Clearly boots need to be comfortable so that the feet are not stressed, but when selecting a new pair of boots there are many other aspects to consider. For most people working outdoors, boots are worn to keep the feet safe. They are an item of personal protective equipment and should be selected according to the hazards identified by the risk assessment.
Certain tasks will dictate the need to use special boots, for instance, chainsaw users should wear boots conforming to EN ISO 17249, but for general outdoor work there are still a number of points to think about.
It is important to consider the structure of the boot and the conditions in which it will be worn. For most horticultural workers, a steel toe-cap is essential and it may be that a steel mid-sole is also required. The tread is important for working on sloping ground, while fine-turf workers need a sole that leaves little or no impression on the ground.
If working mostly on uneven ground, choose a rigid boot with minimum lateral flex so that the muscles in the foot are not fighting to maintain the body's stability and balance. There should be cushioning under the heel so that the jolts of working on hard ground or jumping on and off equipment are not transferred up the legs and into the spine.
Consider the degree of waterproofing required and the need for resistance to oils, chemicals and cuts. Most safety boots will specify the degree of heat the sole will take - a factor that can be important when working near fires.
Sally Drury has reported for HW and its forerunner GC&HTJ for 25 years, and has spent more than five years testing machinery for HW and What Kit? The advice in this helpline is independent.