Protective footwear (like safety glasses) is almost a prerequisite in nearly all manufacturing areas due to hazards involved. For example, whenever there is the possibility of falling or rolling objects, or items that may crush or penetrate the legs or feet, then workers must have adequate protective footwear. Virtually every construction zone has hazards that require protective footwear, as do mining and most agriculture industries.
Even if no falling objects are present, if workers are exposed (or have possible exposure) to slick surfaces, then they may need slip-resistant footwear, such as the Wilkuro SlipResistTM.
Footwear is intended to protect against specific hazards. Employers and workers must check the product’s label to ensure adequate protection from workplace hazards.
According to Canada’s Occupational Safety and Health agency, employers should assess the workplace and work activities for:
- Materials handled or used by the worker.
- Risk of objects falling onto or striking the feet.
- Any material or equipment that might roll over the feet.
- Any sharp or pointed objects that might cut the top of the feet.
- Objects that may penetrate the bottom or side of the foot.
- Possible exposure to corrosive or irritating substances.
- Possible explosive atmospheres including the risk of static electrical discharges.
- Risk of damage to sensitive electronic components or equipment due to the discharge of static electricity.
- Risk of coming into contact with energized conductors of low to moderate voltage (e.g., 220 volts or less).
Also, evaluate the risk:
- to ankles from uneven walking surfaces or rough terrain
- of foot injury due to exposure to extreme hot or cold
- of slips and falls on slippery walking surfaces
- of exposure to water or other liquids that may penetrate the footwear causing damage to the foot and the footwear
- of exposure to rotating or abrasive machinery (e.g., chainsaws or grinders)
ANSI provides standards for minimum compression and impact performance. All safety footwear in the workplace must meet current ANSI industry standards or provide equivalent protection.
Footwear that is approved by ANSI has a protective toe and provides impact and compression protection. However, the type and level of protection does vary. Make sure you select a quality product, such as ANSI tested, OSHA accepted and CSA Certified Wilkuro Safety Toes, which are slip on safety shoes made from durable steel toe caps and sturdy PVC slip-resistant materials.
NOTE: When workers are in the presence of electrical hazards, non-conductive footwear should be worn. In some workplaces (especially when working near flammables or combustible dust) it is necessary to wear non-conductive footwear due to static electricity. Non-conductive factors will be stated on the product.
Other workers, such as those who work around metal detectors, (nuclear workers, airport workers and security personnel) may need composite toes, which offer ample toe protection without metal-based parts.
Care of Protective Footwear
Like other safety equipment, an inspection prior to each use is necessary. Workers should check for wear and tear, such as identifying cracks or holes, excessively worn soles or outer material.
Employees should look for embedded metal or other items that could compromise electrical safety or constitute tripping hazards.
Cleaning and maintenance of protective footwear should be performed according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.