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Foot Protection




The Basics of Foot Protection

As any soldier will tell you “Protect Your Feet!” If you’ve ever tried hiking with an ingrown toenail or a callus, you know why they make that their motto when in the field.

The purpose of protective Footwear in the workplace is to protect the feet. Hazards include:

                Objects being dropped on them

                Stepping on sharp objects

                Temperature extremes (hot or cold)

                Exposure to harmful substances

                Slips and falls

                Electrical Current

Employees should be aware of any and all potential hazards and wear the appropriate footwear to protect against them. Employers therefore need to asses all areas, determine the potential hazards and mandate protective footwear accordingly.

What you need to know about Safety Footwear.

You need to wear footwear wherever it is mandated or wherever there is a potential hazard.

If protective footwear is mandated by the company, they need to implement a complete safety footwear program that includes selection, proper fitting, testing, training and approval of all footwear.

You need to make sure that the sole is appropriate (and approved) for the particular conditions.

Be aware of the potential hazards and protect accordingly. Make sure that you have toe protection where there is a risk of heavy weights crushing the foot or toes. Make sure you have steel shanks where there is a potential puncture hazard (nails sticking up, for example), etc…

What features should I look for in safety boots / Shoes?

Height of the boot / shoe – If there is a risk of sparks, slag or chemicals getting into the boot or shoe then you probably need to purchase highcut boots or shoes.

Reinforced Safety Toe – Protects against crushing or injury from heavy weight falling on the toes. Reinforced toes come in steel or nonsteel.

Steel Shanks – Designed to protect the sole of the foot against puncture and laceration from sharp or pointed objects that you might accidentally step on.

Sole Types – Not all soles are created equal. Depending on the conditions, different soles are available. 

Insulation – Depending on the environment you may need insulation to protect the feet against the cold (outdoor cold weather conditions, freezer work, etc…). 

Metatarsal Protection – Provides protection for the top of the foot from the toes up to the ankle. 

Which Boot do I choose for protection against chemicals?

The nature of the chemical(s) that you are being exposed to will determine the material that the boot you are getting will be made of. The most common materials are:

Natural Rubber – Extremely flexible material that stays supple in cold weather. Good slip, cut and puncture resistance (especially as compared to PVC boots). It resists bases, acids, alcohols and most watersoluble chemicals. Not recommended against oilbased chemicals and solvents

Neoprene – Extremely resistant to most animal fats, blood, oils, alcohol, alkalies and caustics. Not as puncture or cutresistant as natural rubber boots.

PVC – Good protection against animal fats, bases, alkalies, oils, many acids, alcohol and petroleum hydrocarbons. It is not recommended for use with most solvents, ketones and aldehydes.

Substance

Neoprene

PVC

Rubber

Animal Fats

Best

Good

Least Suited

Blood

Best

Good

Least Suited

Fish Oil

Best

Good

Least Suited

Caustics

Best

Good

Least Suited

Vegetal Oils

Best

Good

Least Suited

Lard, Butter

Best

Good

Least Suited

Ketones

Best

Least Suited

Good

Salts

Best

Good

Least Suited

Alkalies

Best

Good

Least Suited

Fuel Oil

Good

Best

Least Suited

Grease

Best

Good

Least Suited

Alcohol

Good

Least Suited

Best

Hydrocarbons

Best

Good

Least Suited

Antifreeze

Best

Good

Least Suited

Gasoline

Best

Good

Least Suited

Hydraulic Fuel

Best

Good

Least Suited

Kerosene

Best

Good

Least Suited

Care of safety footwear – Taking proper care of your footwear isn’t just a matter of saving money but not having to replace your boots or shoes as often; properly cared for footwear will also protect better. If your footwear is not waterproof (rubber, PVC, Neoprene, etc…) then apply a waterproofing to it as soon as you get it. Cleaning the boots / shoes regularly will make any nicks, scrapes, tears or punctures obvious. Damages boots/ Shoes should be replaced.