Admittedly, electrical work is not very hard on the feet. Most of the time, you’re either kneeling down, laying in a crawlspace or squatting in the attic. When you are standing, it’s usually to address a client. On a good day, the client will defer to your expertise. On a bad day, you’ll get a client who thinks they know more about electrical work than you do and you will just want to shove your boot straight up their…never mind. That’s unprofessional so you can’t do that.
But, it’s not exactly something you can do barefoot either. The last thing you want is to step on a live wire with poorly insulated shoes. Many large companies require their electrical workers to wear steel toe boots, but most freelance electricians would rather not. A cap toe is preferable as the toes can wear out quickly from constant kneeling. What are some other things an electrician should look for in a boot?
Electric Boots, A Mohair Suit….
Ha-ha…no. The “electric boots” Bernie Taupin wrote about in his satirical song about the Seventies musical industry were just flashy looking. Real electric boots are made with safety in mind. Not only do electricians have to protect their feet from punctures, crushing, cutting, slips, trips and falls but electrical hazards as well.
In order to lower the chances of an electrical accident, non-conductive footwear constructed from rubber, leather or other materials that do not conduct electricity should be worn.
In places where the build-up of static on the body constitutes a hazard, anti-static or conductive footwear could be utilized. These selections lower the amount of static that builds upon the body, keeping static electric sparks from happening.
Safety footwear generally comes in three classifications from a standpoint of electrical. They all have their own purposes.
- Non-Conductive Footwear This kind of footwear is generally classified with an “EH” rating. This safety standard is created to offer a backup source of protection when the boot accidentally comes into contact with live electrical circuits in order to lower the risk of electric shock.
- Anti-Static Footwear Boots that have this classification are made for workers who operate in environments sensitive to static electricity. Anti-static footwear aids in dissipating the accumulation of static electricity from the body. These boots are usually identified by ESD or SD tags.
- Conductive Footwear Conductive footwear aids in protecting the wearer in an environment where the build-up of static electricity on the body can prove to be a hazard. As they’re made with materials and cement that provide no electrical resistance it’s important to remember that these boots provide little to no protection whether from live charges or electrical equipment.
Here are five of the most highly reviewed boots considered most suitable for electricians. Find out which one works best for you:
1. Thorogood Men’s Composite Toe Gen Flex 804-4445 6-Inch Work Boot
These boots are for the go-to guy who can always be depended on whether at work, home and play. A dependable man needs dependable boots. Thorogood leads the way in these slip-resistant, lightweight, and comfortable boots so that you can too. Their composite safety-toe boots are up for anything so you can take on those everyday challenges with confidence.
Features and Benefits
The composite safety toe caps offer the kind of protection similar to steel, but are non-metallic, corrosion resistant, transmit less cold and do not weigh as much. They are constructed with electric shock-resisting soles and heels with the capability of withstanding an application of 18,000 volts (root mean square (RMS) value) at 60 Hertz for one minute showing no current flow or leakage in excess of 1.0 milliamperes under dry conditions.
These styles are one hundred percent non-metallic using composite toes and non-metallic hardware such as in the eyelets. Such features will aid in minimizing the risk of marking or scratching work surfaces and should not set off any security screening devices.
These boots are tested for ASTM F2913-11 SATRA Test Method TM144 (or Mark II) industry standards for slip-resistant footwear. The boots are fabricated from lightweight materials and the overall construction is formulated specially with the comfort of the foot in mind.
- The boots not only look good; they are extremely comfortable.
- They are electrical hazard rated.
- The polyurethane footbed is removable.
- They come with special EVA cushion flex.
- The lining wicks away moisture.
- The removable insert absorbs shock.
- They are not very suitable for any rigorous outdoor activity.
- They do not seem very durable.
- They are not waterproof but can be made so with a waterproofing product.
2. Irish Setter Men’s 6″ 83605 Work Boot
Here’s something for someone looking for boots that are affordable, stylish and durable all in the same package. This pair of six-inch boots are not only stylish but suitable for casual, everyday wearing. The lovely signature wheat color Nubuck Leather signifies that you can make use of it for casual wear.
You can even wear them to semi-formal events or special occasions and you would not look out of place. Stylish as they are, they were designed with comfort, support, and protection in mind. The boots are six inches tall and make for a wonderful set of heavy-duty work boots.
The solid rubber outsole sees to it that these slip and oil resistant boots have adequate traction even on the slickest and smoothest of surfaces. They will remain comfortable even after hours of wear.
Features and Benefits
The padded collar on these work boots offers you great comfort whether you are standing or walking. They are manufactured with premium full grain Nubuck Leather in order to make them easy to clean and maintain not to mention be highly resistant to wear and tear.
The seam-seal construction ensures comfort that lasts all day and is good and waterproof. The rubber outsole makes for slip and oil resistance plus it enhances friction and grips the ground. The sole padding is sturdy and comfortable. The nylon laces are very secure.
- The boot is both very comfortable and durable.
- The design is very stylish. It is resistant to shock, slips, chemicals, abrasions, and heat.
- The polyurethane footbed molds easily to the foot.
- The boots are waterproof.
- It has a composite safety toe.
- They are puncture-resistant and have an EVA midsole.
- The toe is not sufficiently protected.
- The boots are nice but hard to keep clean.
- The insulation is slipshod.
3. Timberland PRO® Men’s Boondock Waterproof Work Boot
Anti-Fatigue Technology, rugged weather-ready outsoles, and waterproof protection make the Timberland PRO Boondock work boots the number one accompaniment for anybody who works long hours. They are revered for their comfort and weather-defying performance.
The Boondocks has become an example of Timberland PRO’s most trustworthy work boots. Timberland set new industry standards for craftsmanship, durability, and protection when it introduced an authentic, waterproof leather boot in 1973.
A global leader in the design, engineering, and marketing of premium footwear, Timberland values consumers who cherish the outdoors and their time in it. Timberland has been a leader of industry in the utilization of both sustainable and recycled materials in their shoes and packaging as well.
The Timberland Company espouses a deep corporate responsibility and supports a plethora of civic and social projects all through the year.
Features and Benefits
The TPU outsole has deep lugs to provide traction and is resistant to both oil and abrasion. The molded rubber toe protectors are there for abrasion-resistant performance. The anti-fatigue technology is a comfort system that is designed with both shock-absorbing, geometrical technology in mind in order to return energy back to the foot and deliver all-day support and comfort. The all-weather outsoles perform very well even in cold weather
- The boots are rugged and hardy, able to withstand harsh environments.
- The details are all made with superior functionality in mind.
- They are EH standard compliant, waterproof, and have good traction all for making a safe boot.
- You may find them relatively affordable.
- The composite safety toe is lighter than steel.
- The footbed is anti-fatigue.
- They are resistant to slips and oil.
- They are not as comfortable as they could be.
- They are a bit heavy.
- There is a significant break-in period.
- The style choices are limited.
4. Carhartt Men’s CMF6366 6 Inch Composite Toe Boot
Founded in 1889, Carhartt has created first-rate workwear known for stupendous durability. It is this very quality and standards that are invested in their diligent footwear productions. It does not matter if you need protection for your toes or better comfort for your feet. Carhartt’s got this!
Their rugged boots are available in safety-toe and non-safety toe to better support your foot no matter the conditions at work. These boots also come in a broad range of styles and materials to better support both your arches and your wishes.
The Composite Toe Boots from Carhartt protect your toes from harm without compromising on either flexible comfort or support. They know that a work boot is an investment and that you want your investment to be long-lasting.
Features and Benefits
The abrasion-resistant heel bumpers offer long term wear for those places where you need it the most. Carhartt’s patented Rugged Flex technology moves and stretches with you all through the day. Shock-absorbing traction sees to it that your feet are supported and protected.
The Carhartt Rugged Flex outsole is good for a durable long-lasting men’s boot. Full-grain leather provides water resistance and ensures safe and protected ankles in any given situation. These boots are oil-resistant, slip-resistant and chemical resistant.
- The EVA midsole with PU strobe pad plus the PU OrthoLite insole gives you five layers of cushioning.
- The shock-absorbing rubber outsole has a cement construction for durability.
- The rubber outsole is resistant to slips, oils, and chemicals. It fulfills ASTM 2413-11 standards.
- It is EH rated.
- It also has ladder safety channels.
- The composite toe is safe and comfortable.
- They run a little on the wide side and are a bit clunky.
- They are water-resistant rather than waterproof so you may want to invest in a waterproofing product.
- The safety toes have no covering.
5. KEEN Utility Men’s Milwaukee 6″ Steel Toe Work Boot
When people think Pittsburgh they think of steel, toughness, and an unshakable tenacity. All of this could easily describe the eponymous work boot from Keen. It is more than simply footwear. It is the implement you need to get the job done right.
With an extensive list of technology and features, this boot wards off that tired feeling and saves your energy so you’ve got some get up and go even at the end of a tough day. Keen has meticulously chosen leather uppers designed to last. Always remember that when you are wearing your KEENs every day, they may not be forever scuff and dirt-free.
To treat regular wear and tear, particularly on lighter color leathers, it is recommended that you use a leather cleaner and conditioner that can be found at most footwear dealers and/or shoe repair shops. They come with reflective webbing for added safety.
Features and Benefits
KEEN Utility boots come with asymmetrical toe protection specifically built to fit your left and right foot, protecting from the great toe to the pinky toe. The extra-large toe box lets your toes breathe and spread out just as their supposed to.
The internal support mechanism is anatomically designed to offer ideal arch support and cradle and support the natural curves of the foot. The supremely natural, snug fit in the heel and the most spacious, intuitive toe box makes for a unique and useful work shoe. The waterproof, permeable membrane allows vapor to get out without letting water in.
- The boot is comfortable and breaks in easily.
- It conforms quickly to your feet.
- The steel toe is protective.
- This is a very durable boot that can withstand many different conditions.
- The boot is somewhat on the heavy side.
How to Find the Best Boots for Electrical Work
It is indeed evident that the first step in protecting yourself in electric or volatile environments begins with educating yourself on what you most need to be protected from. Are there live wires you might step on? Might you have to make your way through muddy or wet surfaces?
Are you working with heavy tools? (Don’t assume you’ll never drop one. Accidents happen to everyone.) Will your environment be very hot or very cold? How often will you kneel, stand or walk up ladders?
From this point, you can see that it will be the comfort and performance features that the boots come with that will set them apart from all the others. Here are some elementary tips to keep in mind when you purchase your next pair of work boots:
- Do all the research first. Find out what is required for your work environment and what personal needs you yourself may have. If you work for someone who has to answer to OSHA, it’s likely to be their way or the highway. If you freelance, you have the freedom to choose what footwear you’ll have but do use some common sense so you can be able to work.
- Shop for boots in the afternoon or early evening. This is good advice for buying any sort of footwear, even casual, everyday shoes. Of course, it pertains to buying from a brick-and-mortar store where you can try it on first. Feet have a tendency to swell during the day, particularly for those who work while standing up. By trying out shoes when your feet are at their biggest, your work boots will always feel comfortable on even the longest days.
- Come prepared. Bring with you a pair of well-padded socks that you might typically wear to better get a feel for how your boots might fit. Work boots might feel different on feet with cotton socks rather than wool socks. Wear the socks you would generally wear in the job when trying a boot out for size.
- Do not be neglectful about comfort. Today’s brands incorporate many comfort features to pair with their performance and protection enhancements. These include Ortholite insoles; lighter and more asymmetrical steel-toes; extra padding; and other innovative comfort features. They all go into constructing a pair of boots that will feel just as comfortable at the end of a long workday as they did when you first put them on.
- Remember to do your “homework.” Taking long term care of your footwear will give your boots a longer life. Treat the leather with mink oil or other professionally recommended leather treatments in order to keep the materials supple and resistant to moisture. Keep your boots in a clean, dry place in order to reduce foul odors and preserve the leather quality.
About the Steel Toes
Many workers find steel-toed boots uncomfortable, though they may be required. While comfort is an important issue, let us address some other practical concerns particularly pertaining to safety.
- What if the steel toe touches an electrical source? You’re safe! The sole is still going to protect you because it is the construction of the sole is what insulates the shoe and you the wearer from being grounded. No grounding, no shock.
- What if I am kneeling down and the steel toe is touching the ground and I come in contact with a live electrical source? While indeed grounding will take place, the electric current will be grounded through your knee, which is touching the ground.
- What if the leather covering the steel toe should become exposed? Don’t worry about a thing! The sole and its construction are still insulating your foot and will keep them from being grounded.
Always keep in mind that electrical hazard shoes are meant only as a secondary means of protection from high voltage environments. The primary source of protection is between your ears.
Myths and Facts About Boot Care
Let’s clear up a few misconceptions people have about taking care of their leather boots:
Myth: Shaving cream is great for cleaning and conditioning leather.
Fact: Canned shaving cream contains chemicals that dry out the leather, leaving a waxy, gummy coating. Fans of the Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen have to take the number “To Break in a Glove” as a metaphor for using patience in raising a child rather than legitimate leather care advice.
The truth is, stearic acid is waxy and is only good for softening hair. Even people who just use it for shaving need to rinse well to keep away the waxy residue. And then there’s the Laereth-23 used as a binder agent. That can really dry out leather.
Myth: Brand new boots are coated at the factory with a finish that you must strip off before polishing.
Fact: While new boots may be sprayed with a light misting of silicone to keep them looking clean and neat during shipment, it isn’t hard enough to flake or peel. Whoever came up with this myth was thinking about apples, which are usually coated with a sort of wax to make them shinier.
While it’s a good idea for this reason to run an apple under a tap before eating, the factory finish on boots is harmless. True, it can keep the polish from adhering properly. The factory finish will start to fade after a few wears, then you can polish as usual.
Myth: Heating up a boot will make the pores open so that oil can soak in better
Fact: Excessive heat can dry up and even destroy the leather. Pores are tiny openings in the skin. Any skincare advice you may have heard assumes the owner of the skin is still alive. Leather is from an animal that is no more, ceased to be, expired and gone to meet his maker, bereft of life, pushing up daisies, kicked the bucket, shuffled off his mortal coil and joined the choir invisible. This came from an ex-cow. (Bull, horse, snake, ostrich, whatever.)
Myth: Work boots worn around electrical risks should not have any metal in them.
Fact: Metal only conducts electricity when it comes into contact with another metal. As the steel safety toe in the boot is surrounded by leather, rubber and many other forms of insulation it should prove very safe. The truth is, before composite toes were placed in EH shoes, all safety toes were made from steel. Today, steel is more of a comfort and safety issue rather than preventing electric shock.
Frequently Asked Questions
Any good consumer will ask questions about a product before purchase. Here are some you might have regarding electrical hazard boots:
What makes electrical hazard boots EH certified?
There is a particular criteria to meet before a pair of boots can be certified as an Electrical Hazard. OSHA requires that before a boot can get that EH label it has to be able to withstand 18,000 volts of electricity at 60 hertz for an entire minute without any leakage of more than one milliampere in dry conditions.
This must be in conjunction with other protective gear. There are two sections currently (no pun intended) recognized by the American Society for Testing and Materials that are utilized to make sure that Electrical Hazard boots satisfy the proper standards. That would be the ASTM F2412-11, Standard Specification for Performance Requirements and the ASTM F 2413-11, Performance Requirements for Protective (Safety) Toe Cap Footwear.
These stringent requirements ensure a boot that will safely protect the foot from nearly any possible injury. Do keep in mind that EH boots are strongly suggested for use in dry areas where static dissipation boots and conductive boots are mostly used in places where there may be a risk of a fire or an explosion.
What could compromise the effectiveness of electrical hazard boots?
It is an unfortunate truth that these boots can be affected by particular factors that could endanger their ability to keep the wearer safe. The excessive wearing of the soles or exposing these boots to wet or humid conditions can lower the effectiveness of these shoes.
Another component that can lessen their chances of protectiveness is contamination with conductive elements. When the soles of the boots accumulate small bits of metal or metal shavings, they may become less efficient.
Should I get a six-inch or eight-inch shaft?
That is a matter of personal preference. If you need a little extra ankle support, go for the eight-inch. Unless you are unusually tall, that should sufficiently cover your ankles. They are also useful for working in wet or muddy conditions.
However, six-inch boots are easier to put on and take off. Six-inch boots are also lighter. (You’d be surprised what a difference those two inches can make.) Weigh the pros and cons against your own needs to see which is better.
Should my boots be waterproof?
This is a definite plus in any boot. Even if you work indoors, you have to go out sometime if only to pick up something from the truck. It’s not always sunny out so be prepared. Even if your boots are marked by their manufacturer as “waterproof” it is still recommended that you use a good waterproofing product every few months or so. Do not forget to keep them clean and maintained. This will see that they stay waterproof.
What are the most important factors to consider when purchasing an electrical hazard work boot?
You will need to look for durability, protection, comfort, and convenience. You are paying good money for these boots so it only makes sense for them to be sturdy. Get shoes that last a long time so you are not always replacing them. You need to be protected from electric shocks, heat and slipping.
Therefore, your electrical hazard shoes should be reliable and have the ability to face any of the hazards of the job that are rather common in the daily job of an electrician.
And of course, you don’t want shoes that bite at your feet or make you itchy. A good quality pair of electrician’s boots will put you in good spirits while you are working and allow you to improve your concentration on your job so you can get everything right the first time.
What boot is best for electricians in the automotive sector?
Let’s face it, sometimes vehicles get parked in puddles. For a little extra protection, it would be best to wear EH polymeric rain boots that have electrical resistance. Many workers in this sector prefer to use simple leather shoes that have an EH marking plus an outsole with electrical isolation. In any case, it is crucial to always keep in mind that the best protection can be found in polymeric rain boots or overshoes.
What boot is best for electricians working at energy installations?
Typically, such installations are located in open areas, so anyone who works in this field is frequently exposed to all different sorts of weather conditions. A good pair of waterproof safety shoes or overshoes with EH electrical isolation will protect the wearer from excess moisture. A rubber sole is also recommended.
Can steel toes ever be dangerous?
The only way that a steel toe could be dangerous is if the person wearing them stands perfectly en pointe, which would bring the steel toe into contact with the floor. This is hard enough to achieve in toe shoes meant for ballet. Even Michael Jackson would be hard-pressed to get right on the toes in work boots.
If the wearer of the boots is kneeling, the steel toes may be in contact with the floor; but the knee is touching as well. An accidental, electrocuting circuit would most likely go through the knees into the ground as this would be the path of least resistance for the electrical circuit. If it was possible to be electrocuted in steel-toed boots, they would not be made.
Even though electricians don’t put their feet through much punishment, good footwear should never be overlooked. Electrical work is largely done indoors, but waterproofing is always a good idea. Above all, they should be certified EH boots. Look for that label!