Controls and Safeguards
Proper footwear is an important part of your personal protective equipment (PPE) on the job. But just like any other PPE, footwear is used as a last resort. Other controls and safeguards must be in place:
Do proper housekeeping to eliminate tripping, slipping, and puncture hazards.
Use machinery for lifting.
Ensure good ergonomic design in your work area.
Follow safe work practices and procedures.
A combination of control methods will give the best results.
Walking. It's something many of us take for granted. Protective footwear can save your ability to walk. Without this footwear you could suffer a number of injuries - crushing, bruising, fractures, sprains, strains, cuts, burns, and scalds.
There are three basic types of wounds to the foot:
Puncture wounds (you step on a nail)
Impact wounds (a heavy object lands on your foot)
Movement or pressure wounds (sprains to your ankle)
Fire, electricity, heat, and corrosive liquids are also dangers.
More than Toes
When choosing footwear, people often think about things dropping on the toe or punctures through the sole. But a large number of foot injuries are ankle and metatarsal (front part of the foot) injuries. Sprains and breaks take you off the job too. Here's what injuries occur in the construction trade:
Toe - 21%
Sole - 13%
Metatarsal - 28%
Ankle - 30%
Heel - 8%
What Are the Hazards?
An employer must ensure that a worker uses footwear that is appropriate to the hazards associated with the work being performed and the worksite. The selection of footwear must comply with CSA standards. Refer to current Occupational Health and Safety Legislation.
Construction Footwear Tips
Appropriate footwear must be worn on all construction sites. Puncture resistance soles will protect you from nails and other sharp objects that are often found on construction sites.
Electric shock resistant soles are always a good idea. But remember, the protection is only on the sole and foot, and it may wear out over time.
You may also see anti-static footwear. This footwear discharges static electricity from the body and clothing through the shoes into a properly grounded floor (i.e. paint spray booths). This type of footwear is actually dangerous if you are working near open electrical circuits or highly charged electrical equipment. That kind of work environment requires electric shock resistant soles.
For most construction projects, leather, high top boots are recommended. Choose a sole that will provide slip resistance for the type of areas you work in.
Remember - choose footwear according to the hazard.
When buying footwear, make sure you accurately explain what you do and what the footwear needs to do. Go to a store that specializes in protective footwear and gain the benefits of consulting with an industrial footwear professional.
Make sure you walk in new footwear to make certain it's comfortable. There should be plenty of toe room. Footwear should be snug around your heels and ankles when laced to give you support and protection.
Remember - you might be wearing heavy socks. When trying on a boot, wear the same socks or liners that you would wear on the job.
Wearing and Working
Remember to follow these footwear guidelines:
Put a protective water resistance coating on your footwear before you use it.
Always lace up your boots fully.
Never jump off equipment.
Always use the three point contact for climbing.
Watch out for slipping and tripping hazards.
Keep your worksite clean.
Follow these guidelines to help your footwear do their job longer:
Inspect footwear regularly for damage.
Clean off any road salt or other substances.
Remove any metal pieces that may be stuck in the soles.
Repair or replace worn or defective footwear. If the tread pattern is eroded by wear, it's time to get new protective footwear.
Be committed to reducing foot injuries. Make sure that you work safely and keep your work area safe from hazards. Make sure you buy and wear the right kind of protective footwear for your job.
Protective footwear and proper procedures to protect feet are issues for both employers and employees. Use of safety footwear should be part of your company policy.
For more information, refer to current applicable Occupational Health and Safety Legislation.