Foot and Leg Protection

from Personal Protective Equipment
U.S. Department of Labor
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
OSHA 3077, 1998 (Revised)

According to the BLS survey, most of the workers in selected occupations who suffered foot injuries were not wearing protective footwear. Furthermore, most of their employers did not require them to wear safety shoes. The typical foot injury was caused by objects falling fewer than 4 feet and the median weight was about 65 pounds [4, p.1]. Again, most workers were injured while performing their normal job activities at their worksites.

For protection of feet and legs from falling or rolling objects, sharp objects, molten metal, hot surfaces, and wet slippery surfaces, workers should use appropriate footguards, safety shoes, or boots and leggings. Leggings protect the lower leg and feet from molten metal or welding sparks. Safety snaps permit their rapid removal.

Aluminum alloy, fiberglass, or galvanized steel footguards can be worn over usual work shoes, although they may present the possibility of catching on something and causing workers to trip. Heat-resistant soled shoes protect against hot surfaces like those found in the roofing, paving, and hot metal industries.

Safety shoes should be sturdy and have an impact-resistant toe. In some shoes, metal insoles protect against puncture wounds. Additional protection, such as metatarsal guards, may be found in some types of footwear. Safety shoes come in a variety of styles and materials, such as leather and rubber boots and oxfords.

Safety footwear is classified according to its ability to meet minimum requirements for both compression and impact tests. These requirements and testing procedures may be found in American National Standards Institute standards. Protective footwear purchased prior to July 5, 1994, must comply with ANSI Z41.1-1967, USA Standard for Men's Saftey-Toe Foot-wear. Protective footwear purchased after July 5, 1994, must comply with ANSI Z41-1991. America National Standard for Personal Protection-Protective Footwear.