Safety Boots Matter in the Workplace
Simply put, your feet are critical to job performance, and injury sustained to the foot is a significant, yet largely preventable, issue on the jobsite.
Consider the following Bureau of Labor statistics regarding foot injuries in North America:
- Over sixty-thousand foot injuries result in lost work days per year
- Seventy-Five percent of these foot injuries occur when workers are not in compliance with foot safety regulations
- 80% of foot injuries on the jobsite are caused by objects less than thirty pounds affecting the foot in some manner.
- Compensation insurance is high – $9,600 is the average cost of a workday lost due to a foot injury.
Safety Boot Symbols
In addition to the visual symbols listed above, the foot safety industry has developed the following protection code for workers. The codes below indicates the type of internal construction present in the boot you are wearing. This code will be present within at least one boot in your pair.
The Safety Boot Protection Code Chart
The safety boot chart above can be read as follows:
Position 1: This tells you the level of toe-protection (Grade 1 or 2, or Grade 0 if there is no toe protection)
Position 2: This indicates the presence of a puncture-resistant sole (P if it is present, 0 if it is not)
Position 3: This tells you the level of metatarsal protection (M if present, 0 if it is not)
Position 4: This tells you the level of electrical protection (C if conductive, E if shock resistant, S if static dissipative, 0 if there is no protection)
Position 5: This tells you if there is chainsaw protection (X indicates if this level of protection is present, 0 if not)
From Steel Toe Boots to Safety Shoes – A Safety Evolution
Knowing these statistics, symbols and codes, let’s go a bit deeper into foot injuries in the workplace.
Steel toe boots, as they are commonly called, are a requirement at almost any jobsite, and have evolved significantly from its mid-20th century German origins. What began as a boot with a steel cover around the toes has morphed into specialized safety boots and shoes that protect against any number of workplace safety incidents, including electrical issues, heat resistance, static electricity build-up, and more.
Did you know that the most common types of foot injuries fall into the categories of puncture, compression and impact? To prevent injuries of these types, it is best to choose footwear that has either metatarsal protection, toe protection or both.
Metatarsal protection is meant to protect the small metatarsal bones of your feet. The metatarsal bones are the five long bones that extend along the top of your foot. Toe protection is meant to protect the phalanges bones that make up the toes on your feet.
Puncture Resistant Work Boots
In many cases the arch of the foot (or sole of the foot) also needs protection in order to prevent foot punctures from nails or other sharp objects found on construction sites, factories, and other similar environments. The midsole varies in these type of boots and offer a number of protection options, including: steel midsoles, non-metal midsoles, and woven fabric midsoles.
Lastly, there are needs for electrical protection. These type of safety boots use specific soles that provide protection against electrical shock – this includes insulating boots and dielectric boots, all of which are constructed with various levels of electrical properties in mind to prevent the electrical current flow from becoming grounded.
Safety boots and shoes are now offered to provide anti-bacterial protection in hygiene-sensitive environments. This type of safety footwear inhibits bacteria growth and helps prevent cross-contamination as a worker moves between different locals within their workplace.
Wow, that’s a lot more detail than simply picking up a pair of steel toe boots, isn’t it?
If you require more information on the selection of safety boots in your workplace, please visit the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety.
OSHA safety boot requirements are defined within the 1910.136 Occupational Safety & Health Standards, found via the links.