If you work in the offices of Vogue, turning up in a pair of safe shoes might be frowned upon. Yet, if you work in construction, your priority has to be protection over fashion.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) makes choosing protective footwear straightforward. You need only make sure the shoes bear the right label, showing they comply with one of the three safety standards that OSHA recognizes:
- ASTM F-2412-2005 plus ASTM F-2413-2005
- ANSI Z41-1999
- ANSI Z41-1991
It is not just construction workers these standards apply to. Anyone whose job might endanger their feet through falling objects, electrical or chemical hazards or objects piercing the sole should use them.
What are the key characteristics of protective footwear?
While two pairs of shoes may look the same to the untrained eye, designers spend a lot of time ensuring their shoes are better than their competitors.
- The toe: Open toes are not a sign it is summer, they are a sign you need to replace your boots. Toe caps come in a choice of materials, from steel for the traditionalists to carbon for those with more modern tastes.
- The sole: You want a material that won’t melt at the first sign of chemicals and a grip that helps you stay upright on the slipperiest of ramps.
- The insole: A good insole can not only improve posture, but it can help you stay comfortable all day, avoiding the need to carry a pair of sneakers in your bag to change into when you finish work.
Your employer needs to take care of your feet. That doesn’t mean they need to pay for foot massages, but they do need to provide you with appropriate protective footwear. If they don’t, it increases the chance a foot injury leaves you unable to work and in need of workers’ compensation benefits.