Outfitting employees with appropriate footwear reduce injuries. Protecting employees’ feet with good industrial footwear cuts lost work hours, improves productivity, and heightens morale. To abide by federal regulations adopted and enforced by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), protective footwear is required for workers in industrial settings. OSHA has an abundance of rules and regulations regarding workplace safety, including section 29 CFR 1910.136 on occupational foot protection. Footwear is included in the Personal Protective Equipment section of the Occupational Safety and Health Standards. The section on foot protection points to issues relevant to employers in the construction, industrial, government and service fields.
Why is the OSHA Safety Footwear Regulation Important?
Failure to comply with OSHA regulations invites warnings, sanctions, and fines. While certain citations can be at a minimum of a few thousand dollars, it is important to note OSHA raised its maximum penalties at the start of 2018 to $12,600 for “serious” and “other-than-serious” violations and to $12,934 each day for “failure-to-abate” violations. In addition, “willful” and “repeat” violations can now carry a maximum of $129,336. Also, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the workforce suffered approximately 100,000 occupational foot injuries in 2016 that averaged 10 days away from work. If you add up the cost of OSHA fines plus the loss in productivity caused by an injury, not to mention potential workers’ compensation as well as the possibility of an additional hire, lack of foot protection can become very costly to a company.
What are the Standards?
The federal government’s standard, 29 CFR 1910.136(a), is clear: “The employer shall ensure that each affected employee uses protective footwear when working in areas where there is a danger of foot injuries due to falling or rolling objects, or objects piercing the sole, or when the use of protective footwear will protect the affected employee from an electrical hazard, such as a static-discharge or electric-shock hazard, that remains after the employer takes other necessary protective measures.
OSHA suggests protective footwear be worn in situations involving the following:
- corrosive or poisonous materials
- electrical hazards
- static electricity that could cause an explosion
- heavy objects that could roll onto feet
- sharp objects that could puncture the foot
- molten metal that could splash onto feet
- hot or slippery surfaces
OSHA recommends conducting an assessment—either by a company’s safety personnel or by a consultant—to determine the need for PPE equipment and the type of footwear employees should wear.
Although OSHA dictates the use of PPE, ASTM International is the organization that sets the performance requirements for protective footwear in the United States. ASTM International is a leader in developing and publishing technical standards for a wide range of products and is recognized globally as a dominant and respected standards organization. It is a requisite for safety footwear in the United States to comply with ASTM. Every five years, committees of experts review the standards to ensure they are comprehensive and up to date, revising, if necessary, to meet the evolving needs of industries and consumers. The most current safety footwear standard was just released in 2017.
What Do the Standards Mean?
Protective footwear must comply with the ASTM International standard F2413 (current version: F2413-17). This is the Standard Specification for Performance Requirements for Protective (Safety) Toe Cap Footwear. ASTM International standard F2412 (current version: F2412-18) is the Standard Test Methods for Foot Protection. Both standards are under the jurisdiction of ASTM Committee F13 on Pedestrian/Walkway Safety and Footwear.
ASTM International standards set forth minimum requirements for the performance of footwear to provide protection against a variety of workplace hazards. One such hazard is “impact,” indicative of falling or dropping objects onto the foot. A weight of 50 pounds is dropped from an approximate height of 18 inches, delivering 75 ft-lbs of force onto the toe of the shoe. Test results meeting the performance criteria allow the shoe to be labeled as I/75.
Resistance to “compression” provides protection from rolling objects. A shoe that withstands 2,500 pounds of force onto the toe can be labeled as C/75.
ASTM F2413 requires compression- and impact-resistant shoes to have built-in toe caps (i.e., the safety toe caps are not removable). These shoes must be labeled as I/75/C/75. Beyond compression and impact resistance, shoes required for different types of jobs will reflect their own specific list of standards.
ABOUT MCCARTHY TIRE SERVICE
Founded in 1926, McCarthy Tire Service is a family-owned and operated tire dealer headquartered in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. The company has more than 70 service locations and 11 Bandag retread tire manufacturing plants along the east coast of the United States. McCarthy Tire is the 5th largest independent commercial tire dealer and one of the top 50 retail tire dealers in the country. The company offers tire sales and service; automotive mechanical services and repairs; fleet services; truck mechanical services; 24-hour commercial roadside assistance; and retread tire manufacturing. For more information, visit www.McCarthyTire.com.
SAFETY CONTACT: Russ Devens