Workplace Solutions Foot protection

Foot protection

What should I look for in a safety footwear program?

Responding is Jim Falcinelli, marketing manager, Hytest Safety Footwear, Rockford, MI.

There are three areas in reviewing a safety footwear program for your business. Each component is critical to the other two – with any component missing, problems can arise. Having the most effective safety footwear program balances the correctly specified footwear with an efficient delivery system serviced by trained providers that understand personal protective equipment requirements.

The hazard assessment

Safety footwear providers should be capable of assisting you in recommending appropriate footwear for each potential hazard area. The best method is actually walking your plant and viewing the various areas.

When the provider presents the recommended safety footwear, based on your hazard assessment, it should meet your budget, perform as promised and contain all the safety components required. Most important, you should be presented with options for each hazard.

Several spreadsheets are available online to help you conduct a safety footwear inspection. To find them, simply search “safety footwear hazard assessments.”

Getting safety footwear to your employees

After the footwear has been specified, how you get footwear to your employees is the next area to review with your potential provider. In the industry today, there are three main avenues to get footwear to your employees:

  1. Onsite mobile truck delivery. This method involves a “shoe store on wheels” coming to your plant. Employees simply go out to the truck, and the operator sizes the employee and presents the correct specified footwear options for the work area. A confirmation form is completed and signed by both the operator and the employee. At month’s end, an invoice confirming the actual footwear supplied is sent to you.

    Keep this in mind: If seasonal weather is a problem in your area, the truck may not be able to get to your facility at the specified time. For this reason, this delivery method can be supplemented with the next two.

  2. Retail locations. Employees can go to stores and select from an extensive line of styles. The employee can pay on the spot or payment arrangements can be made with the service provider.

    Keep this in mind: When reviewing the service provider, make sure store personnel are fully trained and understand the directives of OSHA’s footwear PPE requirements.

  3. Website ordering. This method involves employees logging on to an employer-specified provider’s website and selecting footwear. Usually, shipping is free.

    Keep this in mind: Be sure the provider’s website has a PPE section detailing PPE requirements and standards of how to don, doff and maintain the footwear. Also, make sure the employee has a way to measure his or her feet, as return rates on website orders are high due to incorrectly fitting footwear.

Safety footwear supplier credentials

Upfront, the safety footwear supplier should have a working knowledge of OSHA PPE compliance as stated in 1910.132(f)(1) requirements.

Some suppliers have taken this a step further and employ a PPE-certified specialist to train their sales force in the PPE standards.

The best method of obtaining safety footwear for your employees is a combination of the above elements. Understanding what a specific supplier can and cannot provide is critical to the overall performance you will receive.

Editor's note: This article represents the independent views of the author and should not be construed as a National Safety Council endorsement.

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