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Why is it important to assess footwear?

Occupational health and safety legislation makes it mandatory for employers and supervisors to eliminate hazards at their source, and, if this is neither possible nor practical, to require their workers to wear the appropriate protective equipment. In the case of foot injury protection, selection of the type of footwear adequate to the existing hazards is of a critical importance

From time to time, and as new footwear styles become available, it is prudent to review your workplace's safety policies to ensure that workers continue to be protected from any possible hazards.


Is there a difference between a dress code and safety requirements?

Yes, there can be. At minimum, a hazard assessment should be done to ensure that workers are protected from any present or possible hazards. In addition, workplaces may choose to require certain styles of footwear, shoes or clothing for various reasons. These choices may (or may not) be related to safety concerns.


What is an example of a footwear safety checklist?

This chart is meant to be a sample only -- when conducting your hazard assessment, please modify to meet your workplace's specific needs. In all cases, remember to ask yourself "Is this a hazard for my workplace?" and "Will the footwear provide protection from this hazard?"

Hazard Is this an issue for the workplace/ specific job or task?
(Yes / No)
Is the worker protected by the style of footwear under review?
(Yes / No)

Is there a risk of injuries from punctures, crushing, cuts, lacerations, needles, or falling objects?

   
  • Is there a need for a closed toe (vs. open toe)?
   
  • Is there need for additional protection such as an internal steel toecap? (recommended for persons lifting or carrying objects or heavy loads)
   
  • Is there need for metatarsal protection (top side of the foot)?
   
  • Is there need for a protective sole (puncture resistance for the bottom of the foot)?
   
  • Is there need for specialized footwear (e.g., protection from chainsaws)?
   

Slips, trips and falls (does the footwear contribute to this risk?)

   
  • Is the sole made of appropriate anti-slip material for the flooring or walking conditions?
   
  • Is there a risk of the soles quickly becoming dirty or worn out which reduces the slip-resistant qualities?
   
  • Is the shoe secure on the foot (e.g., are laces or a closed back required)?
   

Is there need to provide support to heels and ankles to help reduce twists and sprains?

   
  • Is a closed back required?
   
  • Is a higher ankle shoe or boot required?
   

Is there risk of contact with fluids or molten material?

   
  • Is the fluid a hazard (e.g., corrosive, solvent, hot?)
   
  • Is there need for a closed shoe or additional protection?
   

Is there risk of contact with bodily fluids or other biohazards?

   
  • Is there need for a closed shoe (vs. styles with holes or mesh)?
   
  • Can the shoe be cleaned adequately?
   

Is there risk of electrical conduction or shock?

   
  • Is there need for electric shock resistance?
   
  • Is there need for static-dissipative footwear?
   
  • Is there need for footwear that is electrically conductive?
   

Is the shoe comfortable to wear?

   
  • How long does the employee stand or walk during a workday or shift?
   
  • Is there need for protection from water or wetness?
   
  • Is there need for insulation from the cold?
   

If there is a risk for foot injury at your workplace, be sure you recommend all employees wear the appropriate footwear.

Please see the OSH Answers on Safety Footwear for more information about footwear and the CSA "Protective Footwear" standards.

It is also good practice to allow for several styles of footwear to be worn when ever possible to allow for the differences in foot sizes, comfort and individual preferences. The OSH Answers Foot Comfort and Safety at Work has more details.

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Document last updated on October 17, 2007

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