Safety Tips Personal protective equipment

Selecting and trying on protective footwear

Photo: naito8/iStockphoto

Well-fitting, appropriate footwear is critical to keeping workers comfortable while protecting them against on-the-job injuries. The Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety offers information to help make the right selection.

According to CCOHS, good footwear should have the following qualities:

  • The inner side must be straight from the heel to the end of the big toe.
  • The shoe must grip the heel firmly.
  • The forepart should allow freedom of movement for the toes.
  • The shoe should have fastening across the instep to prevent the foot from slipping while walking.
  • The shoe should have a low, wide heel.

When considering protective footwear:

  • Consider shock-absorbing insoles for jobs that require frequent walking or standing on hard surfaces.
  • Shoe and boot uppers are offered in a variety of materials. When you’re selecting an upper, take into account workplace hazards and individual characteristics of the foot.
  • A steel midsole should protect against penetration by sharp objects while being flexible enough to allow the foot to bend.
  • Look for a sole made from the proper material and is the correct thickness for the hazards and flooring present in the workplace.

CCOHS offers advice for trying on footwear:

  • Don’t expect a shoe or boot that is too tight to stretch over time.
  • Have both of your feet measured – many people have one foot that is larger than the other. You should buy protective shoes that fit your larger foot.
  • Try on footwear in the late afternoon, when feet are likely to be swollen to their largest size.
  • Make sure steel toe caps cover the length of the toes from the tips to beyond the natural bend of the foot. A soft pad covering the edge of the toe cap can improve comfort, but if the toe cap cuts into the foot, either the size or style is incorrect.

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