One of the most essential components to proper PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is what’s on your feet, safety shoes are more than a legal requirement. They are essential to work safety and should be worn at all times. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that personnel wear safe work boots in the presence of any hazard, and the employer is responsible for determining the right kind of boot for the job site.
Protective footwear requirements are common for:
- Renovations and remodels
- Auto repair
- Machine operation
But, What Are the OSHA Safety Shoe Requirements?
Safety shoes or boots must have a leather upper, non-skid soles, built-in toe caps, oil resistance, and impact and compression resistance ratings of 75.
Employers have a responsibility to conduct hazard assessments for the job site and determine the necessary PPE. Where warehouses may require steel toe boots to protect from rolling forklifts, electricians require a composite boot that will not conduct electricity. Less hazardous workplaces like kitchens may require slip resistant shoes.
OSHA suggests protective footwear be worn in situations involving the following:
- Corrosive or poisonous materials
- Electrical hazards
- Static electricity that could cause an explosion
- Heavy objects that could roll onto feet
- Sharp objects that could puncture the foot
- Molten metal that could splash onto feet
- Hot or slippery surfaces
And, What exactly is the recommended safety toe for my job?
- COMPOSITE TOE
Composite toe boots meet OSHA and ASTM safety requirements. They are made of non-metallic fibers like Kevlar® and do not conduct electricity. Composite toe boots are preferred by engineers, electricians and some independent contractors.
Composite toe boots, however, do not offer the same protection from impact as steel-toed boots,.
- STEEL TOE
Steel toe boots have the advantages of lower costs, greater strength and provide stronger impact protection and shear resistance. Employers should determine the level of risk at their work site and decide whether composite or steel is best suited for their work hazards and employee comfort.
Note: Steel toe boots should not be used on jobs with electrical hazards. The metal toes conduct electricity. Electricians should use electrical hazard protection work boots.
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