Working outside in Canadian winters, or in cold conditions in general, requires the proper protection. Not only can being cold and wet make for a miserable day on the job, it can also be hazardous to your health and safety. Here are some essential tips to keep you or your workers safe, warm and dry. From winter work boots to clothing to the layers in between. these tips will help you make better decisions and stay warm working in the cold.
- Layer Layer Layer! Work clothing should be worn in multiple layers to provide better protection versus a single thick layer. This is because the air between layers is what provides you with the best insulation – more than the clothing itself! This is true for your feet as well.
- Material Matters. Layers are crucial, but so is the material they are made out of. Remember “Cotton is Rotten” as it becomes damp or wet quickly and holds moisture near your skin. Wool and synthetic fibers continue to insulate and retain heat even when wet. For socks, your best option is polypropylene liner socks that keep feet warm but draw moisture away from the foot. Then add a pair of merino wool socks on top. Layers, again, are your best bet to stay warm and dry.
- Bulky isn’t Better. When socks are too thick, they make work boots or safety shoes tight, and you lose insulation properties because it's actually the air between layers that gives you warmth. Tight footwear will also decrease blood flow and make feet colder faster, leading to foot fatigue.
- Rubber Soles on safety footwear are best not only for traction on snow and ice but also as a protective layer as well as staying pliable longer in the cold. Don’t forget to use removable insoles that can be taken out to dry overnight.
- Leather checks many boxes! Leather safety shoes and work boots are recommended because they are breathable and allow foot perspiration to evaporate. Waterproof work boots are ideal for keeping dampness, slush and snow out but can keep foot moisture in. That’s why wearing proper socks are so important if you do choose footwear that is waterproof or has a waterproof membrane. Check out our selection of winter work boots
- Insulation by the numbers. Work boots that use Thinsulate or Thermolite insulation, for example, help conserve the body’s heat to help keep you warmer longer. If you work outside you need more than the standard 200 grams of insulation. So, look for anywhere from 400 grams to 1,000 grams, depending on how long you spend in the cold.
At Mister Safety Shoes, we are committed to helping workers get the best fitting, most comfortable safety shoes and work boots and work wear so they remain productive and protected. We provide an end-to-end safety footwear management program for all sizes of businesses in Ontario and Alberta. Please contact our business solutions team if you are looking for a safety footwear program for your company.