Written on Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Safety shoes are an essential part of personal protective equipment (PPE), as they can prevent severe and disabling foot injuries. Wearing appropriate foot protection isn’t just good practice, it’s required by law.
Protective footwear is required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for all employees who could be exposed to falling objects, hazardous materials, or matter that could pierce the sole. In order for your workplace to be as safe as possible you should make sure that you follow OSHA guidelines and purchase only certified footwear.
Protective footwear must also comply with American National Standards Institute standard ANSI Z41-1991, which breaks footwear down into 6 categories:
1. Impact/Compression Resistance – uses a steel or nonmetallic toe cap (steel toe) to protect against falling objects or crushing from heavy rolling objects.
2. Metatarsal Footwear – provides similar protection against falling objects to the area of the foot between the ankle and the toes.
3. Electrical Hazard – the sole of the shoe or boot is designed to protect workers from electric shock from 600 volts or less, under dry conditions.
4. Conductive Footwear – prevents the buildup of static electricity.
5. Puncture Resistance – the sole resists penetration from sharp objects; such as nails or broken glass.
6. Static Dissipative – reduces the buildup of static electricity by conducting body charge to ground, while protecting the employee from electrical hazards.
Here are some key factors to consider when choosing a safety shoe:
- Steel toes to protect against falling objects, which cause 60 percent of all foot injuries. Where there are electrical hazards, a fiberglass toe should replace the typical steel toe.
- Good traction to protect against slips and falls, which the Bureau of Labor Statistics said were responsible for about 329,000 lost workdays in 1994. Depending on the environment, consider cleats, or a shoe with an abrasive, gritted grooved, spiked or studded sole.
- Proper chemical protection. Boots and shoes made of rubber, PVC or neoprene (depending on the chemical) are needed.
- Employee comfort. If a shoe is unwieldy or heavy, chances are it will not be worn. Give workers a choice of footwear colors and styles but only after you are satisfied that all of those to be considered provide adequate protection.
Written By: Carissa Kelley