7 Best Knee Pads for Work 
The building and construction industry is known to be a high-risk environment and those that operate within it are at greater risk of suffering a work-related injury. Accidents such as falls and slips are responsible for many job site injuries, but it is actually musculoskeletal problems such as shoulder, back and knee problems, that are the leading cause of lost working days in the UK.
In this article, 7 best knee pads for work, we are going to discuss:
- Different type of knee pads
- How knee pads can help to reduce chronic pain
- Why we believe knee pads should be considered as an essential piece of PPE Personal Protective Equipment
How does the knee joint work?
The knee joint is the largest joint in the human body, it is capable of handling very heavy loads, often supporting our entire body weight and more. As a hinge joint it allows the leg to extend and bend backwards such as when walking, climbing stairs, sitting down and getting back up again. Therefore, the knee is a critical joint in terms of mobility.
When you think of a hinge it oversimplifies the complexity of the knee joint which is made up of bones, ligaments, cartilage, tendons and fluid filled sacs called bursae. If we assume that the average person takes 3000 steps a day and someone active or in a physical job can do nearly 20’000, you start to understand how much wear and tear the knee is subject to.
Knee pain causes
Arthritis is a common cause of knee pain and is a result of articular cartilage loss – the slippery surface which covers the end of the bones where they meet and the back of the kneecap.
Aside from age and genetics, articular cartilage degeneration is often associated with joint stress from heavy repetitive lifting, impact injury and continuous pressure on the knees from kneeling.
Another cause of severe knee pain is prepatellar bursitis. The prepatellar bursa is a very slippery, fluid filled sac that reduces friction and acts as a cushion between the skin and the kneecap.
When it becomes inflamed, the lining thickens and produces excess fluid which collects in the sac. This causes swelling to the front of the knee.
What causes prepatellar bursitis?
- Repetitive kneeling – which is why it is often referred to as house maid’s knee. For the purpose of this article, it is more appropriate to consider the daily tasks of plumbers, carpenters, floor layers and builders, which require them to kneel frequently or for extended periods.
- Cuts and abrasions that cause a break in the skin and lead to infection. For example, kneeling on stones, screw heads or splinters.
What are the different types of knee pads?
Knee pads are typically manufactured from compressible foam or gel material and may also have an outer protective shell. They form a protective cushion between the knee and the surface being knelt on.
Type 1 Knee Pads
Type 1 knee pads are used independent of other clothing and are secured by straps that hold the pad in place.
Type 2 Knee Pads
Type 2 knee pads are retained in pockets found on work trouser legs or permanently attached to the garment.
Industrial Knee Pads
Industrial knee pads are tested to a specific standard EN14044:2004+A1:2010 which ensures they offer a level of fit retention and protection in a working environment.
Key aspects of the test procedure include:
- Peak transmitted force – simulates a kneeling action several times in quick succession by striking the same point five times in five minutes with 5 joules of impact energy.
- Ergonomic test – assesses how comfortable the pads are and ensures they remain in place. It involves the wearer walking around for approximately fifteen minutes, kneeling and rising 10 times. One manoeuvre must last 5 minutes and another must include a 10-metre shuffle on the knees.
- Penetration and resistance test – used to assess how effective the pad is at protecting against sharp objects.
- Level 1, for use on flat and uneven surfaces offering a penetration resistance of 100N or 10.2kg of force. Ideal for gravel and small, sharp objects.
- Level 2, ideal for uneven and flat surfaces offering a penetration resistance of 250N or 25.5kg of force. Suitable for use in severe conditions such as kneeling on large rocks, edges and very uneven surfaces.
- Force distribution – to ensure the load is distributed at a force of less than 30N across the surface of the pad.
Now that we have a basic understanding of the knee, work related injuries and how knee pads may help to prevent or reduce chronic knee pain, let’s have a look at the 7 best knee pads for work.
We make no apology for all the knee pads in this article coming from a single manufacturer – Toughbuilt. Boasting an extensive range, complimented by unique design features that offer unrivalled levels of comfort, safety and flexibility, we firmly believe that Toughbuilt offer the best selection of knee pads available.
Best knee pad for delicate surfaces
It goes without saying that protection of the wearer is the most important consideration when choosing a knee pad. However, when working on surfaces that can easily be scratched, chipped or stained it is prudent to select a knee pad that is as kind to the surface as it is to you, which is why Protrade recommend the Toughbuilt Ultra-Light Knee Pad.
Advantages of Toughbuilt TB-KP-1 Knee Pad
- Non-marring foam construction will not mark or scratch laminated flooring, tiles, plastics and decorative coatings such as painted floorboards.
- Single elasticated strap fastens at the top of the calf to avoid bunching behind the knee and thus prevents rubbing and subsequent irritation – even when worn all day long.
- The ultra-lightweight design is specifically made for perfectly flat surfaces and therefore, does not offer or require penetration resistance.
Best knee pad for flooring and carpet fitting
Toughbuilt’s clever SnapShell concept allows this robust knee pad to be used with or without the non-marring protective cover providing level 1 and 2 penetration resistance.
Advantages of Toughbuilt TB-KP-G203 Knee Pad
- Left and right specific pads for anatomical fit.
- High side walls help to prevent the pads from twisting off the knee when turning and pivoting.
- Tough SnapShell can be replaced when worn or swapped for alternative SnapShells such as Stabilizer and Rocker designs.
Best knee pad for gardening and concreting
Featuring a tall and flexible accordion top, preventing mud, wet concrete and debris from entering inside the pad – even when walking, Toughbuilt’s waterproof knee pads are the perfect pick for gardening, pouring concrete or any wet work.
Advantages of Toughbuilt TB-KP-102 Knee Pad
- Waterproof design maintains comfort and protection on wet and dirty surfaces.
- Detachable pivoting buckles make strap removal easy for cleaning.
- Easy to hose down after dirty work.
Best knee pad for utilities and general construction
The Toughbuilt TB-KP-G3 knee pad is not called the Fanatic without reason! It is the only knee pad to consider if you demand the very best protection, comfort and functionality. Pivoting locking straps work in conjunction with a hinged thigh support to eliminate any slipping of the pad, regardless of any shuffling, bending or climbing activity. A tough outer shell offers level 2 penetration protection making this unrivalled knee pad perfect for heavy duty internal and external applications over rough and uneven surfaces.
Advantages of Toughbuilt TB-KP-G3 Knee Pad
- Ultimate stability offering easy side to side movement without slipping, twisting or shifting.
- Dual straps above and below the knee provide all day comfort without bunching or pinching.
- Protruding lower platform towards the bottom of the pad, supports the shin and alleviates pressure from the ankles.
Best knee pad for roofing
Working at height requires absolute concentration and the primary consideration is avoiding a fall. Designing a trade specific kneepad was Toughbuilt’s way of providing a fit and forget solution so the wearer could concentrate on the task in hand. Based on the Fanatic design, incorporating thigh support to avoid pad re-adjustment, the Toughbuilt TB-KP-G3R – ‘R’ for ‘Roofers’ – uses a durable rubber shell which offers excellent grip when using the knees to balance and position the body, particularly useful when working on an inclined surface. The durable rubber shell also prevents damage to roof tiles which are susceptible to breakage.
Advantages of Toughbuilt TB-KP-G3 Knee Pad
- Hinged thigh support will not slip or need re-adjusting – perfect for when climbing ladders.
- Maximum Level 2 penetration resistance covers the knee and upper shin to prevent injury from uneven surfaces and edges.
- Quick release pivoting buckle and strap offers maximum adjustability and prevents cutting of the circulation.
Best knee pad for tiling and landscaping
Utilising the proven Gelfit knee pad in combination with a unique Stabiliser SnapShell provides a rock-solid platform to work from when tiling floors, applying adhesives and laying slabs.
Advantages of Toughbuilt TB-KP-G205 Knee Pad
- Stabilising SnapShell platform prevents the wearer from tipping and rocking when leaning over to maximise reach, during the application of adhesives and flooring compounds.
- The extra stability gained from wearing the pad makes it easier to lift and position heavier objects, such as slabs.
- High side walls prevent the pad from twisting when moving from side to side or forwards and backwards.
Best knee pad for plumbing, electrical and general building
The ToughBuilt Gelfit Rocker is the perfect all-round knee pad. The hard, shatter resistant SnapShell, offers the highest level of penetration resistance, and can be worn inside or outside to suit a multitude of tasks across many different trades. The rounded shape of the external shell allows the wearer to move freely when working on the knees. Should an application arise where a Non-Marring or Stabiliser shell be more suitable, the Rocker SnapShell can be swapped within seconds, further extending the flexibility of this versatile knee pad.
Advantages of Toughbuilt TB-KP-G201 Knee Pad
- High quality, interchangeable SnapShell knee pad for virtually any trade.
- Rounded shape of the SnapShell makes rotation and body positioning effortless.
- Ergonomic pad shape cups the entire knee providing maximum protection and fit retention.
Knee pads have long been considered a desirable piece of workwear, rather than an essential piece of Personal Protective Equipment. As is the case with many chronic injuries, by the time you recognise the problem – it is already too late. Wearing a set of quality knee pads, whilst at work, can significantly help to reduce the possibility of irreversible problems later in life – indeed, the American Journal of Epidemiology suggests that wearing knee pads can decrease the risk of occupational and other knee injuries by more than 50%.
Traditionally, knee pads have been regarded as an uncomfortable and unwelcome piece of work attire – due in part to the limited choice available and a ‘one type fits all approach’ from manufacturers. Now that companies, such as ToughBuilt, are dedicating significant research and resource into developing comfortable knee pads that meet the specific needs of trades people, we hope to see their widespread adoption across all trades.
I don’t think Baz Luhrmann was thinking about knee pads when he wrote the lyrics to Sunscreen, but they certainly finish this article off nicely.
‘Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone’.
Des Duddy – Joint Managing Director