Puncture resistant boots, steel vs. fabric midsoles

Safety footwear and its protective grade is best chosen after evaluation (risk assessment) of the potential dangers in the work environment. The footwear should always be used as a last resort, it is the final line of defense against hazards, after all other reasonable or practical measures have been taken to manage the risks of the workplace. Impact, compression and puncture are the most common types of foot injury.

Common dangers are related to the kind of materials that are handled by the worker, risks of objects falling on or rolling over the feet or sharp objects that could penetrate the outsole of the shoe.

Below we are going a little deeper into puncture resistant boots and the differences between steel midsoles and woven fabric midsoles in puncture resistant boots.

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Puncture resistant boots

Steel vs. woven fabric midsoles

Puncture flesh wounds are particularly awful because screws, spikes, sharp scrap metal or the famous rusty nail puncturing the foot, can deposit bacteria and debris deep into the body, leading to dangerous infections and/or permanent foot damage.

The protective midsoles are embedded during the manufacturing process, between the insole and outsole of the puncture resistant boots. The standard specifies that the protective midsole of puncture resistant boots cannot be removed without damaging or destroying the boot. 2 main materials are used for protective midsoles: steel and Aramid (woven fabrics with high tenacity; eg. Kevlar by Dupont, Twaron by Akzo)

When puncture resistant boots have a woven fabrics midsole, they are most likely to have a composite toe cap too to create a metal-free, lightweight work boot. A crucial element on sites where metal detectors are used as employees enter and leave, for example high-security environments, such as airports, governmental buildings and military bases, where the scanning aims to prevent weapons from making their way in.

We made a list with all the differences you should know about a steel or woven fabric midsole in your search for the puncture resistant boot that suits your work.

Steel midsoles

Made from coated steel or stainless steel

More economic compared to textile/Aramid materials

Thinner than textile/Aramid midsoles

Embedded in the outsole construction, not visible when taking out the comfort insole

Conducting cold, heat and electricity

Recommended for protection against very sharp and tiny objects

Less flexible than textile midsoles, due to the characteristics of metal

Not protecting the full bottom surface of the footwear, few mm stay unprotected at the sides

Subject to corrosion after a period of time, when made in coated carbon steel, especially at the flexline area

Woven fabric midsoles

Made from Aramid fibers like Kevlar or Twaron

More flexible compared to steel midsoles

Less heavy than steel midsoles

Sewn onto the puncture resistant boots upper construction, visible when removing the comfort insole

Not conducting cold, heat and electricity

Recommended for people working in metal scanning environments

More comfort due to technical evolution towards thinner, more lightweight materials.

Protecting the full bottom surface of the shoe

Combined very high strength-to-weight properties, with excellent temperature, abrasion and cut resistance values

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