Protecting worker's feet from injuries is very important in workplace safety. Causes of foot injuries can range from impact from heavy falling objects, crushing that results from motor, industrial, or railroad vehicles rolling over the foot, punctures that come from stepping on something sharp, chemical splashes and burns, electric shock, extreme heat to cold or moisture, and any harm that comes from slipping and falling. The purchase and use of proper foot protection can help keep workers safe, so it's important for employers to understand the different kinds of foot protection available.
Most work boots are made from thick leather that offers a fair amount of protection and can be lined with polyester, nylon, fleece, or felt. Many boot manufacturers offer an added level of protection by adding steel or composite guards in the toe area. These guards help keep workers' toes safe from injuries. In comparison to steel toes, composite toes do not conduct electricity and give a bit more protection against heat and cold.
Pull-on boots made of PVC, neoprene, nitrile, and blends can also be equipped with steel toes, midsoles, and metatarsal guards. Pull-ons are ideal for a wide variety of uses, including chemical plants, oil rigs, farming, food processing, and much more.
Other types of foot protection include overboots and overshoes. Boot and shoe covers fit over regular shoes and work boots, and will give workers added protection from water, snow, slush, chemicals, and hazardous or unsanitary conditions. Overboots offer added coverage for legs and can be offered to visitors who may need protective footwear at a worksite.
Accessories can also be purchased to enhance the protection that work boots offer. This includes aluminum and polycarbonate shields and guards for toes and the metatarsal bones on the top of the feet. Shields and guards can be quickly and easily slipped on or strapped onto shoes or boots, or tied into boot laces.
OSHA requires that boots are provided by employers for workers who spend time in areas where the danger of falling objects, rolling items, or electrical shock is particularly high. It is also necessary for foot protection to conform to ASTM requirements for impact resistance, compression resistance, metatarsal protection, conductive properties, electrical hazards, puncture resistance, and static dissipation.
Boots are one of the most important safety products that employers can provide to their workers. Foot injuries can happen too easily, and without the proper protection, these injuries will make it difficult for a worker to return to work quickly. Offering high-quality steel-toed or composite-toed work boots helps to keep employees safer and healthier while remaining productive at work.