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Signs you Should Replace your Construction Work Boots

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The importance of wearing proper work boots on a construction site cannot be overstated. Work boots keep the worker safe, comfortable, and help in job performance. 

Thus, it is critical to be mindful of signs that it is time to replace construction work boots.

In looking for signs that construction boots should be replaced, look for “wear out on the sole of the shoe, usually the outside aspect of the heels or there is a wear out pattern on the ball of the shoe. Both places indicate that the boot needs to be replaced,” says Elizabeth Scheiber, DPM, Cleveland Clinic Weston (Florida) Hospital Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Section of Podiatry.

Dr. Scheiber notes that the negative effects of not replacing boots soon enough can include arch pain or heel pain, stress reaction of the foot - pre-stress fracture, tendonitis and sometimes even fungus toenails or ingrown toenails. 

Signs to Consider

According to information from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), signs that it is time to get a new pair of work boots also include:

  • Separating soles that increase the risk of trips. Sole separation can lead to instability and potential injuries. Worn-out insoles affect support, foot comfort and can decrease shock absorption
  • Torn insulation, which can introduce moisture
  • Tears, holes or cracks that can reduce electrical resistance
  • External damage that increases puncture risk
  • Internal damage, which weakens the toe caps

The CDC notes that the loss of waterproofing as a result of worn out boots can lead to injuries and other health consequences to the worker whose feet are wet for prolonged periods as water inside a boot can lead to discomfort, blisters, and potential foot infections. Water inside the boot can also reduce the effectiveness of the temperature or electrical hazard insulation, thus compromising the worker’s safety.

Footwear required for certain hazards – such as electrical, hazardous materials or chemical resistance – should be inspected by the user prior to each use, according to North Carolina State University information. Damage or deterioration on the upper part of a boot can compromise its ability to provide hazard protection.

Work Performance and Health

In a post for the website of the Orthopedic and Spine Center in Newport News, Virginia, ‘Ten Signs It is Time to Replace Your Everyday Work Shoes, Based on Science,” Dr. Robert J. Snyder, M.D. notes that among those factors, decreased cushioning can lead to reduced shock absorption and cause foot discomfort and impact on lower limb mechanics.

Pain or discomfort in a worker’s feet, ankles, knees or hips while wearing work shoes may indicate a sign that they no longer provide adequate support and can lead to foot pain and various musculoskeletal issues, he points out. Dr. Snyder notes odor and hygiene issues can indicate the presence of bacteria and fungi, which can contribute to foot infections and other health problems.

Pronation (the inward rolling of the foot) or supination (the outward rolling of the foot) beyond normal ranges can indicate improper shoe support or wear, he says, adding an abnormal gait pattern may mean it’s time to consult a podiatrist or footwear expert to determine if the shoes need replacement. Dr. Scheiber notes that she prefers workers choose a work boot with a heel “as a very flat boot can lead to problems in the feet. If the shoe is a lace boot, the wearer should ensure the eyelets are intact in order to hold the foot firmly in place.”

There are actions a worker can take to help extend the lifecycle of a work boot, says Dr. Scheiber.

“It is important to inspect construction boots to make sure there is no debris inside the boot, no loose stitching inside the boot and the inner lining is not bunched up,” she adds. “It is important to make sure the inside of the boot is not damp. I usually recommend spraying with antifungal foot powder spray at end of work day.” 

Looking for a new pair of work boots? Check out an in-depth review of the Irish Setter Hopkins Waterproof Leather Boots!

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