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Choose the Best Foot Protection for Your Work Environment

Personal Protection

You need protection top to bottom. Leg and foot protection is important for many jobs. Here’s how to choose the best foot protection for your work environment.

Safety First, Boots

When workers think of personal protective equipment (PPE), they often focus on hard hats, safety glasses and gloves. However, leg and foot protection is equally important and should not be overlooked. Workers can be exposed to leg or foot injuries from tasks, activities, or areas such as:

  • Falling or rolling objects
  • Exposure to hot substances or electrical hazards
  • Walking on slippery or wet surfaces
  • Walking on surfaces with sharp objects like nails
  • Operating tools such as tampers or jack hammers
  • Pouring, washing, or spraying chemicals or materials
  • Lifting or working with heavy objects such as barrels
OSHA General Industry Standard 1910.136(a) The employer shall ensure that each affected employee uses protective footwear when working in areas where there is a danger of foot injuries due to falling or rolling objects, or objects piercing the sole, or when the use of protective footwear will protect the affected employee from an electrical hazard, such as a static-discharge or electric-shock hazard, that remains after the employer takes other necessary protective measures.
Worker Wearing Work Boots, Sweeping Up Floor
OSHA Construction Standard 1926.95(a) says that protective equipment, including personal protective equipment for eyes, face, head, and extremities, protective clothing, respiratory devices, and protective shields and barriers, shall be provided, used, and maintained

Basic steel toe or hard toe work boots should be considered when performing common construction activities such as lifting heavy objects. Steel or hard toe shoes must meet specific standards for protection.

In addition to toe protection, using some tools such as jack hammers and tampers may require the addition of metatarsal protection. Metatarsal guards protect the bones on the top of the feet.

OSHA Construction Standard 1926.95(d)(2) says that the employer is not required to pay for non-specialty safety-toe protective footwear (including steel-toe shoes or steel-toe boots) and non-specialty prescription safety eyewear, provided that the employer permits such items to be worn off the job-site.
OSHA General Industry Standard 1910.132(h)(2) The employer is not required to pay for non-specialty safety-toe protective footwear (including steel-toe shoes or steel-toe boots) and non-specialty prescription safety eyewear, provided that the employer permits such items to be worn off the job-site.
A cut away of this steel toe boot shows the interior steel shell designed to protect the toes of the worker.
A cut away of this steel toe boot shows the interior steel shell designed to protect the toes of the worker.
Example of steel toe versus composite toe.
Example of steel toe versus composite toe.
OSHA General Industry Standard 1910136(b)(1) Protective footwear must comply with… ASTM F-2412-2005, "Standard Test Methods for Foot Protection," and ASTM F-2413-2005… or ANSI Z41-1999, "American National Standard for Personal Protection -- Protective Footwear,"

Consider using foot protection designed for muddy, water soaked, or wet environments such as water proof rubber boots or boot covers and chest waders.

Boot covers or chemical resistant rubber boots should be worn when working with wet concrete or cement and similar chemicals.

Be sure to check that your books are labeled "slip and oil resistant" when walking on slippery or wet surfaces.

Work Boots, Hard Hat, Safety Goggles

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