So inspecting and cleaning your work safety shoes is what you love to spend time doing right? If you’re like most workers, the answer is a resounding “no,” which is perfectly understandable. You’ve got places to go, people to see, and the last thing you want to do when you get off work is spend 5 minutes examining your footwear.

Still, the only way to avoid your shoe springing a leak while you’re mopping or having your sole come loose in the middle of the dinner rush is by keeping an eye on your shoes. My job is to make sure that you know what to look for, so that you know when you should buy new slip resistant shoes.

Check Your Tires
Much as you would examine a tire for tread depth, check your outsole once a week or so after work. Is the tread becoming less noticeable on the heel or under the ball of the foot? Does it feel smooth when you run your hand across it? If there are chunks or pieces missing or cracks in the sole, these are also signs that you should begin shopping for a new pair of work shoes.

Don’t Let Your Shoe “Talk”
When the outsole of your shoe begins to separate from the upper, we refer to this as “talking” because it looks like a mouth opening at the toe of your shoe. This is a simple sign of wear and will occur with enough time in all shoes. The construction of the shoe determines how long it will be before this occurs, but whenever it happens it’s time to get a new pair of shoes. You can usually repair the shoe enough to survive a couple of weeks with some liquid cement, but this is only a temporary fix and should not be counted on.

Unless You’re the Pope, Your Shoes Shouldn’t Be “Holey”
Yes, it’s corny, but you understand my point. As the upper material of your shoes takes a beating from water, grease, flour, snags and rubs it will begin to tear. This may happen more quickly depending on your work environment and the material of the upper. Besides being unsightly, this makes your shoe less reliable because a small hole or rip can become a big one in a hurry. The last thing you want 2 hours into a 12 hour shift is your shoe to fall apart, so be proactive. Visually check your uppers after every couple of shifts.

It’s Hard Getting Old

There’s no hard and fast rule about the age of slip resistant shoes or how often you should buy new ones. Different shoes use different quality materials and construction processes, and your work environment isn’t exactly the same as someone else’s. Generally, slip resistant shoes will last between six and twelve months in the average work environment. Some may last longer, some not as long. This is why many companies offer their employees a shoe “subsidy” once or twice a year, to be sure that they are wearing shoes in the best condition.