Safety footwear is designed to help protect the feet of people who work in industries such as construction, agriculture, and engineering. Whether you’re providing footwear for employees to comply with the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 Act, or choosing your own, here’s a few things to bear in mind.
1. Check your industry standards and regulations
Your first consideration is that your shoes are fit for purpose. The International Standard ISO 20345:2011 specifies basic and optional requirements for general purpose safety footwear. It includes for example, risks from crushing or falling or rolling objects, slip resistance, and thermal risks. Safety footwear of all styles should be in accordance with EN ISO 20345.
2. Assess the risks
Check what hazards are present in your workplace. There should be a risk assessment which you can refer to, highlighting potential wet conditions, slipping, cuts and punctures, falling objects, and substance splashes. Waterproof boots may be best for outdoor work, or breathable boots for warm indoor conditions.
3. Know the features
TheEN ISO 20345 standard requires key safety features, such as toe protection which can withstand a 200-joule impact. Toe caps can be steel, or a lightweight composite material. They must also have midsole penetration protection, which guards against piercing by a sharp object. Also check for water and temperature resistance levels.
4. Make sure they’re comfy!
Footwear that is uncomfortable is a hazard in itself, so make sure they fit properly. Fit and comfort can be improved by adding insoles or high-quality thermal work socks.
5. Look after them properly
To keep safety boots and shoes in good working order, they should be cleaned often to prevent dirt building up, and stored in a clean dry place. They should also be inspected regularly for wear and tear. Any damage should be repaired to ensure they continue to comply with safety regulations.
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