Employees who face possible foot or leg injuries from falling or rolling objects or from crushing or penetrating materials should wear protective footwear. Also, employees whose work involves exposure to hot substances or corrosive or poisonous materials must have protective gear to cover exposed body parts, including legs and feet. If an employee’s feet may be exposed to electrical hazards, non-conductive footwear should be worn. On the other hand, workplace exposure to static electricity may necessitate the use of conductive footwear.
Safety footwear must meet ANSI minimum compression and impact performance standards in ANSI Z41-1991 (American National Standard for Personal Protection-Protective Footwear) or provide equivalent protection. Footwear purchased before July 5, 1994, must meet or provide equivalent protection to the earlier ANSI Standard (ANSI Z41.1-1967). All ANSI-approved footwear has a protective toe and offers impact and compression protection. The type and amount of protection varies. Different footwear protects in different ways. Check the product’s labeling or consult the manufacturer to make sure the footwear will protect the user from the hazards they face.
Foot and leg protection choices include leggings, metatarsal guards, toe guards, combination foot and shine guards, and safety shoes.
Special purpose shoes include electrically conductive shoes, electrical hazard, safety-toe shoes and foundry shoes.
As with all PPE, safety footwear should be inspected prior to each use. Shoes and leggings should be checked for wear and tear at reasonable intervals. This includes looking for cracks or holes, separation of materials, broken buckles or laces. The soles of shoes should be checked for pieces of metal or other embedded items that could present electrical or tripping hazards. Follow the manufacturers’ recommendations for cleaning and maintenance of protective footwear.
29 CFR 1910.136 Occupational Foot Protection
29 CFR 1917.94 Foot Protection, Marine Terminals
29 CFR 1926.96 Occupational Foot Protection
American National Standards Institute, American National Standard ANSI Z41-1991, Personnel Protection—Protective Footwear
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, OSH Answers, Foot Comfort and Safety at Work
U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA 3151-12R, 2003, page 19-22, Personal Protective Equipment