Home HSE Articles What Is The Appropriate Footwear In The Workplace

What Is The Appropriate Footwear In The Workplace

Appropriate footwear in the workplace

Appropriate Footwear In The Workplace – Everyone has their favorite pair of comfortable shoes, but when you’re at work, you should leave them at home and wear something else instead. Even if you only spend part of your work day on your feet, it’s important to have the right footwear in the workplace. That’s why we’re looking at what constitutes proper footwear in the workplace and which ones are actually appropriate for work.

What Is Footwear In The Workplace

When we talk about footwear in the workplace, we are invariably referring to Safety Footwear. Safety footwear is designed to protect feet against a wide variety of injuries. Impact, compression, and puncture are the most common types of foot injury.

The right footwear in the workplace can affect your health and safety. This is why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other Health and Safety regulatory bodies has established a number of regulations for safety shoes to protect your feet, ankles, and toes from injury or damage.

For example, OSHA requires employers to ensure that their workers are wearing appropriate footwear.

Appropriate Footwear In The Workplace

Appropriate footwear in the workplace

Many people think that the appropriate footwear in the workplace has to be solely determined by a company’s policy. In reality, it depends on the situation. Footwear requirements in the workplace are determined by health and safety regulations which are set by each country and also the risk prevalent in the workplace. It is important for employees to have a clear understanding of their company’s policy and also for them to be aware of any health and safety regulations that apply to their country and the kind of risk they are facing in their workplace.

According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) –

1910.136(b)(1)
Protective footwear must comply with any of the following consensus standards:

1910.136(b)(1)(i)
ASTM F-2412-2005, “Standard Test Methods for Foot Protection,” and ASTM F-2413-2005, “Standard Specification for Performance Requirements for Protective Footwear,” which are incorporated by reference in § 1910.6;

1910.136(b)(1)(ii)
ANSI Z41-1999, “American National Standard for Personal Protection — Protective Footwear,” which is incorporated by reference in § 1910.6; or

1910.136(b)(1)(iii)
ANSI Z41-1991, “American National Standard for Personal Protection — Protective Footwear,” which is incorporated by reference in § 1910.6.

1910.136(b)(2)
Protective footwear that the employer demonstrates is at least as effective as protective footwear that is constructed in accordance with one of the above consensus standards will be deemed to be in compliance with the requirements of this section.

In conclusion, we can only talk about “Appropriate Footwear In The Workplace” when the footwear meets these main three (3) criteria – Meets the footwear protection requirements, Meets the company’s policy regarding the use of footwear, and offers the necessary protection of which it is needed for.

If I may add another criteria – If it does not pose any form of discomfort to the employee or pose additional risk.

READ: 10 Tips For Maintaining Health And Safety In A Construction Site

Why Is It Important To Wear Proper Footwear In The Workplace?

You might be asking yourself, Why is it so important to wear proper footwear in the workplace? The answer is simple: it’s a health and safety issue. Proper footwear can reduce the risk of injury from falls and cuts by up to 70% and can also help prevent foot problems such as corns, calluses, bunions, and hammertoes.

Footwear Policy In The Workplace

There is no universal workplace footwear policy, so you will have to look at your workplace’s specific guidelines for what type of shoes are considered appropriate. For example, some workplaces may prefer that employees wear dress shoes with closed toes and laces or athletic shoes with non-marking soles. If your workplace does not have a specific policy on footwear, you may want to bring it up to your employer – it might be time for an update!

It’s not always possible to wear shoes with closed toes and laces. If you have a medical condition that requires you to wear open-toed or lace-less shoes, you should let your employer know as soon as possible – so that they can create a special footwear policy for your situation. If you are required to take frequent safety training courses and assessments due to OSHA regulations in your workplace, then it may be difficult for you to wear closed-toe shoes.

Another example is if you work in a restaurant kitchen and need to wear slip-resistant shoes to prevent accidents. Your employer should be able to create a footwear policy that makes it possible for you to do your job while still following footwear regulations. If your workplace does not have an appropriate footwear policy, talk with your manager about creating one – especially if there has been an accident in your workplace due to improper footwear.

Footwear Requirements In The Workplace

Workplace footwear requirements refers to what type of footwear is allowed in the workplace. Most workplaces allow non-slip, closed-toed shoes or dress shoes but not sandals, flip-flops, or clogs.

However some companies only allow non-slip, closed-toed shoes or dress shoes with a heel. The level of flexibility in your company’s foot requirement usually depends on the industry and the job requirements.

Many businesses require an all black or all brown dress shoe. White, cream, and any other colored shoes typically aren’t allowed. If you have specific requirements for your workplace footwear policy or want to provide additional information about why your company requires certain foot wear then make sure to include a detailed explanation in your company’s employee handbook.

The feet are more sensitive to temperature than most other parts of your body. The choice of footwear in your workplace can have a direct effect on employee health and productivity. Properly chosen shoes provide shock absorption, cushioning, and help promote better posture.

READ: 10 Examples Of Health And Safety Practices In The Workplace

In conclusion, no matter the requirements stated in the organizations footwears policy, the optimum objective is that the footwear should protect the worker from harm and injury.

Health And Safety Footwear Regulations

Here is OSHA footwear regulation:

1910.136(a)
General requirements. The employer shall ensure that each affected employee uses protective footwear when working in areas where there is a danger of foot injuries due to falling or rolling objects, or objects piercing the sole, or when the use of protective footwear will protect the affected employee from an electrical hazard, such as a static-discharge or electric-shock hazard, that remains after the employer takes other necessary protective measures.

1910.136(b)
Criteria for protective footwear.

1910.136(b)(1)
Protective footwear must comply with any of the following consensus standards:

1910.136(b)(1)(i)
ASTM F-2412-2005, “Standard Test Methods for Foot Protection,” and ASTM F-2413-2005, “Standard Specification for Performance Requirements for Protective Footwear,” which are incorporated by reference in § 1910.6;

1910.136(b)(1)(ii)
ANSI Z41-1999, “American National Standard for Personal Protection — Protective Footwear,” which is incorporated by reference in § 1910.6; or

1910.136(b)(1)(iii)
ANSI Z41-1991, “American National Standard for Personal Protection — Protective Footwear,” which is incorporated by reference in § 1910.6.

1910.136(b)(2)
Protective footwear that the employer demonstrates is at least as effective as protective footwear that is constructed in accordance with one of the above consensus standards will be deemed to be in compliance with the requirements of this section.

See more explanation for this regulation here

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