I was often on extension ladders repairing gutters, shingles, and siding.
I’ve also spent time on rooftops installing and resealing skylights and exhaust vents.
Even indoors, at comparably low heights of 6-8 feet, I was on ladders installing and caulking crown moulding.
In all these instances, my primary concern was not something falling on me, but rather the idea that I would be the thing falling.
It was for those reasons that I wanted flexible footwear that allowed me to really feel my foot making contact with the ground.
I didn’t want a big toe cap preventing me from finding my footing.
There were plenty of times where my hands were full with whatever tools and supplies I needed for the job, and I couldn’t have my eyes on where I was stepping.
In these moments it was of paramount importance that I not be wearing boots that felt like bricks strapped to my feet, but rather boots that felt closer to the running or hiking shoes I wear in my non-work hours.
Soft toe boots lack a metal toe cap, so you’re safer from shock hazards.
Metal conducts electricity, so limiting the amount of metal in your boot will limit your chance of shock.
This is of primary importance to electricians and linemen for the power company.
Not limited to soft toe boots, you will find that boots marketed as ASTM EH (rated for protection against electrical hazard) sometimes advertise that the eyelets and shank are also made from non-metallic materials.
(Just painting a full picture so you know there are safety boots that also boast a metal-free construction)
This may seem like an abundance of caution, I understand, I’ve felt the same way.
I’ve also seen completely unexpected things happen with my work and for the electricians I’ve worked alongside.
Thankfully, I never saw any serious injuries.
They all laughed and said “that’s why I never trust my memory of turning the circuit off.”
Beyond those workers who know they’ll be handling electrical currents, there’s all the ones like myself who just encounter wires as a surprise from time to time.
I might not have thought of this at the time, but wearing soft toe footwear was a big plus in those moments.
Being a contractor requires you to use your body and feet in a number of ways.
In many cases, you’re tearing apart and walking into the skeleton of the house.
There are countless times that I demolished some drywall and realized there was an exposed wire poking through the studs or their footer plate.
I could write for several thousand words about all the times I saw electricity I wouldn’t have expected.
Suffice it to say, I saw enough to know I didn’t want to lead with a big hunk of metal strapped to my foot.
I understand that many people who work with electricity are also required to get boots that meet OSHA standards for a safety toe.
If this is you, soft toe boots are definitely the wrong call, and you’d be better served with a composite toe boot that is OSHA approved.
A major part of being safe on the worksite is predicting all the things unlikely to happen and getting yourself suited up as though it will absolutely happen tomorrow.
If you put together all the little things that can make you marginally safer (gloves, safety glasses, ear protection etc…) you will have made your work notably safer in the long term.
Soft toe boots are generally more comfortable than comparable safety boots. This can be for a number of reasons.
First, the lack of the toe cap allows more room for your toes to move.
The designers don’t need to worry about how to fit a toe cap into the boot, so they can just worry about your foot.
This isn’t only about comfort, it’s about your health as well.