Provided by: Three Sixty Safety
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is crucial when it comes to preventing injuries and ensuring your health and safety on the job. One often overlooked and important type of PPE is safety footwear, which is designed to protect your feet from common manufacturing hazards.
Depending on the job activity and equipment you use, the following exposures could lead to serious foot injuries:
- Corrosive materials
- Electrical hazards
- Hot or slippery surfaces
- Static electricity, which could cause an explosion under the right conditions
- Heavy objects, which could fall or roll onto your feet, crushing them
- Sharp objects, which could puncture your feet
- Molten metal, which could splash onto your feet and cause burns and other injuries
When these risks are present in the workplace, employees must wear protective footwear to ensure safety and reduce injury risks. This Safety Matters examines various types of safety shoes common in manufacturing.
Types of Safety Shoes
There are several factors that determine what type of footwear is appropriate for you, including the potential hazards you’re exposed to, the machinery you use and the requirements of your position. What’s more, there are different types of safety shoes, each designed to mitigate specific workplace hazards. The following are the most common kinds of protective footwear:
- Steel-toe, reinforced safety-toe or reinforced toecap shoes—These types of shoes are designed to protect against crushing injuries caused by falling or dropped objects. For extra protection, metatarsal guards can be used, which help to safeguard the bones between your toes and ankle.
- Puncture-resistant shoes—These shoes are typically reinforced with metal and are designed to prevent injury should you step on a nail, screw or other sharp object.
- Metal-free footwear—These types of shoes are nonconductive and protect against electrocution risks. In general, these types of shoes can provide protection for up to 600 volts of electricity in dry environments. It should be noted that moisture and wear on shoes can impact the effectiveness of these kinds of safety shoes. For added protection around electricity, follow all applicable safe work procedures and wear metal-free footwear alongside other nonconductive PPE.
- Nonslip soles (rubber or wooden)—Slip-resistant shoes are equipped with a specialized sole that can reduce slip, trip and fall risks. These shoes are especially common in shop environments where cords, materials and other items increase trip hazards.
- Insulated footwear—These shoes are designed to protect feet against extreme temperatures. It should be noted that there are specific shoes for both hot and cold environments. Furthermore, risks related to chemical burns require specially treated shoes.
Regardless of the type of safety shoes you use, it’s important to ensure they fit properly and are well maintained. Safety shoes should be inspected before each use for signs of wear. If a shoe is cracked or shows other signs of damage, replace it immediately.
For any questions regarding safety shoes, speak with your supervisor.
This Safety Matters flyer is for general informational purposes only, and is not intended as medical or legal advice.