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Are Rigger Boots Banned On Construction Sites?

Posted by Xamax on 02/08/17 09:51

For many on the construction site, rigger boots are an attractive option because they’re a slip-on safety boot between a lace-up and a wellington. They have a looser fit than traditional safety boots, and their added waterproofing makes them an appealing choice; however, are rigger boots banned on construction sites?

rigger-boots are they banned?

Photo credit: Simple City via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC-SA


The purpose of rigger boots

Rigger boots were made for oil rig workers who were in danger of falling into large bodies of water, and, thus, needed a shoe that was easily removed. Outside of oil rigs, rigger boots aren’t often used for the same reason today and have seen adoption across various construction industries and roles.


The risks of wearing rigger boots on a construction site

Some construction companies have found that their workers, when wearing rigger boots, are at increased risk of sprained ankles, and other foot and ankle injuries. On a construction site, it’s a requirement to wear safety footwear that is CE certified, which means they comply with PPE regulations for site safety boots.

It’s important, however, to have the correct boot for whichever function is carried out on site. For example, lace-up boots cannot be worn for asbestos work in an enclosure, and workers wearing typical safety boots when pouring cement have experienced cement burns, so - in this case - wellington boots may be more appropriate.


So, are rigger boots banned?

All of this boils down to the question of are rigger boots banned? No, these boots aren’t banned by any large, governing body, but they may be banned on individual sites.

Furthermore, whilst there has not been an outright regulatory change, lots of bigger firms are starting to ban rigger boots across various roles, mainly to keep their policy in check. Policy changes began rolling out for certain roles, but it seems to be more far reaching recently.

Read more about regulations on these forums: Health and Safety Solutions, IOSH Forum, and HSE Web Communities here.


How do I choose the best boots?

When choosing safety boots, you want to find something that is comfortable, durable, and slip-resistant. Slips, trips, and falls are the most common workplace accident, and when you’re out on the construction site with uneven surfaces and hazardous conditions, you’re in danger of even more risks, so slip-resistance is a number one factor when choosing safety boots.

You may want other considerations too such as steel-cap toes, anti-static properties, waterproofing, electrical hazard compliance, and a good outsole. Outsoles can protect you from heat, chemicals, oil, gas, debris, marking, and slipping. For summer you might want an equally safe, but lighter pair of boots to keep you cooler, and for winter you may want a fur lined pair. Remember that site safety boots need replacing roughly every 6-12 months anyway, or when they’re in disrepair. Your employer will provide safety boots.


Portwest Neptune Rigger S5.jpg

Portwest Neptune Rigger S5,  £14.46 per pair


Portwest Unlined Rigger.jpg

Portwest Unlined Rigger,  £19.86 per pair


Portwest Steelite Rigger Boot.jpg

Portwest Steelite Rigger Boot,  £23.25 per pair


Caterpillar Propane Rigger Go Back .jpg

Caterpillar Propane Rigger, £47.07 per pair

If you’re in charge of ordering safety boots for your company, choose a few models that vary, and allow your employees to try on pairs and find the boots that work for them. After all, if your worker is comfortable, they’re more likely to comply. Make sure you update your health and safety policy regularly to identify all hazards, and figure out what boots will help protect against those hazards too.

Amblers Steel Safety Mid Boot-117680-edited.jpg


Amblers Steel Safety Mid Boot, £37.93

Portwest Compositelite Fur Lined Thor Boot S3 CI for winter.jpg


Portwest Fur Lined Thor Boot S3 CI, £25.78



Portwest Steelite Kumo Boot Scuff Cap S3 outdoor boot.jpg


Portwest Steelite Kumo Boot Scuff Cap S3, £13.18


Remember to take good care of your boots and clean them regularly according to the manufacturer's instructions. You may wish to have insoles, and wear specialty socks too to make them more comfortable. Be sure to fasten or lace up your shoes correctly in order to maximize safety too.

When comparing the different boot types (see images above), it's easy to see that Riggers don't provide the same ankle support as safety boots. The ankles are flimsier on Riggers, and it makes the ankle prone to injury; however, the bests policy is always be careful when waking and moving on site. It's understandable that many workers turn to Riggers instead of Wellies since they're more "stylish," and Riggers instead of Safety Boots because they're easier to pull on, but overall foot safety should be considered on site. 

As someone who purchases for a group, if you have a worker who needs both Riggers and Site Safety Boots, make sure this person has access to both types of boots. Riggers aren't a catch-all shoe for safety. Make sure to educate all workers on the risks of wearing the wrong type of footwear on site so that lack of knowledge isn't catching anyone out or causing accidents. So, whereas Riggers aren't actually banned on most sites, it's not recommended your workers wear them - just in case. 


Make sure your workplace is PPE compliant.

If you aren’t sure which regulations you should be following on site, or which equipment to order when, then download our FREE PPE compliance checklist. We have all of the information you need to maintain, store, protect, and order the right equipment for your business.

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Topics: PPE