impact to the toe area of your shoe you should replace them because the safety integrity has been compromised. You want your shoes to perform as they were originally intended any time they are in an accident.
Your Feet are Getting Wet
If your job demands you work in wet environments, waterproof footwear is a must. But what happens when your waterproof shoes begin to wear out? Your feet get wet and can lead to discomfort, pain, blisters, and even foot infections! If you wear rubber or PVC boots that have any separation of the outsole or toe cover you should replace them immediately. If you are noticing that your socks are wet or damp when you remove your shoes you should test whether your shoes are starting to lose their waterproofing. If so, invest in a new pair, and consider getting boots with a taller height to keep more of your foot protected, warm, and dry.
Are you realizing that your work shoes are not performing like they should be? Don’t despair! Intermountain Safety Shoe Store in Golden and Colorado Springs have a huge selection of safety shoes and boots that can keep your feet protected and comfortable even at the most demanding job sites. Safety footwear only works if it is in good condition, so keep your boots maintained and replace them when they start to wear out. Check out our safety boots and shoes today!