Personal Protective Equipment - Foot Protection

Foot protection means guarding your toes, ankles and feet from injury. Believe it or not, your feet have 26 bones for support and 38 joints for movement in each foot. Feet also have blood vessels, ligaments, muscles and nerves, which is why it hurts when you stub your toe or drop something on your foot. Your feet are a critical part of your body that you use every day and, in most cases, enable you to do your job effectively.

Protective footwear worn in the workplace is designed to protect the foot from physical hazards such as falling objects, stepping on sharp objects, heat and cold, wet and slippery surfaces, or exposure to corrosive chemicals.

Types of Protective Footwear Include:

  • Safety Shoes - Have toe guards that meet requirements of American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z41-1991, Protective Footwear.  Steel, reinforced plastic, and hard rubber are used to protect toes. Safety shoes and boots should match the hazardous conditions of the job.
  • Metatarsal Guards - Instep guards extend over the top of the food from impacts. Metal guards extend over the top of the shoe, rather than just over the toes. Impact protection should be worn when workers carry or handle materials such as heavy packages, objects, parts or tools and other activities where objects may fall onto the foot.
  • Conductive Shoes - Prevent the accumulation of static electricity that builds up in the body of the wearer.
  • Electrical Hazard Shoes - Offer protection against shock hazards from contact with exposed circuits.
  • Puncture Resistant Shoes - Protect against the hazards of stepping on sharp objects that can penetrate the soles. Puncture resistant shoes or boots should be required when a worker could step on sharp objects such as nails, wires, tacks, screws, large staples, scrap metal, or other objects that can penetrate less resistant material.
  • Slip Resistant Shoes - Have soles which provide improved traction in situations where slipping hazards exist. Slip resistant soles should be worn if working around water or other slippery surfaces. Slips, trips and falls account for about 15 percent of all reported disabling injuries.
    • When choosing footwear, look for shoes that meet ANSI Z41-1991 Protective Footwear.

What must my employer do?

Your employer must train you on the need for and use of protective footwear. Training should include:

  • Information on when PPE is needed.
  • Explanation on what protective footwear is required and where to obtain it.
  • The limitations of PPE
  • Proper care, maintenance, useful life, and disposal of the PPE.

For your safety, it is crucial that you understand and follow the company’s procedures for foot protection. If you have any questions regarding how to protect your feet from injury on the job, ask your supervisor.

Almost all of us work on our feet or at least use our feet to get to work. Doesn’t it make sense to take good care of our feet to ensure that they are able to get us to work?