Will Rubber Sole Boots Keep You From Being Shocked?

Will Rubber Sole Boots Keep You From Being Shocked?

We’ve all been told if there’s any risk of electrical shock, make sure you’ve got some solid rubber boots. But would rubber boots really keep you from being zap-fried by an electrical jolt? What’s the logic behind such an idea? Join us as we discover if electrical shock can really be prevented by wearing rubber sole boots.

Rubber Boots Are More Than Grounding Shoes

First and foremost, avoiding electrical shock isn’t often the main reason work boots use rubber soles. Rubber is lightweight and great for giving your step a bit of cushion, like pillows for your feet (but much more durable). It’s also easy to cut indentations into rubber, giving your boots traction and slip resistance. This is important to understand because, quite often, it’s believed that rubber sole shoes were engineered specifically to prevent electrical shock. For most shoes, this isn’t the case.


How Does Rubber Stop Electricity?

How do rubber shoes keep you from being shocked? It’s similar to the way that birds sit on powerlines without being fried. As long as the birds don’t become grounded, they’re fine. But let’s say one of the birds has a really long leg. While sitting on the powerline, it also touches the ground with its long leg. This causes the bird to be “grounded.” The current will go through the bird, electrocuting the long-legged avian.

It’s the same thing for humans. Let’s say you grabbed a powerline without rubber sole shoes. Since you are connected to the ground, the current would flow through you and towards the ground, causing you to be electrocuted.

Rubber does not conduct electricity, however. In fact, it's the opposite. Rubber is an insulator, a material in which an electrical charge can’t flow through. So, technically, if you grab a powerline while wearing thick rubber sole boots, the electricity can’t go through you to get to the ground since the rubber is keeping you from being grounded.

Here’s a great little video showing how a group of people insulated from the ground can touch an electric fence without getting shocked. Then you’ll see what happens when one of them decides to get brave.

Rubber Protects You From Electricity

So, in theory, thick rubber soles could possibly protect you from being electrocuted. However, the issue is that the current might go around your shoes in plenty of other ways. Even if you’re wearing rubber soles, if any other part of your body (elbows, knees, etc.) is touching the ground, you’ll get shocked. Another scenario is that you’ve stepped in water, a liquid often found near construction sites or about anywhere else on planet Earth. If the current can travel through the water and around your boot, it’ll cause you to be grounded.

Rubber Shoes and More at Welding Supplies From IOC

So, are rubber soles a smart precaution? Yeah, when it comes to things that might save your life. But it’s not something you should rely on. Always make sure your equipment is unplugged when not in use. And if your machine is sparking, making funny noises, or not acting as it should, don’t keep using it. Give our experts a free call. However, if the machine is old, it may be best to look into purchasing a new cutting-edge machine with all the features you need.

Shop for a new machine at Welding Supplies from IOC, the leading choice for welders everywhere. Our selection of top-of-the-line products from brands like  Miller, Lincoln Electric, and Hypertherm is unmatched. Whether you're in the market for a new MIG welder, plasma cutters, protective gear like welding helmets, or consumables like stick electrodes or TIG rods, Welding Supplies from IOC has it in stock.

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