We are going to talk about something different today but it is still related to history don’t worry! You may be surprised to here that at the beginning of the 1900’s there was almost no safety standards in the work place. You may have seen the famous picture of construction workers eating their lunch whilst building a skyscraper in New York City. This is probably the best example you could find of a lack of safety standards. These works have no safety equipment, not even a harness and they are sitting on a lentil eating their lunch almost 80 stories up.
I don’t know about other people but that would certainly put me off of eating my lunch! It was around 1910 then that they began to introduce safety standards to the work place. The first introduction of safety standards concerned the first type of safety boot. These new work boots for men were called sabots and they were actually made with a wooden shell (instead of a steel toe that is now used).
Contrary to popular believe the steel toe in a work boot is not actually designed to prevent injury to the worker. It is designed to prevent serious injury and there is a big difference. If a fork lift runs over your foot and you are wearing a steel toe boot, you will still get injured however you might save your foot from being completely crushed. Another common misconception is that if you are run over whilst wearing a steel toe work boot that the steel toe will peel back and cut your foot in half. This is not true and this is part of the S1 safety standard.
Steel toes are now being replaced with composite toe protection. These are metal free but still provide 90% of the protection that a steel toe boot would provide. Although they are not as strong a metal toe they are not far off and it means that you have no metal in your boot which is great for prison guards, police, airport security etc.
So there is a brief history of the work boot. Just a day to day item that we often used and maybe never given much thought to.