Storm Cleanup: Don’t Forget About Work Boots

The destructive winds of Hurricane Irene have taken their toll on many businesses, government buildings and homes. Lives were altered and lost to the natural disaster. Almost immediately following the storm, people on the East Coast set to cleaning up after it.

There are a number of precautions but one of the most important items to remember during this type of cleanup is protective gear, such as work boots. Your best bet is to go with a sturdy pair that has a reinforced toe.

While OSHA spotlights steel toe boots, a composite toe can withstand even more impact. Open-toed shoes should absolutely never be worn. Also, try to stick to rubber soles, especially when working near felled power lines or other electrical sources. This particular type of sole reduces the risk of electric shock. You know, because rubber has a very high-resistance to electricity (not easily conducted).

If working in water contaminated with mold (basically all floodwater), you may want to use pullover rubber boots or overshoes that can be washed. Disposable shoe covers are another option for those working in flooded areas.

Other protective gear measures include:

  • Wearing long pants, socks, long sleeves
  • Eye protection (goggles, safety glasses)
  • Ear protection
  • Heavy work gloves are a must
  • Use kneepads if installing or tearing out flooring

For a full checklist, view OSHA’s page.

What precautions do you think are the most important during disaster cleanups?

EdgeWalk: The Ironworker Experience

Work as an ironworker requires quite the level of fearlessness. They are responsible for constructing (and sometimes deconstructing) all those bridges, high-rise buildings and assorted iron structures throughout the world. They can’t be afraid of heights because sometimes labor 37 stories in the air (see video below). These men and women rely on the traction of their work boots to get them safely through the day.

While this is most definitely a stressful way to make a living, some people believe the feeling to be thrilling. Case in point, the CN Tower in Canada is offering visitors the chance to walk along the EdgeWalk. That’s 116 stories in the air. Yikes!

To walk among the clouds, you must be 13 years old and weigh 75-310 pounds. For those teen interested in living life 1,168 feet in the air, their parents or guardians must give written permission. Curious about the experience? Check out the video below for a preview.

Would you brave the EdgeWalk?

Top 10 Paying Jobs for Tradesmen

Do you need a little grit under your nails to feel like you’ve done an honest day’s work? You aren’t alone.

Although many high school seniors spend their last months trying to decide on college or major, others are looking into trade schools. Depending on the type of trade, these students maybe out in the workforce in as little as a few months and, according to Forbes.com, they could be making a very nice wage.

And what are these jobs? Read on to learn more.

Elevator Installers, Repairers

Topping the list are elevator installers and repairmen. On average, these men and women make around $70,010 annually. That works out to about $33.66 as an hourly wage. Where is the best place to work as this particular type of handyman? New Hampshire.

Powerhouse, Substation and Relay Repairers

Annually, these employees bring home around $64,120 with the top 10 percent raking $84,490. Those who are better paid reside (or at the very least work) in Vermont. The workers keep power generating stations, substations and in-service relays up and running.

Transportation Inspectors

With an average salary of $63,050, transportation inspectors happily inspect equipment/goods of semis and trains, etc. The top 10 percent rake in nearly $107,790. The best locale for this career choice is Washington, D.C.

Oil and Gas Rotary Drill Operators

Although best paid in Alaska, oil and gas drill operators make a fairly decent living nationwide with the average salary ringing in at $59,980. They find and extract petroleum products from the earth and assist in testing during oil and gas exploration. The top tier of employees makes $98,410.

Petroleum Pump System Operator, Refinery Operator and Gauger

On average, petroleum pump system operators, refinery operators and gaugers take home approximately $59,580 every year. In Alaska, the best wages can be earned at about $81,360. These workers control the petroleum refining and processing units.

Petroleum refinery

Power Line Installers and Repairers

Employees who install and repair power lines earn $57,510 each year, which works out to be around $27.65 per hour. In California, these workers are paid the best. Their job title is pretty self-explanatory; they install and repair cables and wires utilized in electrical power or distribution systems.

Commercial Divers

Annually, commercial divers take home $56,400 on average. Hourly that works out to about $27.12 an hour. The mission of these divers is to inspect, repair, remove or install equipment or structures from underwater. The top divers earn about $89,560 and the best paid live in New Jersey.

Boilermakers

Best paid in Alaska, boilermakers construct, assemble, maintain and repair steam boilers and house auxiliaries. The annual average salary comes in at $55,750; the top 10 percent bring in $80,830.

Subway and Streetcar Operators

The best paid subway and streetcar operators are found in Texas. On average nationwide, these operators earn $53,440 a year. They operate passenger trains and suburban trains. The top ten bring home $66,570.

Seattle streetcar

Aircraft Mechanics and Service Technicians

Yearly, these mechanics and service technicians make $53,280. Their responsibilities include diagnosing, adjusting, repairing and overhauling aircraft engines and assemblies. The top 10 percent earn $72, 250.

What’s the best paid trade-type career you’ve heard of?

Mike Rowe: The New Face of Cat Work Boots

Before the inception of the boob tube phenomena Dirty Jobs, work boots were just boots. Now it would seem that the footwear has acquired more meaning, representing the men and women who punch in at the crack of the dawn and spend their workdays on their feet. Armed with his banter and adventurous nature, host Mike Rowe quickly found his way in the hearts of Americans.

Following the success of the show, Rowe became the spokesperson for Ford. And now, according to The Grand Rapids Press, he will be the face… errr… feet of Cat Footwear, which is a brand of Wolverine World Wide Inc.

Rowe is no stranger to the work boots. For over a decade the Michigan-based company has provided the host with his safety footwear.

Mike Rowe on location at Meadowbrooke Farms in Carlisle, Pa. for Dirty Jobs Gourd Maker episode. via Discovery Channel website

“Cat saw me on TV and took pity,” said Rowe in a statement. “Actually, they took pity on my boots and called to ask if I’d like to wear something a bit more keeping with my line of work. I said sure and was pleasantly surprised to learn that, while tough, the boots that will bear my name are NOT constructed of yellow iron.”

Scheduled to be introduced this fall, the Mike Rowe Works by Cat Footwear will feature a few work boots and rugged casual shoes. The styles will reflect the footwear needs of those dirty jobs Rowe have tried his hand at in past shows.

Keep an eye out for Cat Footwear's Mike Rowe line this fall. via

“He has become an advocate for people who wear work boots,” said Kelly Ballou, marketing manager for Cat Footwear.

The Mike Rowe line of boots and shoes will fall between $100 and $130.

What was your favorite Mike Rowe, dirty job adventure?

Timberland PRO Introduces Innovative Helix Safety Footwear

Feet tired halfway through the workday? Need industrial level protection without compromising the comfort factor? Well hold on to your hardhat, Timberland Pro has a new collection of work boots that combine the two.

Due to the popularity of its Endurance and TiTAN collections, Timberland Pro recently announced the release of its latest line of innovative work boots — the Timberland PRO Helix collection. Employing innovative comfort features, the Helix footwear helps workers focus more on their job and not on their feet.

“We have spent extensive time field researching our end users and have infused those learnings into the new Helix collection,” said Jim O’Connor, senior director of product and marketing for Timberland PRO. “By combining the lightweight protection found in our TiTAN boots with the anti-fatigue technology in our Timberland PRO Endurance work boots, new Helix styles bring a hybrid approach which should allow our consumers to stay on their feet longer without feeling exhausted.”

The footwear in the line includes the following features:

  • Timberland exclusive anti-fatigue technology: molded, inverted cones that support and collapse in key pressure zones that provides higher energy return.
  • Flexible, soft durable leathers
  • Mesh lining with Agion microbial treatment for odor control
  • Active heel lock secures the heel for optimal fit
  • TiTAN alloy or composite safety toe provides lightweight protection and roomy fit
  • Some styles feature a waterproof membrane to keep feet dry
  • Slip-resistant outsole with aggressive lugs which maximizes traction

Employers might think of suggesting these boots to their workers as they could minimize business expenses. “These boots will help negate the need for companies to provide expensive anti-fatigue mats that can pose as dangerous tripping hazards,” added O’Connor.

Composed of rugged full-grain leather, the Helix safety footwear series comes in men’s sizes 7-12, 13, 14, 15.

Have you ever worn a Timberland boot?

Review: Magnum Work Pro Ultra CT WPi

Magnum Work Pro Ultra CT WPi

I recently set out to test Magnum’s Work Pro Ultra CT WPi boots. While not being able to really tear into these boots by going on long hunts, I have been able to put many miles in them and can say for sure they live up to Magnum’s high quality of products.

Here is a rundown of the product features:

  • Tumbled leather upper
  • Waterproof
  • ion-mask for a dry, cleaner, more lightweight boot
  • Moisure-wicking synthetic lining
  • ASTM-approved composite safety toe
  • Non-metallic composite support shank
  • M-PACT contoured sockliner with memory foam
  • Compression-molded EVA midsole for cushioning
  • High-traction carbon rubber outsole
  • Electrical-hazard resistant

While testing the Electrical-hazard resistant feature of the boot would have been fun, I thought it best to just leave that to the professionals. I did however test the safety toe. I dropped a 45-pound weight directly onto the toe (while wearing them) and am proud to say that I still have all seven of my toes.

To help break it down, here is a quick pros and cons list.

PROS

  • The boots were true to size.
  • They are easy to get on and stay on as slip-on boots.
  • They are pretty easy to take off after a long walk.
  • The waterproofing kept my feet nice and dry.
  • I had no problem with traction on wet muddy hills.
  • Nice and lightweight.
  • No “break-in” time—felt great right out of the box.

CONS

  • The width of the shoe seems a bit too wide. The medium width feels more like a wide. This did lead to a bit more play in the ankle area than I would like, so I kept the activities more on the mundane than rigorous side.

So after all the tests, I decided to grade these boots with a 90/100 with the only real downfall being the width.

Cowboy Boots For Every Wrangler

Someone once said, “A cowboy is a man with guts and a horse.” That being said, the life of a cowboy includes many dangerous elements – stampeding bulls, unruly horses and unpredictable nature in all its fierce glory. For a cowboy the right pair of work boots is imperative to protecting his feet and livelihood.

Cowboy boots have come a long way since the days of the Old West. Innovative technologies like supportive footbeds, gel cushions and stabilizers reduce stress on the knees, hips and lower back. Protective toe caps made of steel and composite materials safeguard the toes of these rough and tumble wranglers.

Several companies cater to the western style of footwear, such as Ariat, Timberland and Justin Original Work Boots. Check out a few of the preferred modern-day cowboy boots below.

Ariat WorkHog Boot

Ariat

The Ariat western work boot has a composite toe. With a Waterproof Pro design, the leather has an impermeable barrier. Its ATS (advanced torque stability) Max technology and forefoot and heel stabilizers provide support and reduce foot fatigue. The boot is slip-resistant and protects against electrical hazards. The pull-on work boot has a low-friction footbed to protect from blistering and heat build-up.

Timberland Wellington Boot

Timberland

The steel toe work boot utilizes anti-fatigue and temperature-regulating technologies. In addition to protecting the cowpokes’ toes, the boot is slip-, oil-, and abrasion-resistant. The Timberland Wellington has a Goodyear welt cast-bond construction. Impervious to moisture, the Wellington is waterproof.

Justin Stampede Work Boots

Justin Stampede

Justin Original Work Boots is known for its durability. The Stampede is one of the more stylish line of boots with fancy stitching and copper kettle rowdy leather. The boot has a round steel toe and an oil-, slip- and abrasion-resistant outsole. Wait, did we mention it was fashionable?

Would cowboy boots be appropriate for  your everyday work routine?

Moxie Trade Spotlights Work Boots for Women

Women and work boots? The times, they are a changing. More and more women are breaking into the “work boots” line of work, which may include construction or carpentry projects.

While many argue that women can do anything men can do, there is one blindingly obvious fact that hangs in the air … women require different work gear then men. Let’s face it — women’s feet possess very different characteristics than men’s feet. Oftentimes, if women have to wear multiple pairs of socks to force a more comfortable fit with men’s work boots, which usually results in blisters anyway.

Moxie Trades offers women in the workforce better fitting boots. Marissa McTasney founded the company after running into difficulty in finding work boots for herself. In 2008, Moxie ran a series of videos that highlighted specific women who proudly laced up work boots every day.

Who Wears Work Boots?

Who puts on work boots every day? These boots are found on the feet of  blue-collar professionals such as construction workers, lumberjacks, electricians or factory workers; however, the list of work boot wearers goes on and on.

Most employers will provide a list of requirements of footwear, especially for those who work around hazardous materials and in potentially dangerous environments. Even if the higher-ups do not provide a list of regulations for boots, anyone who works in the aforementioned conditions should seriously consider wearing the protective footwear.

A variety of styles and features are available. Almost all boots are waterproof, which outdoors workers like park rangers, forestry employees and backcountry guides are especially thankful for.

Perfect for mechanics or factory workers, slip-resistant boots provide extra traction on wet or oily surfaces.

[U.S. Navy mechanics properly torque the fitting on an aircraft tire.]

Electrical hazard boots have insulation that protects wearers from electrical charges up to 600 volts. Linemen, electricians and inside wiremen are particularly fond of this footwear.

Insulated boots provide additional lining to keep feet warm. Due to the extra material, these boots may have a bit more weight to them. Those unfortunate enough to work outside during winter may want to consider this boot for the frosty months. It is also a good fit for those working in refrigerated warehouses and ice road truckers.

[Lumberjacks wear waterproof boots during crosscut at Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show.]

Probably the most well-known aspect of the work boot is its toe cap structure. Nearly all work boots have a protective toe cap either made of steel or composite materials. What’s the difference between the two? Well, steel toe boots have a single layer of steel in the toe. If an object falls on the toe that exceeds the weight restrictions, the steel will be bent and may cause injury to the toes. It may even have to be cut off the worker’s foot. Composite toe boots are made up of several materials, usually like plastics such as thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). If an object exceeding the composite toe weight restrictions, the toe will shatter upon contact.

Many tout the composite toe work boot for its reduced weight and extreme cold and heat resistance. Composite toe boots are up to 50 percent lighter than steel toe boots. Yet some employers may require the use of steel toe boots.

Are you a steel toe supporter or do you prefer the composite toe?