Footwear is Essential PPE for Workers
Footwear is a significant part of protection for workers that requires several components to make it as effective as possible.
- By Xavier Kawula
- Feb 01, 2021
Footwear is the foundation of any safety and protection program. While employers and workers want to avoid injuries while on the job, standing for long periods of time can lead to tired, accident-prone feet. There are key features to consider when looking for the right footwear. Ahead, we will outline select considerations for footwear that will keep you protected while on the jobsite.
Slip resistance, or traction, is a feature that is very important to consider. Selecting appropriate, slip-resistant footwear can be challenging, as there is a lot of industry frustration and confusion around slip ratings. It is critical to understand which ratings are most relevant to specific tasks and job categories. Many products will say they are slip resistant or call out their slip resistance as fair, good or use another subjective term.
If you are looking for footwear to be compliant to a Slip Hazard Assessment Plan, it is important to request and review the manufacturer’s actual slip scores in the standardized tests. The current standard for slip-resistant testing is the SATRA, which is a more holistic shoe test. Older tests that were designed to test the floor, not the shoes, are considered obsolete.
We suggest looking for a SATRA rating of SRA for most wearing occasions and an SRC slip rated outsole when looking for best-in-class slip performance. If an outsole has a passing score on the Slip Resistance A test—soapy water on quarry tile—it can be labeled SRA. If an outsole has a passing score on the Slip Resistance B test—glycerol on stainless steel—it can be labeled SRB. If it passes both tests, it can be labeled SRC.
Toe Type: Steel Toe or Composite
Toe types make a big difference and should be chosen carefully based on the task at hand (or foot.) Steel is the heaviest safety toe material, but often offers a sleeker profile as it’s more compact. Steel toe boots are the traditional choice, but there are other, non-metallic options such as composite toe boots. Composite has no magnetic signature and transfers cold slower than metals, so it will lend more comfort to the wearer in colder environments. As with most things, the toe type presents additional options for wear depending upon the environment in which you work. The test for toe protection is pass/fail, so one cannot claim to be ultimately superior to another. While the tests for CSA and ASTM differ slightly, generally any toe that passes one will pass the other. The following is a list of safety toe options and their benefits:
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2021 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.